Flight of the Medici Mamluk
By Shannon Bool
Shannon Bool is an artist who typically references a wide variety of historical and monumental objects in her work, commenting on the role of decorative arts within art history, as well as on the change in meaning that occurs through the replication and alteration of significant cultural forms.
For the Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line Station, Bool has worked with a photographer to document the 16th Century Egyptian Medici Mamluk ccarpet, recently rediscovered stored in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy. Mamluk style carpets figured significantly in Mediterranean commerce, appearing in Venetian paintings of this time, and are characterized by a central medallion surrounded by a variety of smaller geometric motifs forming a kaleidoscopic appearance. In many such carpets the vast and complex patterns suggest notions of eternity and evoke cosmic associations with Buddhist thought.
Unusual due to its gigantic size and pristine condition, Bool has painstakingly pieced together individual images to reproduce the whole carpet at exact scale across the glass façade of the building. Suspended in the everyday space of the Station and tilted as if afloat, the work shows some of the mathematical and geometrical sensibilities that are seldom acknowledged but directly influenced renaissance thought. Amazing in its detail and intricacy, literally and metaphorically the image records both the patterns and passages of time, in much the same way as the busy station is itself an embodiment of a space of people passing through.
Presented by the Contemporary Art Gallery in partnership with the Canada Line Public Art Program.