Under the big top

If you go to Churchill Square on New Year's Eve, you'll witness the birth of Edmonton's newest festival, METROPOLIS. The ambitious city-within-a-city begins next Saturday and runs over the course of eight weeks, animating Sir Winston Churchill square with six freestanding pavilions featuring a bar, winter food, live performances, interactive exhibits and multimedia artwork.
What you may not realize is the work it took to make it happen. Thousands of hours of planning, research, testing, programming, campaigning and construction went into the production of this innovative new festival.
Visiting the site throughout the building process has brought to mind the immensity of work it takes behind the scenes to put a project like this together. After superstar architects Gene Dub, Giuseppe Albi, Richard Isaac, Bill Chomik created designs for the sculptural pavilions, it was up to the crews to bring those plans to life. Construction trades have been on the square since November 21st, transforming Aluma Systems construction scaffolding and white shrink-wrap into the playful and seemingly weightless shapes floating in the core of the city.
“We normally work in the oil sands, but this is an art project,” says Ryan Balfe of DC38, the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. He and his colleagues Chad Publicover and Shane Wilsen, working in the medium of polyethylene and pipes, were putting the finishing touches on the children's pavilion last week through subzero temperatures and cold winds. Climbing up the complex skeletal framework of scaffolding and juggling blowtorch and polyethylene shrink-wrap, it is very demanding work. But it is pulled off with such high craftsmanship, that you'd never know how much time and creative effort it took to physically build it. V

Chelsea Boos is a multidisciplinary visual artist and flâneur. Back words is a discussion of her dérives  and a photographic diary of the local visual culture.

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