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The Shadow, UBC’s Newest Art Piece

If you are a student at UBC and you haven’t noticed the giant pixelated blob that has blossomed underfoot just in front of the Nest, we applaud you. Not only have you missed the confusion of construction and the rather divisive final product, you’ve also managed to ignore the massive online arguments that have sprung up surrounding the art piece. If you’re only just now realizing that you’re stomping on a $365,000 piece of artwork, here’s your recap.

The Shadow was proposed in October 2017 by Lithuanian artist Esther Shalev-Gerz, whose pieces include permanent installations, computer-generated art, photography, and more. While her body of work may be impressive, UBC students were, for the most part, not particularly enthused about her latest piece. Many thought it was a giant waste of tuition money (though the funding came from a private donor, as it turns out) and complained about the inconvenience that the actual installation caused. Even once The Shadow was officially unveiled, people found it rather underwhelming. Compare, if you will, the proposal illustration… 

To the final product…

Not exactly awe-inspiring. Plus, considering that this is how it looks from an aerial view, imagine how odd these discoloured patches of tiles look from the ground—which, incidentally, is where mostly people will encounter it. Student opinion became split between those who hated The Shadow with a fervor usually reserved for SFU, and those who still didn’t really like The Shadow but thought that the others were taking things too far. As always, the conflict only served as fuel for the memes spawned on UBC Confessions

So what do you think? Is The Shadow worth it? Not that it matters much now. Whether or not people like it, The Shadow is here to stay. Be grateful that you can at least walk across the plaza again. 



Photo Credits: UBC Confessions, The Vancouver Sun, Twitter @UBC, reddit/r/ubc

Avery is a second-year student at the University of British Columbia, where she is exploring her innumerable and possibly not very practical interests. She hails from the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and has plans to do much more travelling before she gets too tired. If given a choice she would much rather have gone to Hogwarts, but readily admits that UBC is a close second. Her most notable talent is an uncanny ability to quote Hamilton during almost any conversation.
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