café for contemporary art

Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal – Public Meeting May 16, 3pm

Posted in Uncategorized by tyler057 on May 12, 2009
Scott August & Steven Hubert, Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal, 2009

Scott August & Steven Hubert, Pinnacle Square Public Art Proposal, 2009

This Saturday (May 16) at 3pm in conjunction with our current exhibition Scott August and Steve Hubert will host a public meeting to discuss their proposal for a new public art installation in Pinnacle Square, a quasi-public space adjacent to the cafe. They propose that an oversized zero and a 25ft cowboy in cut-offs and oven mitts be installed in this little square in the middle of Lower Lonsdale.  Should be fun.  So far lots of people have expressed strong feelings both for and against.  If you are interested in vibrant discussions about public art, this will definitely be worth attending.
A press release sent out by greatroadsideattractions@gmail.com, an email address known to be affiliated with Scott August’s public installation practice argues that if the installation is permitted it would be a departure from typical memorialisations of settler history and open up space for broader understandings and imaginings of the geography they might one day be installed on.
Passerby Views Public Art Proposal Billboard in Pinnacle Square

Passerby Views Public Art Proposal Billboard in Pinnacle Square

People communicating with the cafe have offered all sorts of angles.   The comments range from “You guys are radical this is awesome!” “I have a degree in Art History, I get what you are doing.  This is absolutely great!” “So is this just a conceptual work or do they actually want to put these things up?” and “Vancouver needs to loosen up, you know, Andy Warhol once came here and said, people here don’t buy art because they’re too busy looking at the mountains” to “so how far is the proposal along?  Did you apply to the city?…  I just wanna let you know I’m not too keen, this is going to block my water view… you know you’ve upset lots of people in the building here, we felt pretty blindsided by this proposal”  and red faced not so subtle threats to send the lawyers.  Some question how a cowboy might be relevant to North Vancouver, why not a whale, a lumberjack or a ship builder people ask, or, why his face and not mine.  Another said, “maybe in Castlegar, but a cowboy here?  No way!  This is an upscale neighbourhood!”
For me, I’m just thankful for the conversation and think the proposal has been a magnificent addition to the overall exhibition.  In no more than proposal form these works have opened a window to the sensation of disorienting interventions in a claimed cultural space and sparked hope for an urban environment with a sense of humour.
Totem pole next to the Credit Union building, Edgewood, BC, 2005 Photo: Jutta Ploessner Source: http://www.firstnations.eu/invasion/sinixt.htm

Totem pole next to the Credit Union building, Edgewood, BC, 2005 Photo: Jutta Ploessner; http://www.firstnations.eu/invasion/sinixt.htm

In some ways and for some people I guess the proposal can act as a kind of clandestine cognate to the the Sinixt’s totem pole, which was erected by BC Hydro in the late 1960s as a memorial to an extinct race.  This was some 10 years after the Sinixt had been declared extinct, and the Columbia River Treaty had been signed, and a massive portion of Sinixt traditional territory had been flooded out with damns.  Among the many problems with that public art commission were the facts that the Sinixt weren’t extinct and that they, like most Salishan peoples including those who once lived in what is now known as Stanley Park, never made totem poles anyway.   It just didn’t/doesn’t make sense.

Considering the way in which much of our art (public or otherwise) continues to inform our understanding of the territory we live on (here in BC, but probably elsewhere too), it makes sense to grasp for other possibilities.  And rather than just going ahead and confidently offering an alternative set of narratives it is probably worthwhile to welcome broader questions about our concepts of time and the constitution of memory. Perhaps signs like Scott’s and Steve’s are in order.  In their abstraction, absurdity and bold humour  they have already proven to act as a play on the orientation of the cultural tables.  Who knows, in the long run they might actually be able to help crack open some space for broader understandings and imaginings of the territories they engage with.  Who knows…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: