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T O| F R O M BC ELEC TRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS Septe m be r 15 - N ove m be r 10, 2012

TO |FRO M B C E L E C T R I C R A I LW AY 1 0 0 Y E A R S

Ra ym on d B oi sj o l y | S t a n D o u gl as | Al i Kazi m i Va n e s s a K w a n | E v a n L e e | C i n d y M o c h i z u k i

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Ce n tre A : T h e Van cou ver I n t er national C entre for C ontem p or ar y Asian A r t

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T O| F R O M BC ELEC TRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS Septe m be r 15 - N ove m be r 10, 2012

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T O | FR O M B C E L E C T R I C R A I LW AY 1 0 0 Y E A R S

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Centre A The Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art 2 West Hastings Street Vancouver BC V6B 1G6 604.683.8326 | info@centrea.org www.centrea.org

Authors: Colin Browne, Makiko Hara, Am Johal, Louis Kaplan, Haema Sivanesan and Annabel Vaughan. Artists: Raymond Boisjoly, Stan Douglas, Ali Kazimi, Vanessa Kwan, Evan Lee and Cindy Mochizuki. Managing Editor & Designer: Carmen Lam. Copy Editor: Haema Sivanesan. Installation Photographer: Trevor Brady. Volunteers: Elena Heavenor, Coco Huang, Daniel Akihiro Iwama, Jorma Kujala, Oliver Li, Jimmy Liang, Naomi Moriyama, Winnie Ng, Becky Nguyen, Jessa Alston-O’Connor, Sora Park, Savana Salloum, Augstina Santoso, Natalie Tan, Alena Webber, Nik White, Kazuho Yamamoto and Jay Yoon. Printed and Bound: Classic Printing, Vancouver, BC. Staff: Executive Director: Haema Sivanesan Curator: Makiko Hara Gallery Administrator: Carmen Lam Technician: Dylan McHugh Image Credits Front Inside Pages 01. Vancouver fare tickets (front), B.C. Electric Railway Co. Date and photographer unknown. VPL 86844.

Back Inside Pages 03. B.C. Electric waiting room. 1937. Photographer James Crookall. City of Vancouver Archives, AM640:CVA 260-784.

04. Vancouver fare tickets (back), B.C. 02. British Columbia Electric Railway Depot on Carrall Street, May 30, 1928. Photographer Electric Railway Co. Date and photographer unknown. VPL 86844. Dominion Photo Co. VPL 22735. Printed in Canada. ISBN: 978-1-927605-00-4. Published by Centre A: The Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Š 2012 Centre A and the contributing authors and artists. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieved system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without prior written permission of the publisher. 8


T O| F R O M BC ELEC TRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS Septe m be r 15 - N ove m be r 10, 2012

C o n te n ts foreword Haema Sivanesan 10

C u ratorial essays Makiko Hara 12 A n n a b e l Va u g h a n 1 8 Colin Browne 28 Am Johal 34

A rtists Raymond Boisjoly 38 Stan Douglas 44 Ali Kazimi 46 Va n e s s a K w a n 5 0 Evan Lee 54 Cindy Mochizuki 58

p h otos BC Electric Railway System Map 26 Installation 62 Archival 80

Notes Public Prog rams 92 Acknowledgements 94 Authors 96

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Fore word

To|From BC Electric Railway 100 Years is an exhibition that has been conceived to commemorate the centennial of the BC Electric Railway (BCER) Depot which, since 2005, has been the home of Centre A. The exhibition invites six artists, each of whom are variously invested in examining Vancouver’s complex history, to consider the impact of this building in defining the urban form and sociology of Vancouver. At the turn of the 20th century, the BCER was Vancouver’s main interurban transit route, connecting the port of Vancouver to New Westminster, creating a confluence of people, goods and ideas. But by the mid-20th century the interurban closed, and the significance of the BCER building faded from Vancouver’s collective memory. A sense of nostalgia and loss—the loss of history, memory and opportunity—underpin this exhibition, even as the exhibition addresses ideas of movement, change and reinvention. These concerns of the exhibition appear to characterize Vancouver’s ambivalence towards its past, potentially foreclosing a wider critical historical consciousness that could produce lessons for Vancouver’s future. In turn, these themes of the exhibition foreground Centre A’s own precarious rental situation. This is Centre A’s last exhibition in the BCER building. In commemorating the centennial of the BCER building, each artist reflects on various communities who have left their mark and legacy within the Downtown Eastside neighbourhood over the last 100 years. I wish to extend special thanks to the co-curators, Makiko Hara and Annabel Vaughan for their commitment to building a wider discussion regarding the BCER building and its significance to Vancouver’s history. Sincere thanks also to the artists: Raymond Boisjoly, Stan Douglas, Ali Kazimi, Vanessa Kwan, Evan Lee and Cindy Mochizuki for contributing to the reimagining of the BCER building as a site of inter-communal interaction and exchange. I also

