Platforms 2020: Public Works November Program

The City of Vancouver Public Art Program is pleased to present the November edition of Platforms 2020: Public Works. Throughout the month artworks by Sunroop Kaur, Ryley O’Byrne, Dejan Radovanovic, Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo, Manuel Axel Strain, and Gerri York will be presented on the city’s public art platforms, including transit shelters, billboards, the VanLive screen, and digital street signage. Selected as part of an open-call process, the works highlight the crucial role that art plays in our community at this critical moment.

Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo’s drawing Hybrid Creatures (2020) will be shown on a billboard at Broadway and Prince Edward Street (November 9 to December 7).  Castillo’s work is motivated by an intuitive construction of collective memory in the form of personal storytelling. It casts political commentary, voices modes of resistance, and most recently speaks to a process of reconciliation, re-growth and healing. Hybrid Creatures proposes the importance of personal myth as a guiding metaphor that supports us to reconnect with our lives. Reflecting on our recent times of collective unease and anxiety, this project offers the public the opportunity to explore and re-discover their own story, voice and myth anew in an uncertain world.

Sunroop Kaur’s painting Biogenesis of She (2019) will be presented on transit shelters throughout the city (November 2 to 29). This painting is a self-portrait of the artist both nurturing and in turn being sustained by plants in a transitory space between the domestic and outdoors. Kaur’s painting examines the simulations of “real” nature and our primordial desire to both cultivate plants inside our home and be surrounded by nature. This homage to classical painting is an uncanny portrayal of the artist’s lockdown surroundings, whose setting and gaze capture a truer self-portrait of the artist. 

Placeholder (2020) by Ryley O’Byrne is a digital and photo collage that will be exhibited on the billboard at Helmcken near Granville (November 9 to December 7). Since the pandemic, O’Byrne has been working on a project documenting touch, intimacy, and loss through text and images. Interested in how the world has had to shift and expand methods of communicating, the artist captures this curious and complicated space where technology and humanity blend, in order to learn how to grieve, love, and care in these peculiar times.

Dejan Radovanovic’s video Talking Trees (2020) will be presented on the VanLive screen at Robson and Granville (November 2 to 29). This meditative piece is a digital animation of a miracle forest where trees can communicate with their visitors, helping them to create interpretations, speculations, and meanings. Placing the inner world above external reality, this video reveals that there is no better place to contemplate ourselves than in the woods.

Manuel Axel Strain’s photograph Harmoniousness Reductions (2020) will be shown on transit shelters throughout the city (November 2 to 29). This work brings greater visibility to a current health crisis that is less talked about: the overdose epidemic, and its disproportionate impact on Indigenous people. In the photograph, the artist, painted in red pigment, holds cedar bows wrapped with tourniquets, combining both healing components with a gesture that stands for the grasping of life. The artist describes the work as an image of survival, and testament to his own endurance, having been sober now for more than six and a half years and having lost countless others to the disease.

Gerri York’s photographic series Distant (2007) will be presented on twenty digital signs throughout the city (November 2 to 29). This series was shot by the artist as they waited to enter an Antony Gormley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London, watching visitors struggling to negotiate their way through the interior of the gallery. These photographs record an installation intended to solicit disorientation, and are looked to now by York as a chilling reminder of social distancing measures and typical encounters that we have in public space today.

For more information about this program visit: vancouver.ca/platforms

Image Credit: Ryley O’Byrne, Placeholder, 2020, photo and digital collage

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