(b. Vancouver 1956)
Monument for East Vancouver
Concrete, steel, aluminum, impact modified acrylic, LED illumination
Purchased in 2010
Collection of the City of Vancouver
© Ken Lum. Photo: courtesy of the artist and Lothar Albrecht Galerie, Frankfurt
Monument for East Vancouver is a graffiti-inspired public artwork symbolizing the marginality of the “East Van” neighbourhood and the defiance of its residents. The words “East” and “Van” intersect as in a crossword puzzle and are outlined in the shape of a cross. Standing on a ridge and illuminated at night, the sculpture is visible for kilometres and seems to float in space. Monument for East Vancouver consecrates the iconic symbol and highlights the issues of division, poverty and acculturation that persist in the area. East Vancouver, specifically Downtown Eastside, is one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Canada.
Ken Lum is an artist of Chinese heritage who explores issues of race and class. Using a variety of strategies, he addresses social problems and the place of immigrants in society by recalling traumatic events from Canada’s colonial past. His works, many of which are installed in public areas of the urban landscape, draw on popular culture, often combining text and consumer goods. Lum, who grew up in the East Van neighbourhood, produced Monument for East Vancouver in 2010 as a commission for the City of Vancouver.