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extend my appreciation to Colin Browne and Am Johal for their contributions to this publication. This exhibition is accompanied by an extensive series of public programs including, walking tours, film screenings and artist panels. I extend my thanks to the various speakers and panelists, and take this opportunity to invite all of you to attend, participate and reflect on one of a few historical buildings with the potential to evoke the ambience and spirit of Vancouver’s past. Lastly, I wish to extend special gratitude to our donors to this exhibition: The Audain Foundation, The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation, Jan and Mark Ballard, Elsie Jang, Joanne Louie Mah and Hugh Mah, The Michael O’Brian Family Foundation, and to our public funders—the Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, BC Community Gaming Grants and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs. Haema Sivanesan, Executive Director, Centre A

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Introduction

Displayed on the second floor of the BC Electric Railway (BCER) building are a series of framed historical documents of the BCER Interurban Depot, which the ground floor is the current home of Centre A. According to one of these documents, the very first interurban train and streetcar pulled into the depot on August 6, 1912, just a century ago. At the time, the City of Vancouver was only 26 years old, with a population of about 350,000 people. As the new centre of the booming logging and fishing industries, Vancouver was a mecca for workers from across Canada and new immigrants from Europe and Asia. Noted in these documents, the last train left from the BCER Depot to New Westminster at 1:30 a.m. on July 15, 1954. During the 42 years of its operation, it served as a busy hub, a waiting room and a social centre for over 50 million passengers. Soon after the interurban rail travel had ended, the building was sold and re-purposed. From the early 1960s to the 1980s, the grand ground floor of the BCER building became a branch of the Bank of Montreal. After the Bank of Montreal closed its doors, there was no clear archival record of how the building had been used for this historically important location, until Centre A moved in (2005). Similarly, there are few historic buildings that exists over 100 years in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), this includes the Chinese Times Building (1901), the Pennsylvania Hotel (1906) and the Sun Tower (1912), which are not acknowledged as cultural heritage buildings. Recent urban development has demonstrated that the heritage value of architecture is not highly respected in Vancouver, as indicated by the recent demolition of the Pantages Theatre, which was built in 1907 at 152 East Hastings Street, one block east of the BCER. At the time of its destruction in 2011, it was the oldest remaining vaudeville theatre in North America. Once a building is demolished people soon forget its existence. There are very few surviving documents of the history of the BCER building. Regardless of the significant role that the building played in the urban development of Vancouver in the first half of the last century, its history is incomplete and fragmented. When we researched the building and the interurban depot,

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we realized there is no existing coherent archive on this historically important building. Perhaps one of the reasons was that private owners owned the building for the past 100 years. Times have changed, and there are not many people who remember the terminal today, and the only way we can trace its history is to collect and patch these fragmented stories that individuals have carried over the time. In 2005, Centre A moved into the BCER building. Located in the DTES, the site and its sociopolitical context shaped Centre A’s artistic direction. The fall of 2005 marked Centre A’s first exhibition in the BCER Depot, it was titled, Neighbourhood, in which artists and social activist groups presented the complexity and rich histories of the place, our new neighbour, the Downtown Eastside. Over the last seven years, Centre A organized over 50 exhibitions with more than 350 artists in this location. Countless art projects and community gatherings have since taken place at this site. Each of them contributed stories to share with people, and engraved unforgettable histories in this place. During this time between 2006 to 2012, the DTES has become a heated subject of gentrification. With soaring real estate prices, many low-income residents, artists and social organizations have been forced to move out, while new affluent residents move in. Centre A has responded with exhibitions and public programs that have examined and addressed gentrification and its effect on the DTES: Show Room (2008), THTP/Phase Five/Oversight (2008), Another City (2009) and THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS IN ART (2011).1 TO|FROM BC ELECTRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS is to be considered as another perspective 1

