Sunday, April 25, 2010
When I look at Jeff Wall's Mimic (1982), I can’t help but be embarrassed. Here we have a sophisticated Asian gentlemen minding his own business, when this white guy comes along and simultaneously gives him the finger and makes fun of his race. It seems he is walking just far enough behind the Asian gentleman so that he doesn’t actually have to confront him, and instead is able to mock him passively without risking a rebuttal. The white gentleman appears to be dragging his girlfriend along behind him in a way that suggests her subordinate role. The woman is dressed in skimpy shorts, a skimpy top, and heels. Everything about the photo makes the viewer side with the Asian man. He has the appearance of a respectable person who is a member of the business community. I think the purpose of Wall’s piece is to elicit this type of reaction, to embarrass us and compel us to side with the Asian man. The topic of racism and the Asian community is very Vancouver. As sad as it is to say, especially during the eighties, the increasing Asian population would have festered attitudes of racism. This picture exposes a racism that appears to have stemmed out of both jealousy and misdirected hatred. This photo has the effect of revealing racism as trashy and uncalled for. Although Wall’s Mimic doesn’t exactly shine Vancouver in the most positive light, it has the ability to create awareness about racism in our city.
There were two really tragic deaths in my high school.
It makes me sad that in my mind, they’re still classified as “those two really tragic deaths in my high school”. These kids were known around the hallways, at parties, from elementary school, and in classrooms. I now think back to them and automatically associate the eerie funerals, the lowered flag, the banners and the inscriptions on the school benches to their entire memories.
Of course I wish they were still around, but I also now wish that none of the memorial stuff lingered in my mind. In a way, those constant reminders seem like a pathetic attempt to force memory; aside from having a comforting place to pay respects, I think it would be nice if we had some confidence in our memories.
So it was 4:20 a few days ago...
I know this isn’t along the same lines of the types of cultural memory we’ve been talking about (monuments, tragedies, etc.), but I think it’s kind of cool how the cannabis culture club connects and organizes this massive get-together and chillfest on every April 20th. It feels like there’s a certain pressure to keep up the tradition, and therefore it’s more of a performance of memory than remembering itself. It’s a recognizable date regardless of partially losing its original meaning, and portrays
I really like the umbrellas here too...
Clint Burnham discussed the Vancouver Public Library design as compensating a city “which fears both its First Nations past and Asian future” (36).
I was thinking about the Olympics opening and closing ceremonies... I found it interesting that the closing ceremonies were so infused with classic Canadian stereotypes: giant (expensive) beavers, lumberjacks, and the like. Once everything had been said and done, and the weight of the opening ceremony (and the Games!) had lifted,
I also found it fascinating how much the First Nations culture was stressed. Throughout the Games, I noticed that each of the shows I went to (in the Cultural Olympiad) had a sideshow, portraying very typical First Nations art and performance. In the opening ceremonies, there was almost an over-expression of First Nations influence, not only “pigeonholing” the art, but resulting in a pressured pigeonholing of
Another Note on the Olympics...
(since my Simpsons post didn’t count!)
I was out and about in the streets of
For one, there was a very clear clash between the Americans and the Canadians. I don’t really need to say much about this. But one really cool thing I observed was how many foreigners were backing
Attached are some pics :)
My friend Rob lives near the park where Jeff Walls "Concrete Ball" was taken. Rob is friends with a struggling photographer (Christopher Young) not in the club of Jeff Wall alumnus. He posted this on his blog complete with picture of Rob. Enjoy the bitterness.
"Based on a found scene, the quietness of Concrete ball reveals Wall's attention to pictorial composition. The concern here is not torepresent an event, but rather to depict a generic urban landscape, without specific qualities and devoid of any drama. The perspective is carefully calculated and the central element responds to the curve of the road. The large scale of the work, proportioned to the human body, evokes a sense of immersion in the scene."
