Friday, August 6, 2010

Culture: The Humber Inuksuit

Those walking along the Humber River north of the Old Mill have been treated to this impromptu art display in the river, seen 6-August-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Sometimes the best public art is not commissioned, but is a spontaneous act of an individual or group who sees an opportunity to improve the appearance of something and just goes for it. Some consider this vandalism, but on rare occasions the result is so amazing that a clear consensus emerges that not only is it art, but it should be preserved in its own right.

These inuksuit in the middle of the Humber River seen on 6-August-2010 were the work of local resident Peter Riedel

Such is the case with a group of 39 rock sculptures (a reporter counted; I didn't) in the middle of the Humber River that suddenly appeared earlier this week, just a short walk from my residence. Some resemble native inuksuit, other resemble animals. At first, some people thought they had gone up overnight on Sunday night (as reported in the initial Toronto Star article), and there was all kinds of wild speculation about how many people it would take to erect them and even whether glue had been used. After it appeared in the newspaper, the actual story came out.

This sculpture resembled a seal in the middle of the Humber River north of the Old Mill on 6-August-2010

As reported in the Toronto Star, photographer Peter Riedel actually made the sculptures in about four hours on Sunday afternoon, and he had an audience. He's made rock sculptures before, using them as a chance to document them photographically before they naturally degrade from the elements.

The artist's favourite of this set of work--resembling the egrets common in this stretch of the Humber River--was observed on 6-August-2010

Yet, there seems to be a large number of people that don't want to see this set of sculptures disappear. Rather than being victims of vandals, these sculptures are substantially maintaining their form. When I visited today, five days after their construction, I could find only one that was clearly no longer in intended form. Nature will take its course, but it's not being helped along.

Peter Riedel has given us a fine example of the best of impromptu art.

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