We have created indoor installations inside museums, like the Wrapped Floor at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago in 1968, and not monumental at all by any standards.
That could stay, not forever, because we believe that nothing exists that is forever, not even the dinosaurs, but if well maintained, it could remain for four to five thousand years. And that is definitely not forever.
The other exception where we did not at all restore the place to its original condition is the Surrounded Islands. Before we installed our fabric, we had our workers remove 42 tons of garbage off the beaches of those islands. We never brought the garbage back.
And for every project, because it takes years, you can see the early drawings and collages as just a simple, vague idea, and through the years and through the negotiations of getting the permit, you see that every detail is now clarified.
Therefore, when we arrive in a place and talk to new people about a new image, it is very hard for them to visualize it. That's where the drawings are very important, because at least we can show a projection of what we believe it will look like.
People think our work is monumental because it's art, but human beings do much bigger things: they build giant airports, highways for thousands of miles, much, much bigger than what we create.
It's very important to understand that we never do the same thing twice; each of our projects is unique. We'll never do another 'Gates.' Each project is a unique image. We do not know in advance how the work will look. I do preparatory drawings, but they are only projections of our vision.
We tell them that we believe it will be beautiful because that is our specialty, we only create joy and beauty. We have never done a sad work. Through the drawings, we hope a majority will be able to visualize it.
Now, to describe the process of the Wrapped Reichstag, which went from 1971 to '95, there is an entire book about that, because each one of our projects has its own book. The book is not an art book, meaning it's not written by an art historian.
Germany is an economic giant but a political midget, and with the end of the Cold War she has started to muscle her presence throughout Europe and the world.
The decision to use only the name Christo was made deliberately when we were young because it is difficult for one artist to get established and we wanted to put all the chances on our side.
Therefore we have to go over the fact that all human beings are afraid by what is new. It is our work to convince them that they will enjoy it, and even if they don't, to allow us just for 14 days to create that work of art.
In 1964, Jeanne-Claude and I became illegal aliens. That's when we moved here from Paris. And for three years, we were illegal aliens living in an illegal building. At that time, some artists started to move to SoHo, and they put A.I.R. - artists-in-residence - up on their windows.
But now, today, we don't know if Over the River is truly the next project to be realized, because something very nice happened to our life in November in New York.
The other work we started in 1992, it is called Over the River, Project for the Arkansas River in the state of Colorado, we haven't got the permit yet. And, we are working at both of those, trying to get the permit. Therefore, we do not know which one will be realized next.
In 1964, when we first arrived in New York City, I remember vividly seeing the skyline of Manhattan, and our first proposal of 1964 was to wrap two lower Manhattan buildings. We never got permission.
We are probably the only artists in the world who have a 2,000-page book on a work of art that doesn't exist. But in this way, these projects reveal their identity through this whole process. When I'm starting, I only have the slightest idea of how the work of art will exist.
We never work on only one project because we never know if we will get permission for a project. So, for 'Over the River,' we started in 1992. I was just finishing 'The Umbrellas' in Japan and California, and I was also working on getting permission to wrap the Reichstag.
Some of the projects we've proposed over the years have been refused. But we never do other people's ideas; our ideas come out of our two hearts and our two heads.