Nils Norman is an artist who has long been concerned with issues of liveable cities, urban planning and the role of public art. His work addresses public space and the architecture and physical infrastructures (the benches, pathways, playgrounds, and landscapes) that define its geography and use. With VANCOUVER VERNACULAR (2015), Norman turns his eye to a new form that is increasingly decorating and delineating the streets and walls of our cities: that of the towering, highly-designed condo billboard. The words Norman chooses are taken directly from the hyperbolic and aspirational language of local real estate projects. Isolated and amplified on the exterior of the Western Front’s building, the work points to the failures of an urban planning process in which cities are no longer designed, but marketed. And with the words SOLD OUT emblazoned across the the Western Front’s iconic building, Norman’s work can also be read as a poetic indictment that brings the institution’s own role in this urban transformation into sharper focus.
- Nils Norman, Proposal for Western Front, June 2015. Image courtesy of the artist.
- Nils Norman, VANCOUVER VERNACULAR, billboards, 2015. Photo by Ben Wilson.