Mayor of Richmond, Malcolm Brodie, Responds to Public Art Debate
Monday January 11th, 2010
On January 6th, Malcolm Brodie wrote the following letter to the editors of the Richmond Review newspaper regarding public response to a recent sculpture installation. Full text is faithfully reprinted below.
There has been a great deal of public discussion about the recent installation of “Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin’s Head,” a public art piece located at the intersection of Elmbridge and Alderbridge Way.
This is part of the Vancouver International Sculpture Biennale (VISB) which will ultimately showcase nine sculptures, on an interim basis, throughout our community with more in Vancouver until early 2011. The VISB is a non-profit organization whose goal is to bi-annually mount an outdoor public art exhibition, featuring major sculptures, new media, and performance works by some of the world’s most celebrated and emerging artists.
Richmond City Council has supported public art over many years. Involvement in the VISB is part of the City’s commitment. Other Biennale works currently installed include Yvonne Domenge’s “Olas de Viento (Wind Waves)” at Garry Point Park and Dennis Oppenheim’s “Arriving Home” at YVR International Arrivals. Watch for “Water #10” soon to be situated near the Aberdeen Station on the Middle Arm Waterfront Greenway, amongst others.
There are always a variety of opinions about any work of art, including this sculpture. In fact, public art is meant to provoke discussion—making us stop, think and reflect on the experience. This particular sculpture presents a provocative and unconventional depiction of Mao and Lenin. This piece may remind us that because we have freedom of expression in Canada, we need not fear censorship.
I hope that each piece of public art will cause residents and visitors alike to stop and reflect. Freedom for artistic expression and the right to express an opinion are fundamental rights all Canadians enjoy.
Malcolm D. Brodie