Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Officials give river art icy reception

Jordan Jackle
The StarPhoenix

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The fire department's water rescue team spent Friday morning retrieving wooden chairs from a frozen portion of the river in the River Landing area.After finding out about the chairs from concerned Saskatoon residents, surface divers used a boat and a rope to crawl onto the ice and remove them.

"We found out they were placed there by the Mendel (Art Gallery). It was form of art," said assistant fire Chief Bob Fawcett.

It wasn't done by the Mendel Art Gallery, said spokesperson Betsy Rosenwald, but rather an artist with an installation at the gallery. Local artist Michael Hosaluk has an exhibition titled Containment that involves many chairs, she said.

"He and some of his cohorts undertook what they call "chairorrist actions" and placed, as part of the exhibition, chairs around Saskatoon," Rosenwald said. "He does consider it part of his exhibition, but we did not authorize the placement of chairs on the river."

The act of "chairorrism" was actually executed by Hosaluk's friend and fellow artist, Doug Taylor, whose phallic snow sculpture made headlines this week. Taylor canoed to the spot and placed four of Hosaluk's chairs where crews later picked them up. He was not surprised the chairs were removed.

"Anyone just has to suggest a danger and they'll spring into action. It's typical, but absolutely unnecessary. It wasn't meant as a lure to get people out there," he said.
Hosaluk said part of the reason for the outdoor display was to draw attention to the lack of space at the Mendel. This was one way to focus on that deficit and the importance of the arts in the community, he said.

"We've had some incidents in the past and we just felt it was sending the wrong message by placing those chairs out there, whether they're an art display or not," said Fawcett.
Expressing her own personal opinion, Rosenwald said she is not sure why the act would be looked upon negatively.

"It's the artist's own extension of his exhibition. It's a creative use of space," she said.
Even if someone were to walk near the chairs, they wouldn't have went through the ice, said Taylor, noting the ice was 10 centimetres thick.

Fawcett said although it was relatively solid in that area, ice is dangerous at this time of year.
"Our advice to all citizens is stay away from the river and stay off the ice," he said.


© The StarPhoenix (Saskatoon) 2007