The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 15

The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen.
PHOTO: WILSON HUI
WWW.WILSONHUI.COM

recall its history, culture or mythology. Third, it had to stimulate observers by helping to
create a mood, generate an activity or otherwise amplify the experience of the space.
Public art is a particularly important topic of discussion for modern city dwellers
because, like architecture, it forms part of the everyday urban space that we all occupy.
And, like architecture, but unlike most works of art, we have to engage with it, whether
we want to or not. It can't be - and shouldn't be - avoided or ignored. And even more
important, it gives all of us the opportunity to experience the work of creative artists,
and ready access to this work.
There's another reason that applies to me in particular, but may also apply to you,
sooner or later: a piece of public art may have been installed in your neighbourhood or at
the corner of your street, and you're struggling for ways to understand and appreciate it.
With my three objectives for public art in mind - story, authenticity and experience -
I've selected two public art installations to compare. These two works have striking
and unusual similarities, but equally striking differences.
Both of the works of art deal with mermaid/water nymph myths and are, appropriately, located in or near water. Neither is monumental; they have been constructed,
generally at human scale, out of bronze or bronze-like material, and each of them
attempts to link the story that it represents to its location, thereby engaging users
in the space, even though the use of the space is restricted. One is in Copenhagen,
the other is in Toronto.
By now, you may have guessed that the first piece of art is the Little Mermaid Statue
in Copenhagen Harbour. But you may not have guessed that the second work, featuring
female swimming figures, is part of the Two Old Mill condominium complex in Toronto  -
unless, that is, you live around the corner, as I do. The point of the comparison is to
show that two works of public art that are almost identical in subject, size and material
can be so different in their impact. Keep in mind that one of the works (Copenhagen)
is 105 years old, and the other (Toronto) has barely celebrated its first birthday.
STORY

Since its publication in 1837, the well-known and much loved Hans Christian Andersen
story The Little Mermaid has been widely translated and regenerated many times on
screen and on stage, most notably through Disney Studios (1989, 2000, 2008). It's
possible that anyone under the age of 25 would have trouble recognizing the Copenhagen
statue because of its lack of resemblance to Disney's Ariel.
The Bloor Street statues (three in all) are based loosely on stories that are not familiar
to everyone - the Rhine Maidens from Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Undine, the
mythical water nymph and Ophelia, a character in Hamlet, whose floating corpse is
described as "mermaid-like." In fact, coincidentally, the sculptured figures bear striking
similarities to the Little Mermaid, as depicted in early editions of Andersen's book.
On a cheery note, it might also be noted that all of these stories deal with seanymphs, love, betrayal and death.
The Right Angle | Spring 2018 | 15


http://WWW.WILSONHUI.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018

Message from the Board
Art & Architecture
UX and Architecture
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 5
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - Message from the Board
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - Art & Architecture
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - UX and Architecture
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 19
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - 21
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Spring 2018 - cover4
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https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0119
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0418
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0318
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https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0118
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0417
https://www.nxtbook.com/naylor/BEFQ/BEFQ0317
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com