SHOW ROOM, co-curated by Kristina Lee Podesva and Inge Roecker (http://www.centrea.org/index.cfm?go=site.index&section

=exhibitions&tag=archive&id=68), The THTP Project/Phase Five/Oversight with Wei-Li Yeh with Yu-Hsin Wu, guest curator, Amy Hueihua Cheng (http://www.centrea.org/index.cfm?go=site.index&section=exhibitions&tag=archive&id=67), Another City with Paul de Guzman, Masashi Ogura and Yoshihiro Suda, curated by Makiko Hara (http://www.centrea.org/index.cfm?go=site.index&section =exhibitions&tag=archive&id=74

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on the issue of change. On this occasion, co-curator Annabel Vaughan and I have invited six artists to consider the transformation of Vancouver through the history of the BCER Depot and its surrounding neighbourhoods. Through the eyes of six contemporary artists, TO|FROM is an exhibition that aims to create a contemporary patchwork of the history and social importance of the BCER building. The exhibition and its attendant programs re-imagine the 100-year histories of the building and its relationship to the surrounding neighbourhoods: Chinatown, DTES, Gastown, Hogan’s Alley, Japantown and Strathcona, collectively known as “Hasting Townside;” while also considering the extended areas served by the interurban and Fraser Line which was called the “milk-train,” which serviced between New Westminster and Chilliwack. This exhibition journeys us into the past 100 years of lives and landscapes of this young city. Importantly, it is an exhibition that encourages us to reflect on personal histories. For decades, Vancouver-born Stan Douglas has lived and worked in the DTES. He has produced numerous critically acclaimed artworks that address the political and historical context of Hastings Street and its surrounding neighbourhoods. These works include the politically loaded, Every Building on 100 West Hastings (2001) and the giant public art photo transparency installation in the public concourse of the new Woodward’s complex, Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971 (2008), which commemorates the Gastown hippy uprising. For TO|FROM, Douglas presents an excerpt from his work, Malabar People (2010), a set of 16 imaginary portraits of mid-20th century workers and patrons from Hastings Street nightclubs. Malabar People draws on the research of Laurence Douglas—a sociologist and Douglas’ uncle — who examines racial class structures and incomes of exotic dancers working the Granville and Hastings Street districts.2 Douglas has carefully constructed these portraits inspired by the descriptions in his uncle’s research. Malabar People portrays a racial mix of Vancouver’s entertainment working class in the 1950s — an Black musician, a South Asian nightclub owner/bartender to a working class Caucasian female. The work demonstrates the neighborhood’s diversity and provides a light into the kinds of people that may have used the BCER in the ‘50s. Evan Lee exhibits a work-in-progress, a study titled, Ocean Lady Migrant Ship Re-Creation Project. Here, the Vancouver-born and raised artist investigates a particular low-resolution press photograph of 2

“The Social System of a Vancouver Nightclub: An Illustration of a Method of Analysis of an Organisation - A Preliminary Study

of the Patterns of Interaction Prevalent in a Vancouver Nightclub,” (B.A. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1960) Laurence Douglas, a sociologist and Stan Douglas’ uncle, wrote in his theses about the racial class structure, and income between the strippers working in the Granville and Hastings Street districts.

