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Travelling Light - Public Artwork

Title: Travelling Light
Artist: inges idee
Site: 96 Avenue NE (Near Airport Tr. and Deerfoot Tr. interchange)

Travelling Light by inges idee
© inges idee


Travelling Light is a bold and innovative artwork, intended to capture the dynamics of Calgary on the move and create a lasting impression for all who experience it. This 17 metre sculptural ring is integrated into the row of existing street lamps and allows a portal into the landscape and the environs. Seen from a distance, it forms a huge window framing the expanses of the landscape, and gives the 96th Ave NE interchange a clear and unmistakable identity – both from far away and up close.

This site is a complex intersection catering to a wide variety of users, all converging with different perspectives and rates of motion. In order to provide visual interest to all viewers, as well as create a distinct identity for the bridge, the artists designed a simple, clear, monumental sculptural form that is set apart from the bridge and landscape by its colour.
In the shape of a ring, the sculpture represents the most iconic symbol of movement, the wheel. The arches of the street lamps rise from the apex, clearly and unequivocally anchoring the sculpture, while at the same time evoking the notion of constant movement. This dual meaning is reflective of the character of a bridge - a fixed, connecting location that serves movement and travel. Viewers may interpret the arches of the lamps as the handlebars of a high wheeler, the silhouette of a bird about to take flight or perhaps even a butterfly’s antennae. The radiant colour makes reference to the sky, which is always in the background, and contrasts with the bridge’s other functional elements. 

The Project

Fabrication and installation of Travelling Light was completed entirely by local companies. The project supported the primary fabricator, as well as subcontractors like the steel bending company, electricians, project managers, engineers, and even crane operators. 

Travelling Light is an engineering feat in that the structure is free-standing, with no guide cables or secondary support structures. The custom rolled pipe was specifically sourced for its strength and durability, while the industrial-grade coating system will provide impressive longevity. The simplicity of the design meant there was no room for error or misalignment – it had to be perfect.
The artist was chosen through The City’s standard process of an open international call. That means that any interested artist is welcome to apply. 55 submissions were received for this project, with three being from Calgary, 19 from Canada, and 36 from elsewhere in the world. This concept was chosen by a project-specific of jury of five Calgarians (three art and/or design professionals, a community representative and one City representative).
The concept was released to the public in May 2013 when we invited Calgarians to come to an open session at the Central Library to learn about our upcoming projects and discuss them with Program staff.  

Travelling Light by inges idee

The Artists

The name inges idee stands for an artistic strategy and praxis in which ideas and concepts are primary tools. inges idee consists of four people - Hans Hemmert, Axel Lieber, Thomas A. Schmidt and Georg Zey - and as a collective they rely on collaboration and their unique team dynamic to support a creative process through which new and challenging solutions for sites are found. 

inges idee typically create site-specific and custom-made solutions for the public realm. Their primary approach is sculpture that, when placed in an urban or landscape context, activates a site, gives it new identity, and enriches it. The strategies, materials, and themes used are diverse and varied, and are specifically designed to fit the content, use and surroundings of the respective site. Their work is designed with a long life span, and reaches from smaller sculptural interventions to works of monumental scale.
Based out of Berlin, this team has worked on over 200 projects, competitions and commissions since 1992, with more than 50 projects realized as permanent artworks in international locations including Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan.  
Public Art Budget:  $471K
Commissioning Unit: Department of Transportation
Capital Project: 96 Avenue NE Extension and Interchange Upgrade Project 
Project Completion: December 2013