Ever dreamed of exhibiting your photos at the MOV? Now is your chance.
The Museum of Vancouver is partnering with SPARC BC for a special exhibition of your photos on Vancouver’s “working world”. From tough trades, to tall towers, Working World: Diversity and Employment in Metro Vancouver, will showcase your unique perspective on this city’s intersection of work and diversity. The aim of the photo contest and exhibition is to cause people to reflect on what diverse workplaces and workplace diversity means to them, and what they see as key issues, strengths, new ways of thinking.
WHY: To challenge, support, and broaden the conversation on diversity in and of the workplace in Vancouver. Plus you could win $100- $1500 for your contribution.
WHO: Your photos as curated by members of SPARC BC and the Museum of Vancouver.
WHAT: A photojournalistic, documentary style approach to workplace diversity. Send one sample photo by January 6th. If your photo is selected, you will be asked to submit 15 additional photos on the same theme.
WHERE: Photos will be showcased in the community gallery at the Museum of Vancouver. Previous exhibits in this space include “Post No Bills: Vancouver’s Punk Family Tree” a collection of posters, LPs & photos from Vancouver’s early punk rock era. The community gallery achieves high viewer traffic as it is free and open to the public.
WHEN: Your submission of one photojournalistic style image, photo description, CV, and artist statement are due by January 6, 2012 at 4:30pm. Once your sample photo is selected, photographers will be asked to submit 15 additional photos by mid-February. Selected images will be on display April 2012.
Photos: Brett Beadle
#occupyvancouver dominates the news this week. Thousands of people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery for Occupy Vancouver's first General Assembly on Saturday. Many people are prepared to camp out for some time, though the ban on staking tents to the ground and cooking with propane makes this more difficult.
The Tyee asks people why they have chosen to take to the streets.
We Day. Meanwhile, another gathering for change: as 18,000 youth participate in We Day, where Mikhail Gorbachev and other speakers presented on the value of community service and youth engagement.
The Missing Women Inquiry is off to a rocky start with protests as several groups have chosen to not participate. Many groups are concerned that the lack of funding provided to advocacy groups for legal assistance for is a serious impediment to having their voices heard, and without their support for the process, it is uncertain whether the Inquiry will acheive its purpose.
Powwow. A huge powwow took place in the Downtown Eastside to honour First Nations elders.
Re:CONNECT challenges Vancouverites to reinvision the city's eastern core and viaducts as a vibrant space.
No more pictures. Jeff Wall laments the loss of photogenic buildings in Vancouver.
Local food. A few months after being featured in MOV's Home Grown exhibit, the Home Grow-In Grocery closed suddenly, taking customers' deposits with it. Now the store has reopened with new owners, who are trying to regain the trust of their customers while building our local food infrastructure.
Ethnic enclaves. Is it time for Vancouver to have a Pinoytown?
Image: Ariane Colenbrander
Earthquakes. This week the world has been witness to the devastating power of a subduction earthquake and it’s aftermath in Japan. But Vancouver is no stranger to earthquakes. What would it look like if it happened here?
While we’re on this topic, are you earthquake prepared?
Casino. Hearings at city hall about the proposed Edgewater Casino expansion began last week with 300 people attending. It seems the tide may be shifting in favour of the opponents, as council begins to ask tougher questions.
Taking aim at parkades. The Canada Line and bike lanes have succeeded in getting many people out of their cars, and fewer people are driving downtown. The result is an overabundance of empty parking stalls. What should we do with that space?
Panoramas. The City of Vancouver Archives is in the process of digitizing it’s photos and has released a set of panoramas from the early 1900s on flickr.
Bottled water. It seems Metro Vancouver’s pro-tapwater campaign has succeeded in convincing some people to ditch the bottle.
Back alley living. Take a look inside Vancouver’s first laneway house.
Music underground. What if we build a concert hall underneath the art gallery?
