Kalum Teke Dan’s “Sunset Song” walled up by construction
It was an incredibly bad decision and even worse timing. Canada had just celebrated its first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a new national holiday highlighting the struggles Indigenous people have faced in Canada and the efforts of non-Indigenous citizens to become better allies. But in Calgary, Alberta, just after the day was over, an iconic mural by Indigenous artist Kalum Teke Dan was walled up by a construction project.
Originally from southern Alberta, Kalum Teke Dan has been an artist active in Alberta for over two decades. Specializing in portraits and murals, Dan has a deep connection to his Blood Tribe roots, which can be seen represented in the subjects of his works. Both his palettes and linework are very striking, their precision and dynamism reminiscent of Lichtenstein’s pop-art framing but brimming with Dan’s unique cultural identity.
The part in question is Sunset song, depicting an indigenous man in ceremonial costume in the middle of a song in front of a fluid landscape of mountains, water and the setting sun. Apparently the artist’s favorite piece, it’s no wonder last week’s bad news hit so hard. Sunset song was half covered in gray bricks last week by a new development project, without any consultation with the artist or the owner of the adjacent building that houses the mural.
While there is nothing that legally prohibits a construction project from covering the adjacent walls and the artwork on display there, the images seem to imply that they chose to wall the mural before any other. thing ; this makes it difficult to give the impression that it is not a targeted choice. But for now, there is a stop-work notice on the project as the city investigates the situation.
Beltline Urban Murals Project, which originally commissioned the piece, spoke to Kalum Teke Dan about recreating Sunset song Next year. But it is understandably disheartening to see his work and his culture so abused. While murals may have an inherent temperance, they create a lasting impact on the communities that rub shoulders with them every day, as does the endless march of construction that sweeps away these works of art.