Well that's just super. Meanwhile in 2009 times, Rob and I were walking past this park quietly (not so quietly) making fun of athletic people when I saw this. Jeff Wall has all this street cred for elaborately staging his photos so I figured I better do the same and I told Rob to stand by the ball and look all artful and shit. Somebody pay me for this.
Although race relations is a major theme in Jeff Wall's Mimic (1982), another issue that it brings to the discussion is that of natural photography vs. staged photography. By 'natural', I mean a photograph without any choreography, a spontaneous image that captures a truly human moment. Does a photo have any less value because the artist controlled the situation with an exact vision, or is the message of a piece more important? I've always been more intrigued by photographs that aren't choreographed, pictures that show a truly human moment that couldn't be recreated (I've always had a big problem with the 'say cheese' style photos in which the subject puts on a face or pose). I'm not sure that Jeff Wall's photograph would be any more or less powerful if he had the chance to capture the moment that 'Mimic' was based on, the message is still there, but knowing that this image was intricately set-up to Wall's vision makes me somewhat uncomfortable as a viewer. We know that these people are actors, we know that the racist guy probably isn't racist and that the asian man probably isn't offended. We know that the time of day was specificly chosen and that the ignorant girlfriend was casted for the role. For me, this does steal away a bit of the effect of the piece, but without taking anything away from Wall's message about co-existing races in a city. That being said, if I wasn't informed that this photograph was choreographed and designed to look this way, I would have assumed that it was a naturally spontaneous photo capturing an (all too common) moment of racism in our city. It is to Wall's credit and talent that he could witness a moment like this and reimagine it through his lens, but I'll always sway more in the direction of natural photography and 'real' moments.
This brought me back to our own class discussion about the photoconceptualism debate around the artist writing academic essays on each other and not leaving much room for others to join the club. I feel that if there were essays about the Vancouver School, written in concise, non-academic writing with very little jargon, the general public would embrace the art with some regional pride. Those who are not photoconceptualists or art academics in general, and who have a high interest in learning about Vancouver art, should be able to appreciate something as innovative as the works of Jeff Wall or Stan Douglas through non-academic means.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
- So MAYBE there' s more to creating art than turning a picture upside down, and maybe taking a picture of one's self, giving it an obscure title and flipping it does constitute an artistic statement, but I just do not know for sure. Of course it was rather interesting to know the back story behind Tim Lee's 'The Jerk'. By itself, the picture makes one really think "OK, what's Tim Lee trying to do here?", but with knowledge of his referencing another work of art makes things a bit more hazy.
The problem is not the statement (whatever it may be), but that it requires the viewer to know of the other picture and formulate (or be told of) the link. Without that, 'The Jerk' is just 'The Jerk'. Which I think is fine. Maybe the allusion to the other piece is an added bonus for art's elite, or maybe most art house-types would already be familiar with this, but I think that self-enclosed attitude is part of the problem with Vancouver's art scene.
I remember visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery as a child and seeing some really weird things, chief among them Stan Douglas' Every Building on 100 West Hastings. It took up a whole wall, and I remember being slightly disturbed by it, but mainly wondering how the guy took it.
I didn't care much for my visits back in those days, when my parents dragged my sister and I to a big boring building where you couldn't run around or be noisy. (I also remember a huge picture of naked people. That was pretty neat.) As the years went by our visits became less and less frequent, and eventually stopped as my sister and I transitioned into high school.
The re-introduction of Douglas' work in the course gave me the opportunity to fully appreciate and analyze a work that I admired when I was younger, but did not have the capacity to enjoy on a critical level. The uncanny holds a certain appeal for me, which meant I had a field day when I was able to identify aspects of the picture such as the absence of people outside, and inside despite the light coming from some rooms in the apartments. The pointlessness of street lights and traffic lights, as well as the absence of cars, add to the deliciously creepy nature of Douglas' work.
This tension reminds me of documentary films, which are "documentations" of real life scenarios, but can be easily manipulated, through editing, staged dramatic occurrences, etc.