Image: City of Vancouver Archives, via flickr
There are many ways to tell a story, and part of curating an exhibit is making the decision as to how to present it to people with the finite space, time and resources you have available. In the case of Home Grown, the partnership between MOV and FarmFolkCityFolk had a huge impact on how the exhibit took form and eventually came to feature the photography of Brian Harris.
These photographs introduce you to people and places that you might not otherwise have access to. They provide brief glimpses into several different kinds of activities relating to agriculture around Metro Vancouver, both urban and rural, community-based and private. The images themselves are very beautiful to look at.
But as with any medium, photography has it’s limits. There is only so much information that can be presented in a single photograph. Certain things are included in the frame while others are not.
As an exhibit, Home Grown provides a broad overview of many things that are currently happening in agriculture around Metro Vancouver, but no one story is explored in any particular depth.
Over the summer Kaylin Pearce and I traveled around to various locations to meet some of the people and places in the photographs. We wanted to talk to them about what they do, how they got into producing food and what they get out of it.
The project had it’s setbacks at times. There were equipment and transit mishaps. Scheduling interviews was a hassle. The summer is a busy season for many farmers, and understandably, many have little time to donate to talking to summer students. Others declined to be interviewed for other reasons. Some of the exhibit images were taken in locations that we were not able to visit within the time that we were allotted.
But over the course of the summer we were able to visit and speak to several individuals who were kind enough to take the time to share their thoughts and spaces with us.
Over the next several weeks I will be sharing a bit about the experience and what we talked about through film, blog posts and photographs. I hope you’ll follow along.
Image credit: E. Brown-John
I love this picture.
I guess that’s an obvious statement to make but I strongly feel that it exemplifies the key themes that we want to emphasize with the Bhangra Project.
At the top of the picture is the skyline of Downtown Vancouver and this situates the “place” of our historical endeavour. What is it about Vancouver (or the idea of Vancouver?) that has influenced Bhangra and made its performance and music different from other parts of the world? How has the city affected and been affected by the story of Bhangra? What makes Bhangra in Vancouver unique?
This also sets a scope for the project. It includes today’s Vancouver but our also speaks historically to the downtown area, East Vancouver, South Vancouver, Main Street, Gastown, Chinatown, Commercial Drive, Kerrisdale, Oakridge, UBC and past Boundary Road into Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby and beyond. It speaks to the diverse “soundscapes” and dance forms that are produced here and internationally. Wherever the music and dance go, it takes Vancouver with it.
The second element is the gorgeous archival picture in the possession of Mr. Paul Binning of PAAR Club. It features an image of Shaminder Grewal who was a dancer from the Sialkot region of Punjab, Pakistan. There’s an element of youth and exuberance in his pose that evokes that iconic idea of Bhangra with which many of us are familiar.
As a historical artifact I can’t help but focus on unique elements: the curved stick decorated with various studs, the vest decorated with hearts, his hoop earring, and especially the half moon design that he’s drawn over his right eye. There’s so many questions I have about this picture too: Why was it taken? Where was it taken? Was it for a competition? An ad? And some questions that are just fun to ask: what colour is his vest, turban and ring, for instance?
A part of me thinks these ambiguities allow our imagination to fill in the blanks and (more importantly) leave spaces for discussion and dialogue.
The lower third is something central to the way we’re researching our project. The female hand seems to contemplate the picture and skyline together and rather than being voyeurs, it incorporates us (the viewer) into the discussion, too. How do we situate ourselves with the past of Bhangra in Vancouver? What parts of if do we highlight? What elements resonate with us? A key facet of this exhibition is to include as many voices as possible in telling the story of Bhangra in Vancouver and female practitioners as well as DJ’s, singers, musicians & Bhangra lovers are integral to this story.
So that’s my opinion of the Project Image. I guess I could talk for hours about it (does it seem like I have?) but what does it evoke for you? Is it an engaging picture? Does it raise questions? Does it answer questions?
Naveen Girn is currently a cultural researcher on the Bhangra.me Exhibit which looks at the history of Bhangra in Vancouver and opens May 2011. You can learn more about the project by following his blog and twitter.
