Back in June 2016, people could walk over floating piers on Lake Iseo (Italy), all covered with yellow material, one of the ‘wrapping’ projects by Christo. Other projects have included the wrapping of Pont-Neuf bridge in Paris, the Reichstag in Berlin and The Gates in New York City’s Central Park.
Christo, an artist who ‘does not have any art work that survives’, does this sort of thing as a pure, transitory ‘aesthetic impact’. Apparently only sketches and original drawings survive.
And many critics say ‘what is the point?’; why waste that money and effort? (by the way no member of the public pays a penny for the visit or the ‘use’, there are no postcards, t-shirts or memorabilia). Surely, effort could be directed to more noble goals.
But, what is the point of a painting? What is the point of Mahler’s Fifth? What is the point of Picasso’s blue and not blue period? What is the point of meditating?
There isn’t one. They are what they are, an expression of possibilities that do not even pretend to convince you of anything. Courageous for many, pointless for others, the eighteen days of ‘walking on water’ are there for you, free, for your imagination and your own emotions.
There is a much broader issue here, regardless of our artistic taste. It is one of ‘making a point’ or not.
If absolutely everything, small or big, artistic or not, intellectual, behavioural, emotional must have a point (a clear goal, a clear purpose, a ranking in an index of efficacy and effectiveness) you are a prisoner. In the other extreme, if nothing of what you do has a point, you may be very sick.
I believe that injecting a healthy percentage of pointless elements of life is a condition for good mental health. Trust me, I used to be a psychiatrist.
Because we have commoditized everything and tagged a tangible outcome to all, we feel very uncomfortable with pointless things.
In managerial life, it is even worse because we have declared waste to the pointless. But there is no waste necessarily, just oxygen and possibilities.
Sometimes, if the answer to ‘what is the point?’ is there isn’t any, you may just be in good mental health. Bring your smile, unapologetically. You don’t need to make a point.
Find your little uncompromising, pointless, pier floating, Ponte-Neuf wrapping in your life. You’ll live longer.