The documentary film Thin Blue Line explores not how film can manipulate the "truth" - but how humans can manipulate it too. Flimmaker Errol Morris uses the story of a man, who was wrongly convicted of murder a police officer, as the backbone to an exploration of authenticity and truth (or perhaps "truths"). The story was not told in a linear convention; instead, Morris chose to highlight the story's questionable facts as a jigsaw puzzle. He would give the audience a corner, and then jump to a piece in the middle. Morris' manipulation of the truth through film elements echoed the way characters in the story would manipulate the truth of what happened the night police officer Robert Wood was murdered.
The film uses many re-enactments sequences, playing out different scenarios, different truths to the one murder. Perhaps like how Jeff Wall created Mimic, these re-enactments were meant to clearly show an interpretation of an event, but they were not meant to tell the truth. There were a few people who gave their testimonies about what happened that night and the re-enactment of each showed the transformation of a simple story into a much more complex one.
Although the film is a documentary, clearly manipulation of the "truth" can actually further discussions. With a photo like Jeff Wall's Mimic, we can delve deeper in social and cultural issues surrounding the subjects of the photos, rather than a surface interpretation of who are the people and what are they doing.
It is a fairly recent installation, unveiled on Dec 4, 2009, which makes it less than six months old. The memorial itself was suggested by SFU's Women in Engineering organization.
An article about the memorial on the SFU website explains its history:
“The bench, created by Victoria artist Illarion Gallant, is made of basalt rock from the Squamish area. It bears the following inscription:
'On the 6th of December 1989, 14 women were killed at École Polytechnique de Montreal. They were mainly engineering students. Our community mourns their loss and honours them with this memorial.'”
The memorial is just outside the Applied Sciences building, with a path leading up to the central bus loop.
The article can be found at http://www.sfu.ca/pamr/media_releases/media_releases_archives/media_12010901.html
An Article by Jonah Goldberg explains the photograph's immediate context:
“Just moments before that photo had been taken, several of [General Loan's] men had been gunned down. One of his soldiers had been at home, along with [his] wife and children. The Vietcong had attacked during the holiday of Tet, which had been agreed upon as a time for a truce. As it turned out, many of the victims of the NC and North Vietnamese were defenseless.“
We learned that the prisoner died and the photographer won a Pulitzer, but what happened to the guy holding the gun?
“Photographer Eddie Adams, who won a Pulitzer Prize for this photograph, said the execution was justified, because the Viet Cong officer had killed eight South Vietnamese. The furor created by this 1968 image destroyed [the executioner] Loan's life. He fled South Vietnam in 1975, the year the communists overran the country, and moved to Virginia, where he opened a restaurant. He died in 1998 at age 67. Loan 'was a hero,' Adams said when he died. 'America should be crying. I just hate to see him go this way, without people knowing anything about him.' “ -Flickr User
Adams later wrote the following in an article for TIME magazine:
"The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them, but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American soldiers?'"
Just a side note since this is my last blog for the course, I really enjoyed the class and the ideas that were thrown around. There were many good discussions and it was nice to look forward to a class that wasn't so rigid in its lecture structure. Cheers to everyone for a good semester! and good luck!
As many of us agreed in class, roadside memorials are very effective, often more effective than memorials placed in public parks. They seem to be an effective tool for awareness about the true dangers of car accidents. People have even said that upon seeing a massive cluster of flowers and stuffed animals, they tend to take their foot off the gas. Even so, how appropriate are these roadside memorials? Is it fair for people to be able to leave objects lying around in a public space without any sense of authority or ownership? It seems to be a growing trend for people to leave things at a site where loved ones have died on the side of the road. At what point does this become overkill? With an abundance of these roadside memorials, their effect on awareness if bound to decline when people simply become numb to these various memorials. Roadside crashes are certainly not on the decline, and eventually our streets will become overwhelmingly littered with various crosses and sentiments. It seems to me that a gravesite is a more appropriate space to place these types of sentiments. Its not that I’m not an insensitive human being, I do feel for these people. But where does it end?
