The artists behind Calgary's much maligned Travelling Light public art sculpture are surprised by all the negative attention and harsh reaction to the piece.
The giant blue hoop, which some have likened to a female birth control device, went up earlier this week in the northeast on the 96th Avenue Bridge near Deerfoot Trail – and was immediately panned by almost everyone, including Calgary's public art-loving mayor.
“I don’t like it. I think it’s awful. I understand that it’s a work of engineering feat to balance it on its edge like that. I think it’s terrible,” Naheed Nenshi said earlier this week.
But Axel Lieber, a Swedish artist who works for Ignes Indee, the group that designed the art piece, told the Calgary Herald the wrath is something new to the firm.
“We have been working on public art projects for over 20 years in many different locations all over the globe and are used to controversial receptions when a new work is installed. Nevertheless, the intensity of the media and public reaction in this instance is new to us.”
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In a statement released to CBC's Calgary Eyeopener on Friday, the group defended the piece and the fact it was designed internationally.
"A kind of irritation seems even to derive from us being an artist group from abroad," reads the statement.
"We would like to point out that over 80 per cent of the overall project budget for this project stayed in Calgary, as the fabricators are a local company based in the City of Calgary."
Calgary's public art program superintendent Rachael Seupersad said earlier this week the sculpture "essentially represents the universal mode of transportation ... the wheel.
"The artists really looked at the environment and the surrounding area ... it really is a place where all modes of transportation and movement come together and that is sort of captured and symbolized within this piece."