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a 2009 event that took place off the south coast of BC. A group of Sri Lankan asylum seekers arrived in Canada by boat and were detained by the Canadian Coast Guard. Lee reconsiders the original newspaper image, re-creating the faces of the faceless Sri Lankan “boat people,” by manipulating photos found on Internet dating sites. This process makes the faceless real, revealing how we perceive refugees as anonymous people and don’t consider an individual’s motivation. This situation of systemic racism is not new, as illustrated in the Komagata Maru incident, where a group of South Asian immigrants arrived in Vancouver in 1914 and were turned away. This incident is described in Ali Kazimi’s film Continuous Journey (2004), and its accompanying montages. Resonating with Lee’s Ocean Lady Project, these two bodies of work remind us that although many things have changed over the past 100 years, attitudes towards new immigrants remain the same. These works also remind us that we are all immigrants living in Vancouver, unless we are of Coast Salish First Nations decent. Born in an isolated Chinese community in New Brunswick, Vanessa Kwan moved to Vancouver in her 20s. With curiosity and desire, she made an investigation titled, Vancouver Family, a project to seek out people in Vancouver who share her family surname, Kwan. The artist mailed out 300 postcards and received 51 responses back. Kwan is exhibiting these postcards for the first time in this exhibition. Although the 300 Kwans that the artist wrote to all share the same surname, they each have different histories and different reasons for being in Vancouver. The artist made five beautifully and carefully traced ink drawings of some of the letters that she received, to accompany a modest vitrine that displayed the 51 postcards. The artist’s small gesture connects all of Vancouver’s Kwans through this work. Moreover, it was a gesture that symbolically locates the artist in Vancouver. This work refers to the various seemingly insignificant everyday encounters that locate us to a place. Raymond Boisjoly made a new work for TO|FROM titled, Real Regret and Not Just Wishful Thinking, that is a response to a forgotten history of the “milk-train,” the interurban train that connected New Westminster to Chilliwack. Boisjoly was born and raised in Chilliwack, in an Aboriginal family. In the last century, Chilliwack was also the site of a residential school for First Nations children. Boisjoly’s new work is a poem, of his own words reflecting his “displacement” in languages that the artist inherited through complex and manipulated social and political histories. The shape of the text is written vertically and in red, responding to the shape of the “milk-train” that used to run along the Fraser Valley that carried hundreds of South Asian and Japanese farmers and their produce to Vancouver.

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The image was used in an installation “Panorama Series,” Cindy Mochizuki, 2012. Photographer unknown.

Boisjoly’s work recalls an old faded black and white photograph taken in the early 1940s of Cindy Mochizuki grandmother’s strawberry farm located along the Fraser Valley near Chilliwack. Like other Japanese Canadians, Mochizuki’s grandmother lost her farm during the Japanese internment. All that remains is this one small photograph and the stories that her family inherited. For TO|FROM Mochizuki creates a new installation titled, confections, made in collaboration with Japanese-Canadian seniors. The installation is an imaginary confectionary store. According to Kelty Miyoshi McKinnon’s essay, “Sugar,” published in Vancouver Matters (2008), during the 1930s to 1940s there were 19 confectionaries in Japantown (Nihonmachi),3 which none survived after World War II. One such confectionary store “Kasuga-kashiten” was located on 300 Cordova Street, where Sunrise Market is today, selling beautifully made luxurious and colourful sweet pastries and candies until the early 1940s, of which the artist discovered while she was researching stories for the Open Doors Project.4 Attracted by the photo’s modern store interior look and by the stories Japanese-Canadian seniors shared as the most memorable and favorite place for the children during the pre-war period, the artist collected further stories and recipes from them. In confections, the artist offers traditional pre-war Japanese sweets, like manju (red bean cake) to white

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“Sugar,” Kelty Miyoshi Mckinnon, Vancouver Matters, Blueimprint, 2008, p.131-143.

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The Open Doors Project is a public art project that Cindy Mochizuki was commissioned at the occasion of 75th anniversary of

Powell street Festival, co-presented by the Powell Street Festival Society, the National Nikkei Museum and Heritage Centre, the City of Vancouver and the Strathcona BIA in 2011. http://opendoorsproject.weebly.com

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“a dialogue and an opportunity for all of us to share our stories”

ginger candy, made by both the artist (who learned how to make them during the project) and the Japanese-Canadian seniors in the community. TO|FROM is an exhibition that opens a dialogue and an opportunity for all of us to share our stories about the BCER. There have been so many responses and feedback from communities who carry personal stories about the building and the station: an e-mailed photo sent to us of the railroad men in the late 1960s to a victorious protest story where a lady marched with children and friends to meet with Pierre Trudeau who was visiting Vancouver. A lot of visitors have shared their stories of immigration during the exhibition. Unfortunately, and ironically, TO|FROM is Centre A’s last exhibition in this space. However, the exhibition TO|FROM gave us a great opportunity to reflect on our own stories and memories that we engrave on this place collectively before we leave to our next adventure. A happy birthday, good-luck and good-bye BCER! Makiko Hara Curator, Centre A

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TO| FROM : ar ri v al s + de part u re s

The British Columbia Electric Railway (BCER) building has anchored the corner of Carrall and Hastings Street for 100 years. For 50 years it was the epicentre of a state of the art interurban transit system, moving thousands of people a day through the heart of a burgeoning city. In 1890, when the first streetcar ran down Hastings Street, Vancouver had a population of just over 13,000, over the next five decades the population boomed to almost 350,000. The corner of Carrall and Hastings Street became a bustling hub at the intersection of the suburban rail line and an extensive

