An artist of the air re-creates his six-year plot to pull off an act of incomparable beauty and imagination
One late-summer day, a feat of unimaginable audacity was perpetrated on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The year was 1974. A hundred thousand people gathered on the ground to watch in awe as twenty-four-year-old high wire artist Philippe Petit made eight crossings between the all-but-completed towers, a quarter mile above the earth, over the course of nearly an hour.
Petit's achievement made headlines around the world. Yet few who saw or heard about it realized that it was the fulfillment of a dream he had nurtured for six years, rekindling it each time it was in danger of expiring. His accomplices were a motley crew of foreigners and Americans, who under Petit's direction had conpired, connived, labored, argued, rehearsed, and improvised to make possible an act of unsurpassed aerial artistry.
In this visually and verbally stunning book, Petit tells for the first time the dramatic story of this history-making walk, from conception and clandestine planning to the performance and its aftermath. The account draws on Petit's journals, which capture everything from his budgets to his strategies for rigging a high wire in the dead of night between two of the most secure towers in the world. It is animated by photographs taken by two of Petit's collaborators, and by his own wonderfully evocative sketches and unquenchable humor.
|Publisher:||Farrar, Straus and Giroux|
|File size:||4 MB|
About the Author
Philippe Petit is a world-renowned high wire artist who has performed all over the world. He lives in the Catskills and New York City, where he is artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Read an Excerpt
To Reach The Clouds
BEFORERebel poet?By four years old, disdain for my fellow man starts to show: I climb onto everything to distance myself. At age six, I announce, "When I grow up, I want to be a theatrical director!" Then I proceed to learn magic on my own.During the next ten years, I study drawing, painting, sculpting, fencing, printing, carpentry, theater, and horseback riding, all with prestigious masters; I embrace focus, tenacity, respect for the tool, and passion.The reaction of my parents to my unruly individuality is to legally emancipate me on my seventeenth birthday. Autodidact, I become a juggler and a tightrope walker.By the time I turn eighteen, I've been expelled from five schools for practicing the art of the pickpocket on my teachers and the art of card manipulation under my desk. I refuse to take the basic exam to prove I can read, write, and count, and thereby jeopardize my chances of landing a job picking up garbage or operating a cash register. Instead, I leave home and become a wandering troubadour, a street-juggler without a permit who is arrested constantly ... all over the world.No one wishes to hire me, practitioner of an absurd arrogance; for a while I make sure it stays that way. It becomes essential to write, play chess, learn Russian and bullfighting, discover architecture and engineering, invent hiding places, erect tree houses, train at lock-picking--to indulge my gourmandise for knowledge while honing my perfectionism.
This course of events conduces me to imagine rigging a wire insecret somewhere and performing on such an imposed stage, out of reach, in total disregard of the powers that be.
The adventure of the World Trade Center begins with the first appearance of such thoughts, in a dentist's waiting room in Paris. I am barely eighteen years old.© Philippe Petit, 2002