Public Artwork

Civil Fugue

Ellen Moffat, Civil Fugue, 2004
Future Cities, 71 Main St. West, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Artwork creator(s): 
Moffat, Ellen
Text author(s): 
Moffat, Ellen
Installation year: 
Remarks on location: 

Various downtown locations.

  • City Hall, 71 Main St. West (in the open square)
  • Corner of James St. North and King St. East (NW corner outside Jackson Square) 
  • Corner of James St. North and King William St. (NE corner outside of the Lister Block) near Farmer's Market on York Blvd. (South side, just West of McNab Street) 
  • 55 Bay St. North, outside new Federal office building across from the Copps Coliseum 
  • 50 Main St. East (at Hughson), outside McMaster University Downtown Centre

Twelve metal panels with photographs and text mounted on bicycle racks

Text of the artwork: 

“(How) can we sustain

global economies,

local ecologies,

new technologies,

sacred histories?”


“suburban sprawl…or

downtown rejuvenation.”


“Until they pave it,

it’s not over.”


"Another expressway…

 another river valley."


“What is the cost?”


Whose voice is public?

Text theme: 
Public space and urban development (interviews with officials, executives and community leaders)
Artwork theme: 
Future of public space in Hamilton, local community, idealism of urban space
Future Cities, downtown, Hamilton, 2004. Organized by the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Chief Commissioner: Shirley Madill.
Event date(s): 

• The text, collected through conversations with diverse participants in the city, posits a sampling of attitudes about the future public space in Hamilton. Local voices intervene in the public sphere.


• "The project for Future Cities is an extension of my ongoing work about art and the everyday. It will engage with the dialogue about the public space in the ideal urban area, and provide a platform for participation, interaction and education. The project endorses the localization of voice, the collective voice and reflects the community back to itself in a way that encourages the possibility of social change…" Moffat conducted interviews in February with various city officials, business executives and leaders in the community. With the objective of pulling select quotes that, once combined, would create a "positive sentence" for the future of Hamilton, she transposed the text onto the advertisement sections of select bike racks in the downtown core of Hamilton. The final product resembles a live feed of public figures' questions, grounded in the text of the city itself.


Portfolio. Civil Fugue

Moffat, Ellen (2004).  Portfolio. Civil Fugue. <> : Ellen Moffat webpage

Future Cities. Locations

ArtGallery_of_Hamilton, McMaster_University (2008).  Future Cities. Locations. <> : Future Cities and Virtual Cities Project