2016-03-30 Backlane Submission Hapa Collaborative-6Lane Swim (No Lifeguard on Duty) is Hapa’s submission for the 2016 Winnipeg Backlane Public Art Project Competition.

The proposal references how, for millennia, the fortunes of people settled in Winnipeg have risen and fallen with the waters of the Red and Assiniboine. The rivers brought sustenance, transportation, industry and amenity, and also devastating floods. Though the Red River Floodway currently keeps the City of Winnipeg dry, it may not always, as its climate, weather and hydrology will continue to change. Winnipeg, like all living cities, will have to adapt, just as it has in the face of continual social and cultural change. The installation is also a metaphor for life downtown: it highlights the challenges of urban existence, and the fact that some residents must rise above life’s “floods”.

Lane Swim (No Lifeguard On Duty) consists of seven lifeguard chair installations, placed strategically along the study site as wayfinding elements, beacons of light, gathering places and curiosities. They draw people to the laneway and encourage them to linger. Though the chairs and their lifesavers are at 1:1 scale, their stainless steel legs are stretched out of proportion, so that they stand sentry over an imagined future flood level, higher than any the city has seen to date; their legs are painted Red River gumbo-brown up to the level of that imagined flood. The chairs are uplit, and the lifesavers lit from within, so that the installations glow and provide lighting through the laneway after dark. Each chair has an image of the prairie sky as a backdrop, referencing the weather on the open prairie beyond the City’s edifices. Each chair installation has a wooden bench at its base to provide seating for two, for resting, visiting and observing people and laneway events.

2016-03-30 Backlane Submission Hapa Collaborative-72016-03-30 Backlane Submission Hapa Collaborative-8