Carrall Street building, 1925. Photographer unknown. BC Hydro Archive [C0017].

streetcar system that opened up the city and allowed for the development and exponential growth of the first neighbourhoods outside of the historic city centre—Kitsilano, Mount Pleasant, Cedar Cottage and Grandview Woodlands. In the 1950s, with the abrupt switch to electric trolley buses, a private business decision in line with the BCER Company’s goals to modernize the city1 and the 1

Ewert, Henry, The Story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company (Whitecap Books: North Vancouver, 1986), p. 35.

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subsequent creation of the public utility BC Hydro (facilitated by a government buyout in 1961) the corner at Hastings and Carrall became dormant.

B.C. Electric Railway Company logo, by J.D. Beatson, adopted 1915, BC Hydro Archives.

From its beginnings, the BC Gas Company, a family run business, was committed to the modernization of the province. The company was single handedly responsible for bringing gas, electricity and hydro to the province. Early business decisions were as much strategic and promotional as they were economic. Some decisions, like the introduction of the electric streetcar system, lost money for years, but their introduction helped to demonstrate (and sell) the progress and convenience that a modern invention (electricity) could offer a skeptical public.

The Electric Light Has No Flame

It consumes no oxygen and does not vitiate the air — therefore it does not cause or aggravate asthma, or other pulmonary diseases. Save your house plants, wallpaper and furnishings; Electricity will not injure them. Prevent fire and asphyxiation — Electricity does not leak, ignite or explode. IT IS EVERYTHING THAT IS BEST as a light. Up-to-date establishments and people of refinement use it.

BRITISH COLUMBIA ELECTRIC RAILWAY CO., LTD. [text from a Vancouver newspaper ad, 1902 or 1903] 19


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A news stand and coffee shop illuminated at night, 1937, photographer James Crookall. City of Vancouver Archives [CVA 260-783].

Additionally, the evening milk-run, which ran from Chilliwack to New Westminster and then into the Carrall Street depot, brought farm produce and milk into the city markets. Farm News, an inhouse publication, was a marketing tool used to sell the benefits of electricity to farm operators; the BCER was responsible for supplying the valley with electricity and modernizing farm life. Vancouver is a city of arrivals and departures; a port city, the “terminal” city, and for the majority of us it is not where we started out our lives. This was even more true when the streetcar system was introduced, Vancouver had a population of about 14,000 at the turn of the 20th century (a number that did not include the First Nations), all of whom had arrived from somewhere else. Vancouver has always thrived on ideas of mobility and transit, constantly reinventing itself and allowing multiple lives to be lived. The BCER Depot, while not as magnificent as some of the other station buildings in Vancouver, firmly established itself in the quotidian life of the city, the ridership on the system was in the millions years before the population reached 500,000. As a point of entry into the city, and subsequent departure, train stations take on multiple layers of significance; they become places associated with all of the optimism, trepidation and possibility of an unknown future. The architectural typology of station buildings reinforces these experiences, and situates these buildings into an individual’s cognitive map of the city—they become urban artifacts.2 Italian architect, Aldo Rossi, defined them as buildings that embody the history and form 2

Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City. MIT Press: Cambridge Massachusetts, 1984, p. 29.

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Ewert, Henry. T he Stor y of the B.C. Electric Railway Company. Whitecap Books: North Vancouver, British Columbia. 1986 illus. p 104.

of the city that act as agents for the transmission of the cultural memory of a place. Typically, station buildings are monumental and their interior spaces exist at the scale of the city, with large structural beams spanning open-air platforms that allow for a constant flow of people and trains to spill out into city streets. They are microcosms of the city—cosmopolitan hubs with newsstands and coffee shops, and all the buzz of arrival and departure. The BCER Depot building was no different, it straddles the site with four-foot deep I-beams across a platform and two sets of tracks, to the east large archways opened onto the street and to the west was the platform for the interurban which ran train lines along the CPR right of ways out to New Westminster, Burnaby and the Fraser Valley. The BCER Depot building sat at the cross roads of a number of migrant neighbourhoods such as Chinatown, Japantown (Nihonmachi) and Hogan’s Alley, and provided transportation for the predominantly Asian and South Asian farmers from the Fraser Valley, bringing produce into the city to sell at neighbourhood markets. The importance of such an extensive rail system on the immigrant population can only be surmised, but one can imagine that it linked a network of communities spread out across the lower mainland. The works included in the exhibition in TO|FROM engage this diversity drawing on art practices that explore the multiple histories of site and neighborhood exploring concepts of arrival and departure, transit, immigrant mobility and place. Place is used here in much the way Doreen Massey talks about it in her essay, “A Global Sense of Place.” In describing an occasional longing for

