Look for a huge, chain-link mosque-like structure to rise in Vanier Park as Vancouver Biennale 2018–2020 launches its latest citywide public-art festival.
With past events, the every-two-years "open-air museum" has brought the city startling landmarks like Yue Minjun's A-Maze-Ing Laughter at English Bay, Ai Wei-Wei's F Grass at Harbour Green Park, and Marcus Bowcott's Trans Am Totem at Quebec Street and Milross Avenue.
Now, with the curatorial theme called re-IMAGE-n, the latest installment opens June 20 with Saudi artist Ajlan Gharem's Paradise Has Many Gates at the park. The cagelike building was first erected in the desert outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 2015, and when it's put in place here, it will be meant as a communal space that welcomes people of all faiths and is free from Islamophobia.
Paradise Has Many Gates will host Weaving Cultural Identities, in which First Nations weavers and graphic artists collaborate with local South Asian, Central Asian, and Middle Eastern Muslim communities, and will host an open Sunset Picnic in the Park on Multicultural Day, June 27.
Elsewhere, in early July, watch for the Biennale to bring to life several projects along the south side of the False Creek seawall. Vancouver-based Maskull Lasserre’s Acoustic Anvil: A Small Weight to Forge the Sea hits Leg In Boot Square, with a three-by-seven-metre monolithic sculpture resembling the forger’s tool, and paying tribute to the almost vanished industrial history of False Creek. Complementing that effort, Leg In Boot Square will host a series of classic black-and-white films of the industrial era in collaboration with the Biennale's film program, CineFest LIVE, throughout the summer.
Nearby, in August, Colombian-American visual artist Jessica Angel, whose work explores the micro-level of computers and its relationship to urbanism, will present her monumental Dogethereum Bridge at Hinge Park in Olympic Village. Inspired by the blockchain technology of computer cryptography, the artwork’s design was created through the integration of scientific algorithms, new developments in technology, and the arts. The installation will be used as a collaborative hub for artists and technologists, hosting a series of activations with blockchain as the inspirational jumping-off point.
During the same month, watch for Montreal-based sculptor Michel de Broin's absurdly humorous Diversions in both Devonian and Charleson Parks. Inspired by this city's avid cycling culture, the artist will create whimsical bike paths by dropping rope on an aerial photograph of the city, transforming areas around the seawall into wildly meandering paths.
The Vancouver Biennale is also making its first foray into unconventional interior spaces with an exhibit of Melbourne artist Patricia Piccinini’s wrinkled, fleshy and freakily lifelike animal-human sculptures at East Hastings Street's century-old Patricia Hotel. Piccinini has been making jaws drop for hundreds of thousands of viewers all over the world, starting with the massive, udder-sporting, turtlelike hot-air balloon, Skywhale, that she floated Canberra for its centenary to a 2016 Sao Paulo exhibit that became that year's biggest contemporary-art show on the planet, drawing 1.4 million viewers.
Curious Imaginings brings her hybrid creatures to the Patricia for a 90-day ticketed exhibit in September, allowing visitors to look her unusual creations straight in the eyes and provoking ideas about bio-technology, genetic engineering, and humankind's ethical limits.