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Beijing winter olympics 2022 public art

In the Fall of 2020, I was invited to submit a proposal for a public art solution for the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. I received an email from my friend, Shangxi Zhu asking if I would be interested and after my affirmative reply, I received an invitation from the Olympic Public Art Committee to submit.

Each artist was allowed to submit up to two proposals for a wide variety of locations throughout the Olympic grounds, but as I received my invitation only a month before the October 31, 2020 deadline, I was only able to get one proposal ready. The Committee outlined several

I reviewed the possible locations and was inspired by the architectural shape of “The Ice Ribbon” National Speed Skating Stadium, which is actually the refurbished velodrome from the Summer Olympics 2008.

This was my proposal for a sculpture called “Elliptical Velocity” that I created in virtual space using ZBrush:

“I am proposing a major sculpture artwork for the site, ‘The Ice Ribbon’, the National Speed Skating Oval.

I have taken inspiration from the elegant architecture of the building, with its curving, swooping roof lines and glass exterior. I’ve imagined what a sculptural solution would look like and I propose to create the image of two strong speed skaters, a male and female competitor that are joined by a swirling ribbon. The figures will be three times life size and positioned so that viewers can walk beneath the ribbon and view the figures from every angle, as well as look up through the negative space to the sky framed in the curves. The sculpture will be cast from metal – either bronze, stainless or corten steel.

I wish to create an artwork that has an abundance of movement, even for a static sculpture, and will act as a meeting place for spectators. I wish to create an artwork that is interactive, that entices the viewer to not only look at, but to touch, to walk around and underneath. Imagine standing under the centre of the ribbon and looking up to see the cold winter sky framed in ellipses… Imagine standing before each athlete’s image and feeling the power of years of practice, the scrape of the steel skate blade on the ice… I want the sculpture to encourage spectators to participate in the space and not simply to walk through the plaza.

The ribbon will appear to be flowing out the back of each skater, from their hands to their skates. It will swirl in a spiral and in profile, will echo the architecture of the building. The choice of the genders of the skaters represents the inclusiveness of the Olympic Spirit and the composition is open, simple and clean. Visitors will easily imagine the real athletes competing on the ribbon of pure ice.

My submitted images are only sketches, and if I am successful in being selected, I will work up much more detailed drawings for the Olympic Committee. I look forward to working in collaboration with the landscape architects, engineers and art consultants to solve the issues of siting the sculpture properly.

It is important to me to see the City of Beijing is showing strong environmental consciousness and wisdom by re-purposing the buildings of the wonderful 2008 Summer Olympic Games, cleverly re-naming them to reflect their new uses.”

The successful proposals will not be created by the author artists, but they will send models to China where the artworks will be made. For this reason, I proposed my idea to be made in metal.

Unfortunately, my proposal was rejected, but I am honoured to have been invited to compete. And my idea resembles the shortlisted “Ice Force” proposal for Celebration Square.

The Olympic Committee has shortlisted 10 finalists, two for each location. The artists’ names are not revealed, so I don’t know if any of the shortlisted proposals are by artists I know. The Committee is now asking for the public’s opinion on which of each two is best loved. You can see the shortlist of artworks here, and can cast your own vote.

How do you feel my proposal stacked up to the ones that were shortlisted? Leave your comments in the section below.