It's obvious that if you ask any Canadian, any Vancouverite, what the most memorable moment was during the 2010 Olympics, they would say with conviction that it was the overtime goal by Sidney Crosby during the Men's Finals in Ice Hockey. Yes, what a goal it was indeed. I was watching the game from my friend's house with him and another friend of mine. Initially, the plan was to watch the game with them and then to head home for a quiet night of studying before school the next day. Little did I realize how contagious an Olympic victory can be. The moment we won that game, my two friends cheered and demanded that we go downtown to celebrate with the rest of the city. The moment they cheered; I cheered. The moment they asked; I immediately abandoned any notion of prudence. We were on our way on transit in ten minutes. I was swept up by an overwhelming urge to have a great time. That's the potency of an Olympic celebration, it seems. I gave high-fives to at least one hundred strangers within the span of two hours. I started cheers of "Ca-na-da" and watched as they were carried away down the corridors of Granville skytrain station. I lost myself in the crowds and crowds of people who, perhaps for the only time in their lives, would ever reveal any hint of patriotism. It was infectious and I loved it. It strange how, leading up to the Games, we all had at least the smallest worry hanging over our heads. Some were concerned with the lack of powder on the mountain tops. Others were already complaining about how bad transit would be, even a week before the first event took place. Affordable housing was, and still is, an ongoing issue in the city. But hate the mega-event or not, no one complained when that puck slid past Ryan Miller in that final game. Everyone was caught up in the glory of our country and our city. Everyone was proud to be Canadian. The Olympics had come, but before it disappeared, it made sure to leave at least one purely amazing experience in the minds of every spectator. Now that it's gone, it's back to my normal routine. I can go ahead and analyze and criticize the Games as much as possible, if I wanted to. But the Olympics had done its damage in one evening, proving to everyone that it really wasn't all that bad.
Thinking about memorials, I keep going back to the memorial in the street performed by Rebecca Belmore, “The Named and the Unnamed”. This is the memorial where the woman washed the streets, screamed the names of the missing persons from the Vancouver East Side, nailed her dress to the telephone post, and ripped the heads off roses with her teeth. Unlike memorials in parks that commemorate people discreetly on a rock or a wall that blends in with the background, Belmore commands the attention of passersby. She would have been impossible to ignore, for she stood her ground and screamed the names of the missing peoples. This type of memorializing got me questioning the purpose of public memorials. Is the main purpose to create awareness and command attention? Or is a memorial most importantly meant to function as a sign of respect and acknowledgement for those chose to do so? Although I think Belmore’s technique is a creative and unique way to memorialize people, I am not quite sure Vancouver is ready for this type of memorial. The city seems most comfortable with discreet memorials that won’t make waves or distract people too much from their everyday lives. It seems that this city is more focused on forgetting, and moving on, rather than staying in the moment and remembering. This is why I think the memorials around the lower mainland tend to function as background props in parks and gardens. A memorial such as Belmore’s would command full attention and seriousness, a break from the everyday life of naiveté to the reality of the terrible things that take place in the city we live in. Belmore’s performance would also in a sense be a great risk. If people did not understand the sincerity of the performance, or chose not to respect it, they might act out in a way that would greatly disrespect both the performer, and the people trying to pay their respects. I personally do not think Vancouver is ready for this type of memorializing. In order for this type of memorial to be effective in a Vancouver urban space, the city would have to shift its focus from forgetting, towards remembering. It would have to be a collective shift in attitudes, and therefore allow the respect and sincerity this type of performance requires. However, with that said, perhaps these types of performances could change the way Vancouver conceptualizes memorials. In “Performance and the City”, Solga, Hokins and Orr state that, “performance can help to renegotiate the urban archive, to build the city and to change it” (6). Instead of waiting for the city to shift and be ready for performed memorials, perhaps these types of memorials will be the shift that changes the city.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Again, I am sure...nevermind...