Yesterday, I posted about the work of John Allison, a fine-art photographer who has taken thousands of images of the city in an effort to track its ongoing transformation (read it here). In this interview, he describes why he does it, the buildings he wishes were still standing—and the one that may not be long for this world.
How much time would you say you spend on photographing Vancouver? I’m out and about pretty much every weekend. And I have my compact camera with me all the time.
Why do you do it?
I began to see the city changing in 2004-2005. Saw lots of those Development Application signs around and then places would soon be gone. So, I started to think it was really worthwhile, trying to document aspects of the city that were beginning to disappear—old houses, buildings, corner stores, that kind of thing. Things really came to a head in 2006 and 2007; there were so many buildings being demolished it was hard to keep track. During that time you could pass by almost any part of the city and something was being torn down.
What does your collection look like?
I have thousands of digital images to keep track of. In the last five years or so I’ve been shooting around 7,000 to 8,000 images a year. So, I have quite a collection of backup DVDs and a few hard drives! I’ve made some prints but have chosen to print mostly 4×6-inch proofs just to have a hard copy of images I’m happy with. I’ve decided that right now it’s important to just get images captured, as once something in the city disappears it’s gone forever. I can always look after the printing later!
What is your take on Vancouver’s development story? When an old building comes down is it a tragedy or progress? Both?
Back in 2006-2007, there was a big rush on development so the city lost a lot of great old buildings. The old Colliers building at Richards and Georgia comes to mind. Recently, there have been some great developments and renovations of some very old buildings. The Ralph Block across from the Woodward’s development on Hastings Street is just finished. I never thought I’d see that building restored so someone should get an award for that one! But of course you have to be realistic too, some buildings are well past their prime and are just too costly to renovate.
Thinking about the “Just a Memory Now” set in particular, which buildings do you wish had been saved?
Places like Molly’s Coffee Shop and some of the old heritage houses on Richards Street. Also, a lot of little corner stores have disappeared, like Henry’s on Hastings Street. There was also a strip of houses on Guelph Street near East 12th that were all torn down to build condos. That could almost be Vancouver’s credo: “If it’s old, tear it down and build condos!”
What are your favourite Vancouver buildings, demolished or otherwise?
That’s a tough one. I’m a fan of the little, old, abandoned building that not too many people take notice of. An example of this would be something like the Blue Eagle Cafe. One of my faves, even though it’s almost falling down, is the Opsal Steel building. It’s really a shame what has happened to it.
A slideshow of Allison’s work is now on the Multimedia section of our website here.
Image credit: John Allison
We MOV staffers are constantly amazed and inspired by the archival-like documentation of Vancouver happening online; social media has radically altered the landscape. It’s a frenetic, messy, diverse, ongoing collection, and, perhaps unexpectedly, a high-tech throwback to the city’s original methods of record-keeping, when keen locals like Major James Skitt Matthews (later the city’s volunteer archivist) amassed hard copies of photographs, artifacts, news clippings, and ephemera as a hobby.
I recently came across the extraordinary work of John Allison, a fine-art photographer who’s worked in the photographic business for decades, first as a darkroom technician—even printing Jeff Wall’s Ilfochromes for “three or four years,” he estimates—and now in the digital realm, specializing in large-format printing.
Allison arrived in Vancouver in 1988, but says he only really became fascinated with the city’s history in the last five years. Since then, he’s posted some 4,600 photographs of the city on Flickr. He’s established image sets like Then and Now which sees images from the City of Vancouver Archives and the Vancouver Public Library lined up with present-day shots. Another set entitled Just a Memory Now, catalogues buildings that didn’t survive the wrecking ball; a selection of those images along with Allison’s commentary, is now on the Multimedia section of our website here. Scroll through and you get a fascinating window into Vancouver’s ongoing development, and redevelopment, story. He just might be Vancouver’s next Major James Skitt Matthews or an architecturally-minded Foncie Pulice.
Image credit: John Allison
Tonight the Museum hosts a members-only reception for our ongoing exhibit “My Heroes in the Streets,” a series of 10 images taken by Ian Wallace in 1986. (One of the images is pictured left.)
