The Vancouver Public Art Program presents A Sign for the City, a year-long public art project by Sabine Bitter/Helmut Weber.
A Sign for the City reassigns the meaning of the regular nightly boom of Vancouver’s Nine O’clock Gun. Starting in May for one year, a poster will appear monthly in bus shelters and in the Georgia Straight dedicating the sound of the blast each day to a particular cultural, social or political figure or event in Vancouver and B.C.’s history. A calendar will also be produced that lists the people to whom the 365 cannon reports are dedicated: the blast and the texts will memorialize an alternative history of Vancouver and symbolically link culture and politics as the ground of this history.
“Vancouver’s Nine O’clock Gun is a twelve-pound cannon in Stanley Park, that is fired nightly at nine pm. Originally a gift from the British government in 1856, the cannon has been in the park for 107 years and was initially fired as a signal to close the fishing day and as a navigational aid. Today, the cannon’s boom is an empty signifier. Therefore, we propose to appropriate the cannon’s report for one year as a commemorative blast to deceased BC writers, artists, and political figures and past place-making events.” – Artists’ Statement
This public artwork refers to a 2003 sculptural and acoustic work done in Berlin by Croatian artist Sanja Ivekovic. Called A Sign for Rosa Luxembourg, the work used the sound of a cannon “as a memorial trigger to provoke not only a “sign of remembrance, but also a sign by which [the citizens of Berlin] will measure their own time, their lives”. (Bojana Peji in Sanja Ivekovic: Public Cuts)
The design of the posters references early conceptual artworks, typography and philosophical journals. The artists worked with a young Vancouver design studio, Working Format, founded by Abi Huynh, Grace Partridge & Ross Milne.
Sabine Bitter & Helmut Weber have collaborated since 1994, working between Vancouver and Vienna. Their work is based in research and addresses cities, modernist architecture and the politics of representation and space. They have exhibited extensively in Europe and Canada. Recent projects include Learning from Vancouver, with Urban Subjects and Bik van der Pol, at the Western Front, Vancouver, and Communitas: The Unrepresentable Community at Camera Austria, Graz, Austria, among others.
Sign for the City is commissioned by the City of Vancouver Public Art Program with support of Vancouver 125 and the participation of the Government of Canada and the assistance of the British Columbia Arts Council. The project was commissioned as part of Changing Times, a request for proposals from artists to address the city, its histories and its times, in honour of the anniversary year.
Georgia Straight – “New Sign for the City reclaims human stories”