Olympic festivities: The art part

Vancouver public art project to engage (and enrage) spectators during the Games.

Credit: Ian Mitchell

Vancouver City Hall spearheads massive public art project

From the uproar over the rusting hulk of French sculptor Bernar Venet’s 217.5 Arcs X 13 (popularly referred to as the “whale carcass”) at English Bay and Sunset Beach, to a group of Coal Harbour residents successfully lobbying to uproot Dennis Oppenheim’s Device To Root Out Evil from their million-dollar views, public art in Vancouver has always been a lightning rod for controversy.

Perhaps hoping that Olympic goodwill will soften the hard-hearted and real estate speculators alike, City Hall is investing in a massive public art project that will encompass temporary installations as well as works on permanent display across the city.


Insider guide to the 2010 Winter Games

What to do in and around Vancouver during the party of the century

Daily events coverage, city secrets, athlete profiles and TV picks

In what may well end up the only evidence of traditional winter weather at the Games, German artist Gunda Förster will sheath city hall in reflective, shimmering ice.

Meanwhile, a roving information kiosk, Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver, by Emily Carr graduate Vanessa Kwan, will ask passers-by to interact with the cityscape thanks to cut-outs in touristy postcards.

Fiona Bowie’s Surface will use a camera mounted under the Granville Island Aquabus to transmit live underwater images onto the boat’s canopy and onto screens around False Creek and on the internet.

And, in what might be the most interesting commission from an impending public outrage point of view, Myfanwy Macleod’s first public sculpture tackles the thorny issue of how “the beauty of birds can sometimes mask their threat to biodiversity” and takes pride of place in Southeast False Creek’s Olympic Plaza, just a few metres as the crow flies from the Olympic Village’s man-made island bird sanctuary.

For a complete list of public art unveilings and accompanying map, visit www.vancouver.ca.