The Norfolk Street Footbridge is a nondescript pedestrian bridge built in 1966 that is easily overlooked. The structure is typical of late Modernist architecture – utilitarian with no decorative elements. The steel span is painted dark green, a typical colour used to paint urban structures, in an attempt to camouflage the bridge into the ‘natural’ environment. It allows pedestrians to cross Norfolk but connects two unassuming places–the corner of a municipal parking lot with a quiet residential street–so it is seldom used. These banal attributes are the inspiration for the temporary installation Suspension Bridge.
A sculpture made from balloons mimics the structure of a suspension bridge. Although balloons are normally used to draw attention because of their bright colours, these ones blend in with the bridge in this situation. The result is a clash between ‘cultural dynamics and the everyday’, a metaphor for a community’s desire to promote the arts solely to draw tourists and stimulate the economy. The content is not as important as the perceived results.
The installation will be highly visible to the many vehicles that pass under the bridge each day, as well as to pedestrians entering or leaving the downtown area. Overall, Suspension Bridge makes a subtle comment on the nature of celebration, municipal festivities, and heritage preservation.
Suspension Bridge is an artistic project by Scott McGovern inspired by the Guelph-Wellington Rural-Urban Program, a research initiative by Musagetes and Cohabitation Strategies. The installation will take place for one day, November 10, 2012 on the Norfolk St. Footbridge at Norfolk St. and Macdonell St.