Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on a map

Enthralled by art? Careful not to fall in

A 26-year-old Canadian man has been charged with one count of mischief after falling into the Talus Dome, a monumental public sculpture in Edmonton, Canada. Rescue teams spent an hour and a half trying to free the man from the sculpture.

The Talus Dome was constructed in 2011 and is comprised of nearly 1,000 handmade stainless-steel spheres. It was designed by Ball-Nogues, a California-based studio who specialise in the unorthodox use of materials to create works which blur the boundaries between art, architecture, and industrial design. The Talus Dome reflects on the natural environment. It sits near to the Quesnell Bridge, and according to the City of Edmonton’s website, “before the Quesnell Bridge was constructed, talus forms of earth occurred naturally along the river valley. The artwork reminds us of the landscape that has been altered by the bridge, a rigid, controlled construction that meets our need to traverse the obstacle of the river. It refers to the coexistence of the man-made and the natural.”

On the evening of Easter Sunday, a man attempted to climb the structure and ultimately became trapped. Troy Brady, Edmonton Fire Rescue Services district chief, said that the rescue team needed a saw and the hydraulic rescue tool known as the “jaws of life” in order to cut through the steel structure. He told CTV “it’s definitely a first for me” and that “it’s definitely different than what we would typically use it [the jaws of life] for.”

Onlookers evidently found the entire situation bizarre. One witness wrote on social media “out for a run, saw a dude stuck in the Talus Balls. Like, WHAT!?” Another pair of spectators were taking a selfie with a sculpture in the background and noticed the man on the precipice of falling. A police spokesperson said that “further investigation by police revealed that the male caused damage to several of the balls while climbing on the top of the structure.”

This is not the first time onlookers have felt the need to climb public art. In 2020, Plymouth City Council released a caution to the public regarding LOOK II, a sculpture created by Antony Gormley which is 12 feet tall and made of 22 cast iron blocks. After a video emerged of a child climbing the statue while his parents looked on, the council said, “we have a very simple message here – and that’s don’t do it. Don’t climb the sculpture. And parents, don’t let your children climb it. Look II is not a piece of play equipment, it is a sculpture.” They warned that a full risk assessment had been carried out, and that possible risks included falling into the sea and risking serious injury.

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