Public Art and the Beauty of Debris

Dec 19 2017, 7:33 am

Vancouver is a city in a state of flux, and we are reminded of this every day with the orgy of tower cranes and new condos that populate its skyline. To some this is exciting, but to others this explosive growth is frightening. The MadeIn Company has taken this into account, and Calm, its public art installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s offsite exhibition space on West Georgia & Thurlow (next to the Shangri-La), reminds us that there is beauty amongst all this flux, and that much of this beauty is rather subtle.

This exhibit is easy to miss, because to the untrained eye it looks like nothing but a drab L-shaped wall and a pile of bricks and other debris – the kind you would find at any of the myriad construction sites littered across this city. But upon closer inspection it becomes evident that there is a genius to this debris pile – a beauty similar to what Keats tried to capture in Ode on a Grecian Urn. As you stare at the bricks and cinder blocks the pile appears to move in a wave-like fashion – an apparent commentary on the sea of construction that is Vancouver. Or perhaps it is alluding to something far more sinister – that this current state of flux and the resulting good-times is but a mirage, and we are in reality experiencing the calm before the proverbial storm.

Regardless of how you choose to interpret this piece, there is no doubt that at the core of this exhibit is the tired but true cliché that we need to ‘stop and smell the roses.’ However, in this case we are stopping to smell the bricks, and like roses they too can be beautiful. So whether you think this piece is an ode to the Grecian Urn that is construction in Vancouver, or a harbinger of doom, there is no doubt that this city will continue to experience beauty.

Calm runs until September 29, 2013.


Written by Jason Smythe. Connect with Jason on Twitter @JasonSmythe4.