And The Show Must Go On (from the PuSh Festival website):
“A cult figure on the international dance scene, Jérôme Bel brings us The Show Must Go On—a delightfully subversive game of anticipation and expectation that blurs the line between spectator and spectacle. With an illustrious group of 20 local individuals, accompanied by a D.J. with an extensive collection of pop tunes, fans of last year’s That Night Follows Day will find in Jérôme Bel’s masterpiece a truly kindred spirit—an evening that lovingly combines humour, nostalgia and human frailty, with the immediacy of live performance. The Show Must Go On has been cast in Vancouver to unite a community of performers in honour of the new SFU Woodward’s. Join us for a glimpse into the re-birth of one of our city’s most treasured landmarks.”
When The Show Must Go On premièred in 2001 at the Théâtre de la Ville, Paris, some members of the audience clapped and sang along, others stormed the stage demanding their money back, and one critic slapped another in the face—a mixed critical reception, you might say. While I certainly approve of Bel’s original choreographic piss-taking, I question the show’s continuous touring. I realise that “each night is different.” So goes live performance. But The Show Must Go On appears somewhat drained of its provocative vigour. It is a show of moment, not repetition, and its moment has passed it seems. What is more, critics appear bent on maintaining its subversive potential by turning every misstep into some sort of theoretical commentary: It is boring/it is a commentary on boredom, it is superficial/it is a commentary on superficiality, it is kitsch/it is a commentary on kitsch. Or maybe it is boring superficial kitsch? In Vancouver specifically, the show has been touted a new beginning for the Woodward’s theatre—progressive and community-building. (Note: the night I attended Vancouver’s insular arts community made up most of the audience.) Really? Coming together over largely American pop-music, which has transformed musical craft into yet another capitalist mode of production? I mean, the reason we can all sing along is because the music industry “spectacularly” (in the Debordian sense) drills the songs into our consciousness. Then again, it is probably just a commentary on capitalist proliferation via music.
I am sure I have already done these PuSh posts, but the blog says otherwise. So, round two...
“With the haunting face of actress Renée Falconetti playing the doomed Joan of Arc as inspiration, Vancouver-based composer Stefan Smulovitz has written a luminous score to accompany Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Performed by the Eye of Newt Ensemble, this PuSh Festival commissioned piece for ten musicians includes text by Colin Browne and combines the stunning voice of Viviane Houle with the city’s top instrumentalists and Christ Church Cathedral’s legendary pipe organ, in a sublime tribute to one of film’s most enduring performances.”
While the original film—La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, directed Dreyer—is brilliant, I did not think the musical and text accompaniment contributed much, beyond pretentious appropriation, that is. In La Passion de Jeanne d'Arc, Falconetti's performance, complemented by relentless close-up shooting and use of panochromatic film renders Joan of Arc, canonised by the Roman Catholic Church in 1920, intensely human. There are several themes at work in this amplified humanism. One I find particularly interesting is the emphasis on personal confession, not only as purging of sinful behaviour, but also as a necessary means of legitimating a higher authority. In “Chapter XV” of the Essence of Christianity, German philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach argues that Christianity creates the illusion of a higher authority—God—as a means of controlling humanity, when in reality the higher authority of God is entirely based on human self-subordination: humans create the God they cannot live up to. This is particularly evident in the figure of Christ that, neither wholly human nor wholly God, keeps humanity under servitude in cycle of aspiration and inadequacy. Joan of Arc is similarly asked to confess her sins to God as represented in oppressive law. The deviant must validate the law of her exclusion.
In this sense, Joan of Arc’s refusal, her silence is a very powerful resistance. Adding music and text—to give voice to—this silence is merely a buying into “active” conventions: active voice versus passive silence, masculinity versus femininity, authority versus subordinate. It is little more than an old-hack, pretentious, masculine appropriation, even if sung by Viviane Houle.
