Legal wrangling over Christo’s river project rages

The artist Christo and a group of federal land managers have asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit that seeks to halt the artist’s contentious environmental piece in Colorado, Over the River. The $50m project, which has been in the works for around three years, involves draping six miles of rippling fabric over the Arkansas River.

Last month, an activist group against the project that calls itself Roar (“Rags Over the Arkansas River”) filed an amended version of an earlier lawsuit claiming that land managers had underestimated the project’s environmental risks. Challenging the government’s decision to grant Christo a land-use permit, Roar says the project “will have significant short- and long-term impacts on wildlife within the Arkansas Canyonlands”, including the displacement of bighorn sheep from their primary habitat. Since plans include a crew of over 3,000 people drilling more than 9,000 holes into the riverbank, “the Art Project is akin to a massive resource extraction project, and under federal law should be treated as one”, the group writes.

In new filings last week, Christo and the land managers denied most of Roar’s allegations, saying that all disturbances will be temporary.

Although the legal back-and-forth is far from over, Christo has said such debates are as integral to his work as the final product. “The identity of our project is built in the permitting process,” the artist told the New York Times in 2010.

The Law Offices of Aaron Resnick is one of the few South Florida firms with an Art Law division.