Two women walk past ‘The Meeting’ sculptures in White Rock’s Miramar Plaza Wednesday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Two women walk past ‘The Meeting’ sculptures in White Rock’s Miramar Plaza Wednesday afternoon. (Aaron Hinks photo)

New public art in White Rock draws criticism as the ‘two Michaels’ remain in China’s custody

‘I would encourage people to go out and enjoy it’ said Vancouver Biennale founder

One of the goals of public art is to spur contemplation and conversation – and a sculpture depicting eight red, crouching Buddhist monks, installed recently in White Rock’s Miramar Plaza, is doing just that.

Before coming to White Rock, the Bosa Properties and Vancouver Biennale installation, The Meeting – by Chinese artist Wang Shugang – was commissioned for the 2007 G8 Summit in Germany.

“Open to various interpretations, one wonders if they are in deep diplomatic negotiations, quietly meditating or simply enjoying a conversation amongst friends,” Bosa Properties stated in a news release about the artwork.

A level of curiosity, and subsequent conversation and debate, is part of the intent of the piece, said Vancouver Biennale founder and artistic director, Barrie Mowatt.

For at least two residents, however, the sculpture serves as a reminder of injustice.

Edie Williams and Thomas Honeymoon both wrote to Peace Arch News, expressing disappointment that a piece of art created by a Chinese artist is being displayed in the community, while the government of China continues to hold two Canadians – Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig – in prison, as it has done for more than two years.

“I have to ask myself – is that a good thing to put up with two Canadians in jail over there?” wrote Williams.

“To me it is a slap in the face to Canadians and a permanent reminder of the injustice of the Chinese Communist government,” Honeyman wrote.

SEE ALSO: As trials loom, China says case of two Michaels handled ‘in accordance with the law’

Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau has called the detention of the two Michaels “arbitrary” and accused China of a lack of transparency. The two men were arrested just days after police in Vancouver arrested Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou at the behest of the U.S. Justice Department.

Told of concerns raised regarding the dentention of the two Michaels, Mowatt said he’s glad that people are engaged.

“That’s one of the great objectives, I guess, of any arts or cultural installation is to connect with people and engage with people,” Mowatt said.

He said it’s unfortunate that some people tend to start with a negative mindset when approaching public art.

“The opportunity for them is that they can maybe open their minds to be receptive of the broader perspective of what the art is all about. Art is never about one particular perspective and one particular event,” Mowatt said.

He said the sculpture is a legacy piece and Bosa Properties should be congratulated and celebrated for going beyond a developer’s requirement for public art.

SEE ALSO: China charges ‘two Michaels’ with spying in Huawei-linked case

“They made this decision as a means to activate and bring people into the area,” he said.

“Once an artist creates something, no matter what the artist’s concept was, once it leaves the artist’s hands, its interpretation becomes that of whoever sees it or participates with it. It is no longer the artist’s.”

According to description on the Vancouver Biennale website, the sculptures are painted “Chinese Red,” the colour associated with the Chinese government and communism.

“The colour has multiple cultural meanings in China, historically representing happiness, but during the Cultural Revolution it symbolized terror. Today red is the colour of the faded lettering praising Mao on the ceilings of the factories, coats of the Buddhist monks and the colour of wedding decorations,” Shugang explained in a description of the piece.

The art made its North American debut as part of the 2009-2011 Vancouver Biennale exhibition. From 2014-2016, the The Meeting was relocated to Rey Sargent Park in North Vancouver.

In 2017, The Meeting was loaned to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for the 375th anniversary of Montreal, the 50th anniversary of Expo 67 and the 150th anniversary of Canada.

“There’s a lot of history there,” said Mowatt. “I would encourage people to go out and enjoy it and be playful with it.”

– with files from the Canadian Press



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

ArtWhite Rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Statue of Lady Justice at B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Delta Patriots Cricket Club takes Surrey, other clubs to court over Cricket BC voting

‘At issue is the propriety or legality of the voting procedures within Cricket BC,’ Justice John Harvey noted

Surrey Eagles forward Rocco La Cara battles with Coquitlam Express forward Dante Berrettoni during a game earlier this season. (Damon James photo)
Surrey Eagles wrap up BCHL ‘pod’ season with win over Coquitlam

South Surrey-based junior ‘A’ hockey team finishes with 17-2-1 record

A grave marker at the old pet cemetery in Newton, from video posted to the Youtube channel Exit Thru the Gift Shop.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Newton’s abandoned pet cemetery now surrounded by houses

VIDEO: Former B.C. Pet Cemetery might also be a burial site for human remains

Surrey RCMP detachment in Newton. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP say cryptocurrency fraud on the rise

They’ve received 59 reports of cryptocurrency fraud totaling $612,748 since January

(The Canadian Press)
Trudeau won’t say whether Canada supports patent waiver for COVID-19 vaccines

‘Canada is at the table to help find a solution’

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

RCMP officers search around rows of luggage carts as screens block off an area of the sidewalk after a shooting outside the international departures terminal at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Police say gang conflict in Metro Vancouver may be behind shooting death at airport

Police said this generation of gangsters is taking things to new level and have no regard for community safety

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

RCMP are looking for information on an alleged shooting attempt near an elementary school in Smithers March 10. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News/Stock)
UPDATE: Man killed in brazen daylight shooting at Vancouver airport

Details about the police incident are still unknown

Pieces of nephrite jade are shown at a mine site in northwestern B.C. in July 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Tahltan Central Government MANDATORY CREDIT
Indigenous nation opposes jade mining in northwestern B.C.

B.C.’s Mines Act requires operators to prepare a plan to protect cultural heritage resources

Vancouver Giants celebrated a Justin Sourdif goal Saturday night in Kamloops. Giants dropped a 3-1 decision to Kamloops, a game that clinched the 2020-21 B.C. Division banner for the Blazers. (Allen Douglas/special to Langley Advance Times)
VIDEO: Vancouver Giants drop 3-1 decision to Kamloops

Third-period rally should have come sooner, said coach of Langley-based team

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country’s crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
IHIT investigating after man killed in Burnaby shooting

Police looking for more information on fatal shooting

Most Read