Public art struggles for sites in Vancouver
About 30 new sculptures will appear around the beaches, parks and bikeways of Vancouver over the next few weeks, but don't expect to see too many controversial works in high-profile locations.
The public art is part of the 2009 Vancouver Biennale, a free exhibition that has taken place every two years in Vancouver for the past decade.
But after a metal sculpture of an upside down church, called Device to Root out Evil, generated too much controversy during the 2007 exhibition, Vancouver officials appear to be taking a much more cautious approach to locating this year's sculptures, particularly with the Olympics coming to town.
Locations hard to find
Gallery operator Barry Mowatt, who founded the Vancouver Biennale, says it has been hard to find locations for some of the installations in Vancouver for the upcoming show because of the control the 2010 Winter Olympics have over public spaces in the city.
"The Olympics seem to have a great swath of controlling everything in its path — the look, the image of almost everything in the city," Mowatt told CBC News on Thursday.
In comparison, Richmond has welcomed seven or eight of the more challenging works this year, according to Mowatt.
One Russian sculpture called Angels and Demons, depicting baby-like figures with demon wings, will be sited in the city to the south of Vancouver, while another challenging sculpture called Miss Mao trying to poise herself at the top of Lenin's head, by the Gao Brothers from China, is already sited in Richmond.
"I only wish Vancouver could have as much enthusiasm … as we're seeing in Richmond," said Mowatt.
City closely involved: commissioner
Vancouver Park Board commissioner Aaron Jasper said city officials are closely involved in selecting locations for the artworks, but he's not aware of any problems finding sites for the sculptures.
"In terms of the artwork itself, we leave that to the professionals, but definitely we want to be very involved in the siting and locations," said Jasper.
One sculpture in particular, a 30-metre work called Water designed specifically for Vancouver's waterfront, has yet to find a home.
Still, people can expect to see some challenging artwork as part of the Biennale this year, said Mowatt.
"You're going to see works from conceptual works that catch you off-guard and are not what you expect to be 'public art,'" said Mowatt.