Westside Palimpsest by Dona Nabata
Westside Palimpsest by Dona Nabata

Platforms: We Are Here, Live brings 23 new temporary public art works to Vancouver streets

November 1 2021 –

Throughout November, residents and visitors can view the first of 23 new public art installations presented on seven platforms across Vancouver. Art installations include banners at Vancouver Public Library’s Central Branch and the glass wall at City Centre Canada Line Station. 

Supporting local artists

Platforms: We Are Here, Live is a public art initiative that will run until November 2022. New works of art are released each month and will be displayed for one to twelve months, depending on the platform the piece is presented on. The commissioned artworks present strong ideas reflecting the complexities and anxieties surrounding the pandemic, and seek to encourage critical dialogue and engagement.

COVID-19 has magnified and deepened all social, health, and economic inequities of our society, making art an important way to respond creatively to this moment. Each Vancouver-based and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) artist was selected based on their unique struggles highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

November’s artworks

  • Tafui, Out of Many, presented on Vancouver Public Library banners

Out of Many is inspired by the similarities of racialized and Indigenous cultures throughout the globe and the idea that 'we belong to each other'. Tafui’s practice is informed by the idea that through the understanding of our histories and shared experiences, we become united as people, as cultures, and to the earth.

  • Romane Bladou, All That We Cannot Grasp, presented on šxʷƛ̓exən Xwtl’a7shn Lightbox    

All That We Cannot Grasp is about reflection, projection, and movement. The work evokes notions of uncertainty and groundlessness. It is about trying to find rest in the tumult but always moving with it. It is an invitation to embrace the uncertain state we find ourselves in, and to try to situate ourselves in this blur and confusion.

  • Dona Nabata, Westside Palimpsest, presented on the billboard at Arbutus Street and West 12th Avenue

Westside Palimpsest continues Nabata’s interest in illustrating the Asian experience in Canada. The bust of an Asian woman is front and centre in the piece. Within the demographic of the west side of Vancouver, she is not out of place, but in an art context, she is unusual. Nabata hopes the Vancouver public will see themselves reflected in the piece by enabling them to identify with the central figure, or by finding kinship with other characters.

  • Scott Billings, between you and me; the gap that parts us today, will still have zero thickness tomorrow; between you and me, presented on City Centre Canada Line Station windows

Billings’ work reflects on the ebbs, flows, and waves of the pandemic and its social impacts. Stability follows tragedy; quietude follows anxiety. Billings invites the viewer to take a step back so we may all move forward as one, and for the chaos to appear less chaotic. 

Find artist bios, monthly announcements, and the full list of platforms.

Art for public spaces

Our public art program supports critical artistic exploration and reflects on the complexities of place, publics, and culture. The program prioritizes artist-centred approaches and respectful relations in pursuit of a vision where the work of artists is integrated into daily life.

Learn more about how we support contemporary art for public spaces throughout Vancouver.