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Spying eyes sculpture highlights ‘Big Brother’ culture

Just in time for the latest revelations about the U.S. National Security Agency, What the Nose Knows is now keeping watch over Castlegar, B.C., from its perch along the city's Sculpturewalk.

In this work, Groucho Marx meets the NSA menace, with giant, convex mirrored lenses inside circular red frames both hiding nosy eyes, and reflecting. "I was trying to make a funny comment on governments and corporations spying on us all the time," says Burnaby-based artist Ron Simmer, who doesn't actually find the issue funny at all. "It's like Big Brother all over again." But this Big Brother, he explains in his artist's statement, is more of an evil clown than a dictator.

Simmer, 71, had initially installed the work on Vancouver's Granville Island, and then at the Peace Arch Park International Sculpture Exhibition at the border crossing.

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With the original four-metre high, 680-kilogram work unveiled last weekend in Castlegar – the Sculpture Capital of Canada – Simmer is making a new version for Lake Oswego, a sculpture-friendly suburb of Portland, Ore., with at least one adjustment. "I'm trying to get a bigger, more sinister-looking nose," he says.

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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