His impressive physique and sense of humor make Vladimir Yavachev a charismatic figure.
Christo's nephew, who has been overseeing the Arc de Triomphe packaging project since July 15, more than a year after the death of his uncle, who died in May 2020, is a bon vivant who still has the word for laugh.
But he also knows how to be serious.
After this monumental work, Vladimir Yavachev hopes to continue to keep the memory of his uncle alive by creating the “Abu Dhabi Mastaba”, the last pharaonic ambition of the late Bulgarian artist.
When asked if he speaks a few words of our language, he retorts: “Me, zero French.
So, let's go for an interview in English.
What feeling predominates when you resume this work after the death of your uncle?
It is special ! You know, I started working with Christo as a laborer in 1990. I was 17 years old. I loved it straight away and didn't want to do anything else. After the death of Jeanne-Claude
(Editor's note: the artist's wife and alter ego)
in 2009, I got a little more involved in the projects.
Today, for the first time, I find myself all alone, and not on the slightest.
There are times when I would need to have Christo with me.
I'm not even talking about his artistic vision and all of those work-related things that we've discussed so many times.
It's just that on a personal level, it's very hard not to share that with him.
Christo said, “It's only big because it's useless.
This is my favorite quote from him.
He was an artist of excess and I think we are paying him a very nice tribute.
Bruno Cordeau (left), administrator of the Arc de Triomphe, and Vladimir Yavachev, Christo's nephew, carry out the final project of the visual artist.
What is your role on the site?
I am the boss !
Like any good boss, I do nothing and I only delegate tasks.
Well, sometimes I clean the floor when a few screws are lying around.
(He turns to Bruno Cordeau, the administrator of the Arc de Triomphe and laughs)
. No ! More seriously, there are at least 1200 people involved in this project. My mission is to make sure that everything is going well, that, when we work at night, in the morning there is no problem before opening to visitors. It is more difficult for us to work on a site that welcomes the public, but it was a sine qua non condition to allow the Center des monuments nationaux to continue to generate revenue, because we could not compensate them for the losses of 'silver. I'm not saying this because Bruno is next to me, but honestly, we have never had so much support from a public office or an entity like the one provided by the CMN
(Center des monuments national)
. It is incredible this energy and these resources!
Do you have a special story to tell us about this extraordinary site?
I especially want to thank the kestrels!
These birds saved us.
The first postponement was effective after discovering that this protected species lived in the sculpted paintings of the Arc de Triomphe.
If they had not decided to come and nest and breed under a general's boot, the project would have been carried out and it would have been finalized during the first containment.
No one would have ever seen the Arc de Triomphe packed up.
It was ultimately not a problem, but our greatest luck.