Christo, known for his massive installation projects such as the “Surrounded Islands”, “Wrapped Kunsthalle”, and “Umbrellas”, is now closer than ever to realizing what will almost certainly be the largest and most permanent project of his career. “The Mastaba”, a flat-topped pyramid made of 400,000 multi-coloured oil barrels, will be installed in the desert 100 miles south of Abu Dhabi. At an estimated cost of nearly $340,000,000, The Mastaba will be taller than taller than the Great Pyramid in Egypt and become the world’s largest permanent man-made structure.
There is an argument to be made that this project is going to be one of the most important and awesome cultural expressions of the 21st century, perhaps a defining moment of the entire modern era. But the flip side of that same argument would suggest that, at a time when billions of people are starving and the oil industry inspires wars and environmental degradation on a colossal scale, this is an quixotically ridiculous and utterly wasteful idea bordering on international criminality and insanity.