New Vancouver Biennale Installations Inspire Debate About Public Art

Wednesday August 19th, 2009

The_STOP_CharlestonIt’s been an auspicious beginning for the Vancouver Biennale.

As the August temperatures remain high and the summer sun drenches the city with its warmth a debate is beginning to bubble up around art in public spaces.

It began last week with an article on the featuring interviews and opinions with Vancouver Biennale President, Barrie Mowatt, and Vancouver Park Board commissioner, Aaron Jasper.

Finding locations for some of the sculptures soon to be installed as part of the Biennale has proved difficult for many reasons.  One issue is the huge influence that the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics holds over the city’s open spaces and park land. This has meant that some great art will be installed in public places within our neighboring City of Richmond.  Something that had not happened before.

The article has generated some great debate among readers as you can see in the comments section at the very end.  Much of the debate focused on the controversial work, Device to Root Out Evil by American artist Dennis Oppenheim.  The piece is also referred to as the Upside Down Church.  The piece had caused so much concern among members of the public that it was eventually moved to Calgary.

There are passionate opinions on both side of the issue.

(Photo credit: © 2009 Barry Duncan)

The debate has gathered some steam this week on Frances Bula’s State of Vancouver blog where readers engage in furious debate over Michael Zheng’s installation, The STOP, located simultaneously in Vanier Park and Charleston Park along False Creek.

If you’re passionate about art please take a look at these two links that I have posted and lend your voice to the debate.

This is what art – specifically art in public places – can do: inspire people to share and debate their ideas, to open up a passionate public discourse on art in our city.

Please join the conversation.


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