Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/8/2012 (3190 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There's a free outdoor party tonight at Millennium Library Park to celebrate the site's two new works of public art, emptyful and Sentinel of Truth.
From 5:30 to 11 p.m., everyone is invited to the newly renovated plaza between Donald and Smith Streets to enjoy live music by John K. Samson and other acts, as well as a short performance by Shakespeare in the Ruins.
There's free food and drinks, a wine garden (admission $5), and at 8:30 p.m. DJ Mama Cutsworth will start spinning music for a dance party. The celebration is jointly put on by the Winnipeg Arts Council (WAC), Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and the library.
Emptyful, a beaker-shaped fountain by Vancouver's Bill Pechet, has already received a lot of attention. But many people haven't yet checked out Sentinel of Truth, a $90,000 steel wall along the southern edge of the plaza, commissioned by WAC from Winnipeg's Darren Stebeleski.
Stebeleski, 39, teaches graphic design at Red River College and is a printmaker. He describes the wall, which is about seven feet high and 160 feet long, as a monument to libraries as protectors of truth and ideas. Libraries are vital to a free, open society because they are sentinels against censorship, he says.
Sentinel of Truth is made of dark-coloured weathering steel, which is intended to take on an orange patina as it rusts. After the colour change, which may take a year or more, the rust will stabilize and protect the structure.
Rectangles of different sizes are cut out of the wall. Eighteen of them contain stainless-steel plates etched with passages from books.
The passages were chosen by Stebeleski, a lifelong library user. Some relate to themes of censorship, totalitarianism and activism. Some of the writers, such as James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, are included partly because their works have been banned.
There will be a plaque installed that credits all the writers, but it's not finished yet. The artist hopes the quotations will inspire visitors to seek out the books. "My intent is to get people into the library," he says.
Depending on the angle of the sun, the text panels can be difficult to decipher. People often have to shift around to find an angle that makes them readable. Stebeleski says that makes the work more interactive and reflects the notion that truth and ideas are fragile.
Often, the text is intentionally cut off, as if it continues behind the wall. "I'd like people to imagine that underneath the weathering-steel armour is a stainless-steel obelisk, with every word ever written engraved on it.... The library protects these things for all of us."
The 18 authors include locals Miriam Toews and Gabrielle Roy, Canadians Margaret Atwood and Naomi Klein, Queen Elizabeth I, Helen Keller (in braille) and Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko.
Stebeleski is aware that some Winnipeggers view public art as a waste of taxpayers' money. He counters that the project used Manitoba materials and contributed to the economy.
There's a misconception that the $90,000 price tag is his payment, he says. In fact, almost every dollar went to construction and installation.
"I will probably pocket about $2,000," he says.