Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Last week the Main Branch of the Vancouver Public Library held a reception in honour of the Broadsiding banner project I did with Geoffrey Farmer. The first banners featured my lyric history of the new library building, from Safdie’s philistinism to a critical epilogue, while the second set borrowed from the writings of Roman emperors, philosophers, poets and businessmen. As much as possible the texts in the second set were selected in relation to their predecessors.

Because Geoffrey and I had hoped to make more of the reception than canap├ęs and dip, we asked University of British Columbia art historian John O’Brian to don a toga and announce the banners from the atrium floor. Like any good orator, he rose to the occassion. Gratias tibi ago, John.

Below are the six banner texts from the first series, followed by their attributed (in this case) responses:

1.

BEFORE ANYTHING
STOOD NOTHING
THE FIRST THOUGHT NOT
THE ROCK BUT A RIPPLE
AND FROM THAT
THE INEVITABLE
SOMETHING

WE HAVE SEEN
THE PROPOSALS
AND OUR DECISION
OVERWHELMS
EVEN US

BEHOLD – AN OMEN!
A HORSESHOE
PULLED FROM THE EARTH
AND HELD ALOFT
LIKE A CHALICE

FROM BROKEN GROUND
A CONVERSATION GREW
HELMUTS AND SUITS
PENCILS AND SCREWS
THE BEATING OF MASS
INTO MATTER

THERE IS ROOM HERE
FOR HUNGER
A KNOWLEDGE OF
SUSTENANCE AND GIFTS

WHEN WHAT IS WANTED
IS NO LONGER
WHAT IS NEEDED
TO KEEP IT
A RUIN

2.

TO BE IGNORANT
OF WHAT OCCURRED
BEFORE YOU WERE BORN
IS TO REMAIN A CHILD
--Marcus Tillius Cicero (106BC-43BC)

A GOOD AND FAITHFUL JUDGE
PREFERS THE HONOURABLE
TO THE EXPEDIENT
--Quintus Horatius Flaccus (65BC-8BC)

DO NOT SEEK
TO BRING THINGS TO PASS
ACCORDING TO YOUR WISHES
BUT WISH FOR THEM
AS THEY ARE
AND YOU WILL FIND THEM
--Epictetus (55AD-135AD)

WE ARE EACH OF US
ANGELS WITH ONLY ONE WING
AND WE CAN ONLY FLY
BY EMBRACING ONE ANOTHER
--Titus Lucretious Carus (99BC-55BC)

THE ART OF LIVING
IS MORE LIKE WRESTLING
THAN DANCING
--Marcus Aurilius (121AD-180AD)

I WOULD RATHER BE ASKED
WHY I HAVE NO STATUE
THAN WHY I HAVE ONE
--Marcus Portius Cato Uticensis (95BC-46BC)

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