Indexicality is in many ways an extension of Barthes' studium and punctum theory - the seeing (of the object) and being there (of standing before the object). Addressing how “the sign represents its object,” or “on what basis does it come to stand for its object,” indexicality applies Charles Sanders Peirce’s semiotic “trichotomy of icon, index, and symbol” to photography: The sign may act as an (i) icon, representing the object in its likeness to it; as an (ii) index, representing the object in its existential connection to it; or as a (iii) symbol, representing the object by convention. The photograph is an index. It exists as the “relation between the object photographed and the image finally created,” resulting from “the transformation of light sensitive emulsion caused by light reflecting off the object photographed filtered through the lens and diaphragm.”  The indexicality of the photograph is the medium specificity of the photograph, which ultimately differentiates photography from painting. However, indexicality also burdens photography a representational limitation – the photograph is casually related to the object it photographs – which since the late 1970s has been challenged in the tableau form.
Wall's The Destroyed Room (1978) is one such challenge. Confronting The Destroyed Room, measuring 1.5m x 2.3m, the spectator encounters a wealth of detail made visible by the photograph’s size: the diagonally ripped mattress, the exposed insulation, empty light-bulb socket, overturned table, the single gold-lamé shoe, the bed-sheets and gowns, the painted brick hallway, the dancing figurine, the broken mirror, and the peeling paint. The act of "seeing" is confused. As well, each object is meticulously placed by Wall. The act of "being there" is denied. Agency is now attributed, not to indexicality - object and light interaction - but to the photographer, to Wall - as artist.
 James Elkins, Photography Theory (London: Routledge, 2007): 222-223.  Tom Gunning, “What’s the Point of an index? Or Faking Photographs,” NORDICAM Review (5:1-2 September 2004): 40.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Clifford worked in the Downtown Eastside for the Portland Hotel Society. A particular memorial group on Facebook is actually dedicated to raise money to donate in honour of Clifford: Devon Clifford Discussion
(I apologize for those who cannot access the link! Here is a public look at the site, but it's still not incredibly informative)
They have contacted the Portland Hotel Society, and are trying to organize a fundraising event/benefit concert in honour of Clifford. What is inspiring about this new direction some cybermemorials are taking is the forward action its creators are employing. Rather than create a space to talk about the past, this group is talking about the future and continuing the work Clifford was doing. Something like this is a rather fitting tribute.
The Vancouver Sun also wrote a lovely obit if you are interested.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Some of you may be familiar with the Montreal Massacre that occured more than two decades ago at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. On December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine shot and stabbed 28 students, killing 14 women specifically selected for attack based solely on their sex. Lepine specifically targeted women in what he claimed to be a fight against feminism. As such, the event has since been classified by many feminists groups as an anti-feminist attack that symbolizes violence again women.
I remember participating in a vigil for this massacre back in 2004 when I was attending the U of A. Names of the 14 slain women were written on heavy black wooden boards which were strapped onto the bodies of 14 volunteers who would wear it through the course of the day. At night, candles were lit (in 4 feet of snow), songs were sung, and heartfelt prayers were said aloud.
Numerous memorials have been assembled in memory of the slain women but the massacre has also spurred annual campaigns and commemorative demonstrations aimed to raise awareness of male violence and discrimination against women. Although the massacre was a deliberate attack against women, I personally find it problematic that little to no tribute or recognition has been given to the men who were injured in the process. During the vigil that I participated in, there was only mention of the slain and injured women but no mention at all of the men. I did not find out until much later that men were also victims, albeit not targeted victims, but victims nonetheless. To add insult to the injury, guilt was bestowed on the injured men who survived the attack for not protecting the women and doing anything to stop the killer. So why all this focus and sympathy for the women? Are not the male victims equally honorable human beings deserving of sympathy and respect, regardless of the motive behind the attack?
