The artist behind this Penticton nosey sculpture wants you to question corporations | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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The artist behind this Penticton nosey sculpture wants you to question corporations

This sculpture, titled What Does the Nose Know?, can be found in downtown Penticton until the end of April 2023.

The artist behind a silly-looking public art installation in Penticton says the meaning behind it is extremely important.

For anybody walking past City Hall in downtown Penticton, it’s hard to miss the sculpture of a giant nose and sunglasses. It’s called What Does the Nose Know? and was created by Burnaby artist Ron Simmer in 2015.

He’s bothered by how personal data is mined through information shared to social media and used to influence elections and manipulate consumers. So he created the giant nose and sunglass sculpture as a symbol of how corporations advance their interests by spying on the masses.

“Using peoples' personal data has become a science,” Simmer said. “It’s become so pervasive and comprehensive.”

Some public art installations that have generated backlash in the Okanagan include Frank the Baggage Handler by artist Michael Hermesch in Penticton, and the mural project in Vernon.

READ MORE: Climate protesters throw soup on Van Gogh's 'Sunflowers'

So if public art is going to carry a deep meaning, some messages need to slip under some peoples’ noses.

When a local woman shared a photo of the Nose earlier this week to the Penticton Facebook page, a vibrant discussion flared up.

“I think it’s unique and funny and fantastic and I love all art,” Christina Edmunds, the woman who started the discussion, told INFOnews.

Most of the responses were light hearted. Many people expressed their appreciation for the message behind the sculpture, while others were being funny by wondering where the moustache is, and making jokes about Mr. Potato Head and cocaine.

However some commenters seem bothered that it was funded by the city.

What Does the Nose Know?
What Does the Nose Know?

“There’s always the usual trolls who come out and hate it – ‘the kids could have done better, it cost too much money, yada yada,’” Simmer said.

Before the big nose was picked by the city to be in this year’s sculpture exhibit, it spent some time in Victoria.

“Funny thing happened there, some people didn’t like it,” he said.

However, after the sculpture was mistreated by a group of youngsters, Simmer noticed the public began to appreciate it more.

READ MORE: If people didn't like 'scary' art they would have shown up for consultation: Vernon councillor

It would later travel to Palm Springs, California, where the mayor of that city gave it a ceremonial goodbye at the end of its stay.

“About 40 people turned up and said goodbye to the nose – they all sneezed and blew their noses and made nose jokes,” Simmer said.

Simmer is grateful for communities like Penticton and Castlegar for hosting public art exhibits. He said larger centres, such as the cities within the Lower Mainland, are not as supportive of public art – largely due to liability concerns.

“In bigger cities you have to crawl over broken glass to exhibit something… they’re worried about someone climbing up it, falling off and suing you,” he said.

Many of the clients who purchase public sculptures are private developers. In order to avoid controversies, Simmer said most developers are looking for basic concepts.

“They just want something cool outside their building.”

What Does the Nose Know? will remain on display in Penticton until the end of April 2023. It can be found between City Hall and Gyro Park.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Dan Walton or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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