Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Time to Let Go: Art, Augury, and a Little Healing


 Saturday morning, I woke at 5. Again. Annoying, but at least it gave me an hour's running time before our 8:30 ferry to Vancouver. A good thing because I was carrying some anxiety over an upcoming appointment, and running is a great antidote to anxiety. . .

Showered, dressed, packed a weekend's gear onto the bike, and Pater and I bike-boated-drove to the big ferry where we then had time for a leisurely breakfast while reading the weekend newspapers.

Once on the mainland, he dropped me off downtown where I was meeting a sister-in-law for lunch, the first major attempt at reconciling a family rift that's lasted almost a year. I think we did really well, my sister-in-law and I, but those were two emotionally gruelling hours.

So how serendipitous that Pater pulled up to the curb (not quite randomly but blocks from the restaurant) in front of this recent, and temporary, installation of Vancouver artist Babak Golkar's "participatory" work -- the terracotta vessels apparently are "designed to contain sound" and the interpretive plaque exhorts the observer to "Step up and release your emotions."

No, I didn't. But I was soothed by the tranquil beauty of the organic shapes and colours, the reflecting pool's amplifying of the overall sense of containment and reflection, reassuring. . . .


.And perhaps you can guess at the title of the piece, from catching some of the words in the photo above. Yes, it's called Time to Let Go. . .

I must admit that I didn't register the title at the time. I suspect I might have recoiled a bit from such an overdetermined message. But in retrospect, it's easy to like the augury. We'll see. . . .

Public art, though, it's clear to me, augurs well for all of us. You can see, in the photo above, the contrast with the nearby street scene. The water's surface captures the city's busy rhythms and transmutes them. . . I love how the busy architectural lines of surrounding towers are absorbed into the installation, subsumed by the very different, softer regularity of the sandbags. The terra cotta square stepping stones mimic the right-angled urban geometries, but link those to the organic curves of the vessels through their shared material. Can we yield as easily from angled rigidities to more organic uncertainty, adaptability? To letting go?

And although I find the title perhaps a wee bit dictatorial, I love that the installation itself doesn't erase the surrounding geometric clutter but softens it in reflection. I'm not sure how well (or, at least, how quickly) we can "let go" of some hurts, some anxieties, some difficulties. But we can soften them, allow beauty to emerge alongside, let the dissonance fall into the background. At least momentarily, occasionally.

Has public art soothed or amused or inspired you?

13 comments:

  1. So admirable that you and you SIL sat down to start working things through. It takes all our adult skills to do that. I hope that the public art - which I love BTW - foretold correctly.

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    1. Well, we'll see where it goes, but adult skills were used, indeed! ;-)

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  2. The art is really quite serene and the water helps to soften and carry the message...I applaud your bravery and dedication to work on a family issue that is fraught with emotional tension. Our family has dealt with a similar situation and no matter what I did or tried the other party refused so sadly we do not see this person and she has alienated most of the family by her toxic behaviours. I wish some peace and respite for you this week....and hope you are feeling optimistic.

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    1. There may well be such a person in our situation as well, but knowing how much love is the foundation here, it seems worth trying, as you have done. Thanks for the good wishes.

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  3. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibition when I get home. Sometimes we just have to let go of difficult relationships. Good for you for seeing your sister-in-law and trying to reconcile.

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    1. It's just a single installation on Georgia Street, but a lovely interruption of the city pace. . . . and I like that you've pointed out that this can be another form of letting go, not necessarily letting go of the hurts, but sometimes letting go of the relationship that caused the pain. . .

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  4. Confronting family rifts head on and taking time to try and work things out is brave and I admire that. The art is beautiful in the photograph, the way it reflects the city around it. So much hides beneath the surface in water… many layers to think about in terms of letting go. As for public art in general, perhaps we need more, and I am always happy to see it.

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    1. So many layers, you're right. And the public art, inviting us to stop, look, think, and perhaps even carry something away with us -- whether I end up liking the piece or not, I almost always value the intention.

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  5. Mostly, public art confounds more often than astounds. Like performance art, find I have less time these days to stand there and try to engage with it.

    Family rifts are worth the effort, though. Sometimes the results come in tiny steps and stages.

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    1. I generally don't mind being confounded, although I can often match your impatience with conceptual art. Still the assertion of the importance of art in a public space always seems worthwhile to me.
      And I take your point about the tiny steps and stages. I'm being very careful to keep my expectations small. A meaningful result for me, at this point, is simply having made a move in extending the invitation. I wouldn't want to look back and know I'd not done at least that. . .

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  6. I love public art for the fact that it makes me stop and think. So often we are rushing along, not noticing things ...

    I wish you well with healing the family rift. I have seen too many allowed to continue until it becomes too late for all.

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    1. Exactly. Even the pausing itself, the noticing even before the observing and thinking, is worthwhile, I think.
      Thanks for the well-wishing. It's precisely that hardening with time that I felt I had to try to act against. Can't help think of what heritage I leave for my kids and grandkids. . .

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  7. I'm glad you and SIL started the process. Families can be so emotionally charged it takes a lot of guts to start the ball rolling. I hope things work out for you.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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