ART SEEN: The Shadow that came for a visit to the University of B.C.

Where does a new work of art come from?

Is it outside the artist waiting to be found? Or is it in the artist waiting to be discovered?

With Esther Shalev-Gerz, it was a little of both. When I asked her how she came up with The Shadow, she told a story about walking around the University of B.C. campus one day. Shalev-Gerz, who lives in Paris but spends her summers on Cortes Island in B.C., said she was thinking about the verticality of Jim Hart’s Reconciliation Pole at the south end of the campus and the flagpole at the north end by the Rose Garden.

She said the campus, being elevated slightly above sea level, made her think of the horizon and how the views of the ocean on Burrard Inlet accentuate the horizontality of the landscape.

“Suddenly, this shadow came for a visit,” she said in a phone interview from Paris.

“Some of my works just come and say: ‘Hey, I’m here. You have to realize me.’ I was so surprised.”

Shalev-Gerz’s proposal for The Shadow is to locate it on University Plaza, in front of The Nest, the new Alma Mater Society student building. About 24,000 paving stones in three shades of grey are meant to create a pixilated shadow of a first growth Douglas fir on the plaza crossed by thousands of students and faculty every day.

But anyone walking at ground level will only be able to see parts of the work. Getting an overall sense of the 100 metre by 22 metre shadow will require being elevated above ground level by going, for example, to the nearby roof garden on the top of The Nest.

The Shadow might have made a surprise visit to Shalev-Gerz but it was her previous work that allowed her to recognize its importance. Shalev-Gerz’s Monument Against Fascism in Hamburg, Germany, reimagines the vertical as a quality in public art. As people wrote their names on a 12-meter vertical column, it was lowered in seven stages into the ground until all that was visible was the top. In White Point/Meeting Point in Oslo, she proposed covering a dark-coloured plaza in front of a centre for the Holocaust and religious minorities in Oslo with a thin layer of white paint. The shoes of visitors walking over the surface would collectively wear away the white surface to leave a drawing which

Source:: Vancouver Sun – Entertainment

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