Of the three proposals the wrapping of the Jet d’Eau was technically the most ambitious and perhaps even more so than Christo’s earlier project of wrapping air, 5,600 Cubicmeter Package which he created for documenta IX in Kassel in 1968. Water, air, earth and fire were elements which preoccupied artists in the 60s: Klaus Rinke sculpted water; Yves Klein painted with fire; Walter de Maria moved tonnes of earth.
The famous symbol of Geneva, the Jet d’Eau, had a technical function. It was designed in 1886 as a safety valve for the hydraulic plant at Coulouvrenière and was a highly complex piece of engineering. Christo’s idea to wrap it was equally complex. He planned to put a steel cap on the mouth of the water jet which would have been restrained by cables supporting a synthetic material packaging, probably polyamide. The water pressure would then have been gradually increased until the packaging was held in place. Christo and Jeanne-Claude wanted the packaging to be transparent so that the water within could be seen. The idea of packaging a natural element, giving physical form to a crucial life force would have provided a spectacular sight in the harbour of Geneva.