columnConsidering that you can’t walk through Sproul without being bombarded by the circus which has set up an almost permanent camp there, a lot of us manage to overlook a pretty grand piece of artwork: a 60, 000 foot tall sculpture.

To be fair, it is sort of invisible. Built as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Free Speech Movement, “The Column of Earth and Air” is a six-inch circle which proclaims complete freedom from any entity.

The artist, Mark Brest van Kempen, entered his design into a competition started by the Berkeley Art Project in 1989. The group, knowing that the university didn’t really want something commemorating the Free Speech Movement, organized the contest outside of the university.

Once the winner was chosen and the gift to be given, the university couldn’t exactly reject it. So, they graciously allowed the Berkeley Art Project to give them free artwork with one tiny condition: the Free Speech Movement not be mentioned anywhere in the press release.

And so, with a beautiful irony, the university imbued the sculpture with so much more meaning than it would have possessed.

Image Source: zenra under Creative Commons
99% invisible: Berkeley’s invisible monument to free speech [SF Gate]