New Public Art connects Edmonton to locations around the globe

Spinning a globe and seeing where your finger lands is a way to learn geography or plan a vacation, but for Thorsten Goldberg, it was the inspiration for new public art taking Edmontonians to five locations around the world.

Goldberg, a Berlin based multimedia artist, has been creating public art since 1995. His commission, 53°20 – 40’N, will feature at a new state-of-the-art transit garage set to open in North East Edmonton in early 2019. The piece explores the City’s connection with the rest of the world through a series of five topographic models of mountain landscapes from different parts of the world along the same latitude as Edmonton. The models depict Mount Chown in Alberta, Mount Okmok in the Aleutians, Zhupanovsky Crater in Kamchatka, Russia, an unnamed landscape near Dacaodianzi, Heilongjiang Sheng, China and Mweelrea, Ireland.

“This artwork is not about a static geographical subject, a single mountain, but instead is about the landscapes that lie on this east-west route,” says Goldberg. “It is much more about movement and transport.”

Goldberg’s work will feature aluminum casts of digital models from mountain landscapes on the exact same latitude of Edmonton. These aluminum landscapes will be mounted on lanterns crowning the new transit garage. Each lantern will resemble a standardized train container, symbolizing the global movement of goods.

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“The result is an artwork that celebrates Edmonton as a world city, and our continual forward motion as a centre for collaboration, discovery and exploration.” says Katherine Kerr, Public Art Director for the Edmonton Arts Council.

This is the largest art commission in Edmonton to date, but the decision to invest in one large project, rather than a few smaller ones, was based on the size of the new ETS garage site and the volume of traffic passing by the site when it opens.

Edmonton has recognized the importance of Public Art by creating the Percent for Art program which allocates 1% of the eligible construction budget of any publically accessible municipal project for the acquisition of art.

The policy was created to enhance the quality of life and livability for Edmontonians. The program is directed by the Edmonton Arts Council, whose expertise shapes the program’s vision. Previous artworks funded by this program include the Vaulted Willow in Borden Park and Immense Mode at the Southgate LRT Station.

“Art that takes place in everyday life and in the public space can do so much: it can interpret space, it can create imaginary space, it can be a place for communication, it can help viewers identify with the site, it can make the place unique, it can point to something, it can tell stories.” says Goldberg.

When 53°20 – 40’N is unveiled in 2019, Edmontonians will be able to view the landscapes that are so foreign and distant, but connect us in a straight line across the world; almost as easy as spinning a globe.

A full list of Edmonton’s public art is available here.

For more information on Thorsten Goldberg and 53°20 – 40’N please see this interview at the Edmonton Arts Council website.

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