Tuesday, October 08, 2013

River Shift

Here are a few photos of River Shift, the public art installation at the south end of Waterfront Park, near the Marquam Bridge. The RACC page about it includes an extended artist's statement:
The idea for this piece had its source in the rough concrete piers and reinforcements that were being excavated from the old waterfront site when I first saw it. I made a progression using local basalt stone and the existing wrecked concrete.

At the top of the berm there is a grouping of saw-cut vertical basalt, and some irregular, displaced foundations. As the basalt pieces progress from berm to river, they tip over, so that the concrete below becomes exposed and the basalt becomes submerged and eventually disappears.

At the river path there are various configurations of concrete and stone, including inlays and pieces that can function as seating. Concrete is cut in various places to expose the river rock aggregate inside as well as the old embedded wood piers, and some heavy steel reinforcement emerges in various plant-like and root-like ways.

The work is meant to be a quiet narrative that is derived and retained from the site, rather than a thing that was brought in.

The artist's website has a photoset about River Shift, including a few shots looking down on the area from an adjacent building, which gives a better idea of how the various parts of the piece are laid out.

The idea of turning construction debris into art isn't a new one. You could probably travel the world and put together a big coffee table book of other examples from all over, and maybe write a thesis about the genre and what it all means. This does make me feel kind of bad for construction workers: They tear down a building, filling dump truck after dump truck with broken concrete and twisted rebar, having no clue about all the expensive capital-A art they've just created. They could probably all retire after the first couple of buildings and live off the proceeds, if only they knew. It's a real shame. In any case, River Shift is a well-executed example of the genre, and paths down to the river are obviously a popular feature since river-level access near downtown is pretty rare. People actually fish there, and when the weather's nice a few people will even try to lie on the sorta-beach and work on their sorta-tans. Californians, probably.

1 comment :

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