Bulgarian environmental artist Christo has draped an inexplicable array of landscapes and objects in a distinctive orange hue since the 1960s – but few of his installations have been as conceptually perplexing as his latest planned installation. The Mastaba is to be a permanent flat-topped pyramid of oil barrels located in the desert about 100 miles from Abu Dhabi. While oil-rich nations vie for the dubious accolade of having the “world’s tallest building,” Christo’s sculpture—comprised of 410,000 oil barrels—is set to make Abu Dhabi home to the world’s largest permanent sculpture.
Originally designed in 1979, The Mastaba is a 150-meter-high flat-topped pyramid—far taller than any you might find in Egypt. Christo describes the work as one of “joy and beauty.” The Guardian explains that “[s]tacked barrels painted in colours inspired by the yellow and red sands will recreate the visual effect of an Islamic mosaic,” while Christo adds that “When the sun rises, the vertical wall will become almost full of gold.” A German auto paint company that produces colors for the likes of BMW will be commissioned to produce the color of the oil barrels, which is a slight departure from Christo’s traditional orange hue.
Located in the United Arab Emirates, a nation that is one of the world’s largest producers of oil, the colossal oil barrel structure might seem eccentric at best. Christo insists, however, that there is no political commentary intended in his choice of material. Rather, he explained to the Guardian, he is recalling his own previous use of oil barrels in his installation works. It is estimated that The Mastaba will take around 30 months to complete at a cost of $340 million.
Images © Christo