I find it quite puzzling as well to consider that the deaths of the women have been appropriated by the feminist movement to promote their agenda on discrimination against women. This movement has had a significant influence on the way this event is portrayed and viewed by the public and in the media. Since 1991 (just 2 years after the event) the anniversary of the massacre has shifted from specifically commemorating the event to being designated as the "National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women," which has sparked alot of controversy. However, this wouldn't be the first time the feminist movement has been criticized for using such events as the Montreal Massacre to justify their antagonism. The above photo is of a memorial in Vancouver titled "Marker of Change" which has been highly criticized for its dedication to "all women murdered by men" because it implies that all men are potential murders and that all men should accept guilt and responsibility for the violence against women.
What do you think of these kinds of memorials and monuments built upon feminist attitudes? Do you think the feminist movement is justified in appropriating events such as the Montreal Massacre to marginalize the issue of male violence and discrimination against women? Do you think it perpetuates the social stigma surrounding men as aggressive and violent beings?
N.B. I apologize for the low quality. I have not used a scanner in years and could not really get the technology to function for me.
Taken by Vancouver photographer and artist Lincoln Clarkes, this photo is titled, Solider, Angel and Man, Vancouver 1986. Lincoln Clarkes has been slowly archiving his photos digitally, so I tried to look for the story behind this particular shot on his blog, but could not find anything. So, my thoughts are simply based on our recent class discussions around public space and memorials. The memorial is located on W Cordova between Seymour and Richards (near Steamworks).
View Larger Map
This particular monument is sculpture that depicts an angel carrying a dead soldier and is to commemorate the lives lost in World War I. One of three identical statues commissioned by the CPR to honour those who fought in the war (the other two are located in Winnipeg and Montreal). In the picture, you can see that the angel is holding a full wreath in her upraised hand (in more recent pictures, that wreath is gone). After WWII, dates of that war were added to the monument's plaque.
What is interesting to note about this photograph is the way the unknown man is interacting with the memorial. Is it disrespectful to climb atop the bronze figures or is it perhaps appropriation of the object for man's own use? Does it take away the meaning of the memorial? Why is he even up there? Like our class discussions about the Air India memorial (with regards to the designated seating benches), is there an appropriate way to interact with a monument? I see this photo as an example of the tensions between people, public space and memorials.
Monday, April 19, 2010
A few years ago, Torsten Kehler, a professor at SFU who I'm sure many of you are familiar with, told our class about one of his experiences with Jeff Wall. Sometime in the early 80's, Torsten lived in the same apartment building as Jeff. Sometime during that period, Jeff Wall asked several of the residents if he could use their apartments for one of his projects, Torsten was one of those residents. Jeff blacked out all of the windows, and after that I have no idea what direction the photo took, I can't remember if Torsten mentioned what happened. Since that day, I have been unable to look at any of Jeff Wall's photographs without thinking about that anecdote, whats worse is that if its an interior shot, its the only thing I can consider. The work shown in class, "Insomnia", has always been my most likely suspect. Again, its entirely possible that Torsten mentioned exactly which photograph was his (or one of his other tenant's) apartment.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
This grainy photo is of Leeside, a guerrilla built skateboard park which exists underneath the Cassiar Connector along Hastings in between Burnaby and Vancouver. The park is named Leeside after Lee Matasi, who was fatally shot in 2005 outside the Red Room. After Matasi's death, the park became a living memorial. In direct contrast to the passive memorials we've discussed in class, this site is active. It draws skateboarders oblivious to the context surrounding the park, but as it does so, continues to inform people about Matasi.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Honestly, I liked when the Olympics were here; I fully embraced the whole thing while it lasted. However, upon logging into Facebook for some early morning procrastinatin' time, I saw that the Olympics group had posted this message (see image).
Sunday, April 11, 2010
This piece is a tribute to Vancouver's days of Neon signs, to the historical expression of this city. This permanent installation is a text based work which playfully and poetically addresses its surroundings in its caption.
Below you will see it at night to give you a better idea of the tribute to neon.