Painting the world’s lungs blue

0 Posted by - April 7, 2011 - Blog, Installations, Visual art

Bright blue trees in Port Moody, West Vancouver, and Richmond have been making some passersby stop in their tracks.

The Blue Trees, a recent work by international artist Konstantin Dimopoulos is part of a larger discussion on forests worldwide. The inspiration? Each year, an area at least the size of Belgium of native forests is cleared from around the planet. While we increasingly live in urban areas and are not directly faced with the implications of the loss, Kon wants us to remember that trees are the lungs of the planet and we must treat them with respect.

Kon was brought into town by the Vancouver Biennale, an organization that celebrates art in public spaces and which has a mandate to mount a major biannual outdoor art exhibition featuring world-class international sculptures. Kon explains the premise of the blue trees in this way:

“Colour is a powerful stimulant, a means of altering perception and defining space and time. The fact that blue is a colour that is not naturally identified with trees suggests to the viewer that something unusual, something out of the ordinary has happened. It becomes a magical transformation.”

Kon’s project in the Vancouver area spans three cities; Port Moody (at the Civic Centre), West Vancouver, and Richmond (Brighouse Station). With working beginning on March 17, Kon and a team of volunteers painted trees with a biologically safe pigmented water. The colour will naturally degrade and trees will gradually revert to their natural state, and to prove the safety of the water Kon was seen at times demonstrating that he could eat the pigment.

“The blue trees are about ideas, and how ideas can change people’s perceptions of their environment and how they see it,” explained Kon in an interview with Fanny Keifer on The Express on Shaw TV in Vancouver. “There’s an imbalance here. We have urban communities and urban forests. And people are very passionate about their trees, and yet there is this old forest … which is just out of sight, and so it’s slowly… trees don’t make a noise when they die, they just disappear. And I said to people, if it was what we see and images of places like Japan at the moment, where the catastrophe is right in front of our faces, we say what can we do, how can we help? But the thing with the forests is they disappear slowly, and in that slowness we don’t realize how much those trees determine if we’re going to be here. They are the lungs of the planet.”

Kon will be giving a talk at City of Richmond, City Council Chambers (6911 no. 3 road) at 7pm tonight.

Photos by Kate Barron, Vancouver Biennale

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