On a beautiful sunny Wednesday, I adventured to Squamish with my classmate Marc (http://milkywilky.com or http://www.marcsist.com) to explore the Squamish BIKEnnale/ WALKennale Tour, part of the Vancouver Biennale’s Open Air Museum. The beautiful sunshine and crisp cold air made for a truly refreshing experience. We visited four of the five installments in Squamish, two of the Open Air Museum and two of the Artist Residency Program.
The first installation that we found was the Public Furniture | Urban Trees by Hugo Franca of Brazil. It is located in an empty field beside a busy intersection, very close to an elementary school. The installation enhances this vacant space by offer visual interest, as well as a place to sit and rest. While we explored the site several groups of people walked by, but none interacted with the space. Drivers waiting at the intersection watched as Marc and I explored the furniture. We considered that few were interacting with the space because it had been around for so long. The furniture is visually engaging to passersby, as it lends interest to an otherwise lackluster space. The public furniture is successful in that they are fun pieces to test out and climb over and around. I felt the work was lacking in the location and placement of the chairs. The largest bench could’ve been placed closer to the bus stop, providing more area for people waiting to sit. The location of the whole installation wasn’t desirable in my opinion; I would’ve liked to see it set back from the road. Though from all the seats and every direction they face, beautiful views of Squamish can be enjoyed.
The second installation we stumbled upon was the Untitled wolf mosaic by Vik Muniz of Brazil. This installment was harder to find but the large pink and yellow Biennale sign signaled we had found it. The installment is behind a yellow rent-a-fence and next to decommissioned railroad tracks which are also fenced in with barbed wire. On the other side of the mosaic is the river and behind it the public-park and bike pump track. This area of Squamish is a riverside public walking trail and park, offering beautiful views of the Chief and surrounding mountains. Not much enhancement is needed as the beauty is in the simplicity of nature. While enhancement is not required, the Untitled work still enhances the area with visual interest and potential conversations. Passersby are first enticed to check out and explore the large metal scaffolding-life staircase. Once at the entrance to the stairs, signs show what is to be seen. In my opinion, the installment engages passersby positively if they climb the staircase. Otherwise, from the ground passersby see un-kept land surrounded by an ugly yellow fence. From the viewing platform, one gets a birds eye view of the wolf mosaic. The installment is successful with its beauty and creates conversations about the local wildlife and natural landscape. We happened to be at the top as the sun was nearing the mountaintops, it would be a wonderful location to watch the sunset. I feel the work could be improved in two ways: by replacing the yellow fence with something more organic and less obvious, and by installing light sensors that would trip when a visitor reaches the top viewing platform so the work can be enjoyed at nighttime.
Marc and I decided since we’d already made the journey up the Sea to Sky and since all the installments are so close together, we would visit some more. But with the sun setting and the temperature dropping we were quite quick about it.
After some circling around, we found the installment titled Breath Song by Sumakshi Singh of India. There was no Biennale sign for this work. It’s located in a residential area, next to a little river inlet (which houses a wonderfully interesting boat of some kind). This work can be viewed from either side, each offering spectacular views of the scenery. Marc and I discussed this piece in detail, I found inspiration for my final project.
We walked briskly back to the car to escape the cold and wind. We were so close to our next stop, we should’ve just walked. Our final visit was to “I Have A Dream” Community Project by Shweta Bhattad of India. This installment runs parallel to the road and is located on residential property. The craftsmanship in the woodworking was lovely. The spacing of the letters (kerning) and of the words wasn’t very aesthetically pleasing and that distracted me.
My overall impression from the first installment to the last changed as I saw each one, and compared and contrasted the works. I thoroughly enjoyed the chance to get out of the classroom and out of the city. Overall, I felt the Squamish BIKEnnale/ WALKennale Tour was a success.