This December, the City of Vancouver Public Art Program is pleased to present the final month of Platforms 2020: Public Works. Every month, starting in June, artworks responding to our current condition have been presented on platforms throughout the city, from transit shelters and billboards to the VanLive screen and digital street signage. In this final round of Platforms 2020, artworks by Paige Gratland, Nick Conbere and Fred Wah, Mustaali Raj, Kisyuu and Shion Skye Carter, Wade Comer and Tafui continue to highlight the crucial role that art plays in our community at this critical moment.
Paige Gratland’s Grey Area (2020) will be presented on transit shelters throughout the city from November 30 to December 27. The photograph of Gratland’s handwoven “web” was created during the early months of the pandemic as a way to process the uncertainty, injustice, grief and upheaval that continues to mark our daily lives. The piece embodies the labour and meditative nature of time spent in her studio under lockdown, and is connected to centuries long cross-cultural traditions of hand-woven cloths as shrouds that cover or protect the body in birth, life and death.
The drawing and text Dear Tree (2020) by the artist Nick Conbere and poet Fred Wah will also be presented on transit shelters throughout Vancouver from November 30 to December 27. This collaborative drawing is based on sketches that Conbere created of Vancouver’s surrounding forests to which Wah responded through poetry. Inspired by forest ecology and the virus, their work presents themes such as rootedness, growth, decay and resilience that are especially resonant in this challenging time.
Stills from Mustaali Raj’s digital animation COEXIST (2020) will be shown on digital street signage across the city from November 30 to December 27. In these digital images Raj presents the resilience of circular forms as they morph into familiar and new forms, creating integrated patterns that are ever-changing. Unsettled and restless in the past few months, Raj wanted to take the time to explore form by deconstructing traditional motifs, slowing down his process and taking a breath and appreciating the result.
The video Flow Tide (2020) by Japanese calligraphy artist Kisyuu and dancer Shion Skye Carter will be presented on the VanLive Screen at Granville and Robson from November 30 to December 27. In this work the artists collaborated for the first time while in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic to explore the relationship between traditional calligraphy and dance. Each brushstroke is a call to which the dancer responds, the piece takes the form of an abstract conversation that embodies their connections to their Japanese roots, to their art forms, and to one another.
Wade Comer’s photograph Isolation (2020) will be presented on a billboard at Broadway and Prince Edward Street from December 7 to January 3. In this photograph, Comer uses a long exposure to capture Stanley Park at night revealing details that are often obscured during the daytime. Living across the street from the busy park, the artist has found comfort in its silence, solitude and stillness at night. The empty bench in this nighttime park is also a fitting analogy for a world in lockdown.
Tafui’s striking work We Are One (2020) will be presented on a billboard at Helmcken near Granville from December 7 to January 3. Tafui’s practice includes painting, printmaking, wood carving and textile art, the interconnectedness between these disciplines explored through a restructuring of approaches to minimal mark-making. Complexity is achieved in these works through the addition or removal of elements from their natural structures, mimicking how we ourselves are marked day-to-day by our histories and experiences. The artist explains: “My work is inspired by the idea that ‘we belong to each other’ and through the understanding of our histories and shared experiences we become united, as people, as cultures, and to the earth.”
For more information about this program visit: vancouver.ca/platforms
Image Credit: Tafui, We Are One (2020), Mixed Media on Paper