Trans Am Totem, Vancouver, B.C. Canada. Photo by Robert G. Earnest

Vancouver Biennale: Open Borders / Crossroads Vancouver

Trans Am Totem is a meditation on contemporary technological culture in relation to Vancouver and it’s history. The sculpture is comprised of 5 discarded automobiles placed on top of a 20’ high old growth cedar tree. Each car – ‘extension of our bodies’ – projects it’s own, unique aesthetic. In aggregate, they refer to our dominant consumer culture. The ubiquitous presence of cars in our midst has fundamentally re-shaped our landscape.

The sculpture occupies a traffic median in a busy urban inter-section at Quebec Street and Pacific Boulevard. The materials and objects that make up Trans Am Totem refer to the history of the place. 150 years ago the site – known today as False Creek – was shoreline, tidal flats and pristine old growth forest. It was in proximity to the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Watuth Nations. The entrance of False Creek, was the Squamish village Snauk. False Creek later became Vancouver’s first industrial zone – a collection of sawmills and beehive burners that were ringed by an ever-changing collection of log booms full of old growth Douglas Firs. Over the years the mills got bigger, the logs got smaller and the second growth timber replaced the old growth. During the 1980’s the mills were removed and the area was gradually transformed into its present incarnation of stadiums, high rise towers, transit corridors and pedestrian sidewalks. Trans Am Totem reflects upon this site and its history through references to old growth forest, logging and stacked, manufactured structures.

Community Response

CBC: As It Happens – interview starts at 34:40.

Lonely Planet: Vancouver’s Trans Am Totem art installation may soon need a new parking spot