Nature and cars collide in a Vancouver art installation

"Trans Am Totem" by Vancouver artist Marcus Bowcott.

“Trans Am Totem” by Vancouver artist Marcus Bowcott.

The Vancouver Biennale latest public art installation “Trans Am Totem”, by Vancouver artist Marcus Bowcott, is a 10-metre high, 11,340-kilogram sculpture, located at Quebec Street and Milross Avenue.

The sculpture is composed of five real scrap cars stacked upon an old growth cedar tree. The artwork considers a consumer culture that reflects an “out with the old, in with the new” mentality.

“With Vancouver’s Greenest City initiative, investment in cycling lanes and even the transportation referendum, Trans Am Totem is a timely and important catalyst to discussion about our identity as a city,” said Barrie Mowatt, president and artistic director of the Vancouver Biennale. “The artwork asks us to consider where we come from, where we are now and where we want to be.”

By stacking smashed automobiles and levitating them high above the roadway, Bowcott’s sculpture serves to remind us of the ultimate responsibilities we bear to our planet and future generations.

“The automobile holds a unique position in our culture”, said Bowcott. “It’s a manufactured want and symbol of extremes; practicality and luxury, necessity and waste. We can see this in the muscular Trans Am, the comfortable BMW, and the workhorse Civic. Trans Am Totem also questions the cycle of production and consumption.”

Vancouver artist Marcus Bowcott's "Trans Am Totem" is located at Quebec Street & Milross Avenue in Vancouver.

Vancouver artist Marcus Bowcott’s “Trans Am Totem” is located at Quebec Street & Milross Avenue in Vancouver.

Before the introduction of heavy industry, the site where the sculpture is located was a shoreline of tidal flats and massive forest with old growth cedars and Douglas Firs in the vicinity of Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

Later, False Creek became an industrial zone of sawmills, beehive burners and ringed with ever increasing collections of log booms. Just before Expo ’86 the mills were removed and the area transformed. Now the area is a constant flow of transportation and interconnections, residential tower blocks, commercial business and entertainment centers encircled by cyclists, light rail and most dominant of all—cars.

For more information on Vancouver Biennale and Marcus Bowcott’s Trans Am Totem sculpture, visit

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