banner photo:

"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hideous Public Art (4)

This week's example comes from Ottawa, the nation's capital, where everything is political including the hideous public art. This eyesore is installed near Ottawa City Hall and is titled "The Dorothy O'Connell Monument to Anti-Poverty Activism".

It consists of a massive block of red granite shaped like a slice of bread (or maybe a muffin) with a house-shaped piece punched out of the centre and lying on the ground nearby.

Engraved in the hole (in both official languages, of course) is the message "Poverty stops equality - equality stops poverty".

I presume that the toast-like shape is meant to symbolize "our daily bread" and the house-shaped hole is a literal reference to homelessness. Admirable sentiments, but as art it's not much more than a really lame visual pun. A better title would be "The French Toast of Poverty Meets the Donut Hole of Homelessness".

I know most art is political, but come on - this monument's Symbolism for Beginners approach to its political message is ridiculous. Plus, its location smack in the middle of Ottawa City Hall's Veteran's Grove - "planted in honour of Canadian War Veterans from the Ottawa-Carleton Region" - is confusing; so many to honour, so little space I suppose. It is also located in front of a beautiful 19th Century limestone convent building which is now part of City Hall, and the combination is visually jarring (perhaps intentionally so).

Ottawa is a city of beautiful public monuments - this certainly isn't one of them. Fortunately it's tucked away out of sight in an area likely to be seen only by the workers at City Hall who inflicted this thing on the public.

By the way, the City of Ottawa spent $25 000 last winter on a fence & other improvements designed to keep homeless panhandlers from sleeping in the Rideau Street pedestrian underpass across from the swank Chateau Laurier Hotel. Ottawa's "panhandler's union" launched a human rights complaint against the city claiming that their rights to "security of the person" had been violated. This puts a new twist on "anti-poverty activism" at City Hall, doesn't it? Perhaps the homeless would be more welcome on the lawns of City Hall itself - they can camp out near the French Toast of Poverty.


Anonymous said...

Er, that dreadful 'monument' is actually made out of tinted concrete . . . the City of Ottawa can't to anything right!

For a future installment of your review, you might want to trot about two blocks down Elgin Street to the park opposite the Elgin Street Public School. The 'Monument to Women Murdered by Men' is a rare gem, but alas par for course in Ottawa south of Wellington Street. Even better, two blocks further south on Elgin Street, at the main Ottawa Police Station (north side of the buck-ugly building, beside the smoking cabana) is a monumental 'work of art' that beggars belief. I'm at a loss to even describe it and would be curious to see what a pro like you can make of it. If I remember correctly it cost something like $40K back in the early '80s.

Please keep up the good work, Diogenes, your reports are hilarious! =P

Anonymous said...

It looks like something a parasite would love. I'm referring of course to those leeches who are part of the poverty industry. This of course, includes the activists.

God forgive them for having the gall to live off other people's misery.