I was riding my bike through a random industrial part of town when I stumbled upon this (click then click to enlarge):
I was understandably puzzled. It turns out that this is a piece of public art by none other than famous Canadian artist Ken Lum, who happens to be the guy who taught the lecture portion of Visual Art 182 when I took it back in 2003. On the first day of class he introduced himself as Ken Lum, explained how he was a practicing artist, and deadpanned, “So if you’ve ever wondered what a real artist looks like, here you go. Sorry to disappoint.” His class was the first place I ever heard about the Gaze.
This piece is called “A Tale of Two Children.” It was commissioned by the city and sponsored by Grosvenor, a huge international property development and investment group. Most accounts claim that the piece references his experiences of growing up in a somewhat ghettoized Chinese-Canadian community; according to Robin Laurence of the Georgia Straight,
[I]t’s not clear what Lum is trying to tell us about language and culture as they affect parenting styles and expectations. There’s a provocative element in much of his work that does not find easy resolution in the mind of the viewer.