Calgary mayor weighs in on public art debate
Published Saturday, August 12, 2017 2:53PM EDT
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has weighed in on an ongoing debate about a controversial piece of public art.
On August 3, the city unveiled a sculpture by New York-based artist Del Geist. The $500,000 piece, dubbed “Bowfort Towers,” quickly garnered criticism from First Nations groups for closely resembling the burial scaffolds used by the Blackfoot people.
On Friday, Nenshi said that the backlash shows that there are problems with how the city procures public art. Currently, all public art in Calgary is chosen by a panel of seven, six of whom are civilian volunteers. Nenshi said that the in the future, the process should include more public consultation.
Nenshi, however, said the criticism has been “unfair” and likened the response to a “lynch mob.” He also said that the sculpture was thoroughly vetted by Aboriginal experts.
“There was not just a traditional knowledge keeper, but a particularly skilled knowledge keeper whose expertise is in Blackfoot archaeology and symbolism who had been consulted on this particular project,” Nenshi, who said he hadn’t seen the sculpture, said. “So, again, the city followed the Indigenous policy consultation to a ‘T’.”
With files from CTV Calgary