Over the past three decades, Vancouver has emerged as a important centre for contemporary photographic art, with local artists such as Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Stan Douglas, Roy Arden, and Wallace pushing traditional notions of photography, art, cinematography, and documentary. The modern city is a recurring subject: the contents of landfills are presented; rows of Vancouver Specials—that loved and loathed housing type that dominates Vancouver’s eastside neighbourhoods—have appeared in backgrounds.
Several local institutions have figured prominently in this movement, notably: TheVancouver Art Gallery, which has hosted numerous exhibitions of this work and published an incredible library of related books and catalogues (see: Roy Arden: Against the Day and Jeff Wall: Vancouver Art Gallery Collection for recent examples). The lesser-known Canadian Photographic Portfolio Society has also played a key role, publishing limited-edition photographic portfolios, boxed in elegant archival cases. “My Heroes in the Streets” was their first commissioned work, and a slideshow of the images is on their website, linked here. The photographs show individuals navigating a generic and mundane urban landscape, localized by Vancouver locations and symbols, like street addresses and overhead trolley wires. Wallace describes the street as the site “metaphorically as well as in actuality, of all the forces of society and economics imploded upon the individual.”
The Museum’s interest here leans toward the documentary aspect of these works. Wallace’s intentions notwithstanding, it’s hard to ignore how the downtown core has changed since the images were taken, transitioning from a bland western outpost searching for its best side pre-Expo 86, to a post-industrial, international city. Still, Vancouver’s preoccupation with how it’s viewed by the outside world persists, intensifying in the lead up to another massive international event. What will the world find when they get here in February?
Image credit: CPPS
We’re always looking for images of Vancouver—new, old, beautiful, strange, revelatory. Browsing photostreams on Flickr—a site invented locally, no less—has become a pastime at the Museum.
Vancouverites, it would seem, spend an inordinate amount of time photographing their surrounds. Two reasons, the first one obvious: we’re a photogenic city. Two: we’re a young city, and in so many ways still settling in. Some of our most populous neighbourhoods are only a handful of years old; others have been redeveloped many, many times over, and have no particular aesthetic. A typical Vancouver city block might include an arts-and-crafts-style cottage, a mid-century bungalow, and an 1980s-era, seashell-pink, stucco-clad two-storey. On so many occasions, you pass a new building on your daily commute and can’t recall what was there prior. Local photography has become a way to keep track; a powerful cataloguing tool, driven by photographers, both amateur and professional, who actively share their work online.
Among this diverse group is Kenny Louie. We discovered his photostream recently and have been scrolling through it—all 850 images and counting—ever since. Many of his images have made their way onto this website. Louie, 31, is a software developer who grew up in Renfrew-Collingwood, and now lives in Burnaby. He carries a digital SLR camera with him most of the time, and has made a practice of taking at least one photograph a day as part of his “365” project. Another informal project has him uploading shots of North and Southeast False Creek every Friday. He says it’s just a “silly thing”—he’s in that area a lot because his wife works at Science World—but the sheer size of his portfolio indicates it’s anything but. He’s amassed over 1,000 images of that area alone, and in the process, produced a thorough chronicle of the contentious Olympic Village construction. Other photo sets capture the Downtown Eastside, Granville Island, and Yaletown, among many other locations. Taken together, it’s a moving portrait of the city today.
Herewith, a sampling of Louie’s online portfolio, with his comments:
Museum of Vancouver: “This was taken on one of my evening photowalks, when I was waiting for my wife. I had been shooting between the Burrard and Granville Street Bridges and was making my way back when I noticed some other large group photographing the Museum and thought, yeah, the light is pretty good.”
The Ovaltine Café: “My dad used to work here. One of his friends took it over, and my dad was semi-retired at the time, so he went to help out on the weekends and a few weekdays. It’s not as bad as you might think it is, because it’s in such close proximity to the police station.”
Stanley Park: “So many of my shots emphasize cityscape. I took this shot of Stanley Park to remind myself of the natural beauty we sometimes take for granted in this city.”