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coherence in our geographically fragmented times she writes, “…what gives a place its specificity is not some long internalized history but the fact that it is constructed out of a particular constellation of social relations, meeting and weaving together a particular locus…each ‘place’ can be seen as a particular, unique, point of their intersection…articulated moments in networks of social relations and understandings.”3 Collectively, the works shown elicits a sense of the cosmopolitan aspirations of Vancouver and the impact that private business decisions, like installing the interurban railway, had on diverse communities in the fledgling city. Raymond Boisjoly’s new work, Real Regret and Not Just Wishful Thinking, reflects the ongoing exploration of his own histories; using language (text), local place names and ephemeral images. His work slows time down and requires careful viewing to read the subtleties and poignancy in the contradictions exposed. Chilliwack, Boisjoly’s hometown and the last stop on the BCER’s Fraser Valley Line, was very likely used by the Canadian government to transport forcibly removed children from Haida Gwaii to their residential school in Sardis—the Coqualeetza Industrial Institution. Boisjoly plays with the inherent institutional contradiction of teaching Halq’eméylem, the language of the Stó:lo people, to a boy whose family is from Haida Gwaii. The excerpt shown from Stan Douglas’ work Malabar People explores the vibrant vaudeville club circuit that thrived in Vancouver, a scene that was directly linked to rail travel, nicknamed “show business railway,” it moved American performers up and down the Pacific coast.4 While the portraits themselves are of no individual in particular they resonate with the ambiguity of the construction of archetypes, they could be anyone. What is striking is their cosmopolitan presence that captures the potential and promise of a mid-20th century city. They buzz with the energy of the city, but also unmask a stark binary that existed in Vancouver, an east-west divide that was coincidently located at the site of the BCER Depot building, “non-white” activity was kept in the neighbourhoods on the eastside. Vanessa Kwan’s Vancouver Family, reworks ideas of how we find ourselves as we move location, the work contemplates notions of longing and family while trying to create meaningful ties in new locals. It verges on the sentimental but stops short of this by recognizing that we are constantly on the move, wishing we might still have somewhere else to go. By attaching her own experience to many Kwans the work demonstrates how “multiple identities can be a source of richness, or a source of conflict, or both.”5 The responses to her question were as varied as one would expect and 3

Doreen Massey, “A Global Sense of Place.” In Marxism Today (June 1991): p. 28.

4

Becky Ross and Kim Greenwell, “Spectacular Striptease Performing the Sexual and Racial Other in Vancouver, B.C. 1945-1975.”

In The Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 17 No.1 2005: p. 137. 5

Doreen Massey, p. 28.

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uncover the complexity of trying to locate oneself in a new locale. Evan Lee’s practice literally gives face to the displaced; refugees fleeing strife who arrive on our shores unexpectedly. The Migrant Ship Re-creation Project begins to construct an idea of who these people are, or might be, and helps to possibly dispel the myth of the Other while at the same time revealing the layers of disguise required to arrive in Canada. The piece included in TO|FROM is a work in progress but it continues Lee’s exploration of photography as an undefined and manipulated medium; one that allows for the re-crafting of events, which in turn brings attention to the complexities and racial undertones of how migrants are welcomed or turned back on our shores. The shipping crate in the middle of the gallery, with its digitally precise ship perched on top lingers with the possibility of an imminent arrival or departure. Lee’s work is shown in relation to Ali Kazimi’s film Continuous Journey, and the continued implication of stranding refugees and immigrants off Canadian shores. Continuous Journey pieces together the story of the Komagata Maru, a ship that arrived in Vancouver Harbour with 376 passengers aboard: 340 Sikhs, 24 Muslims and 12 Hindus. The film is an inquiry into the largely ignored history of Canada’s exclusion of the South Asians by a little known immigration policy called, “Continuous Journey Regulation of 1908.” Continuous Journey challenges us to reflect on contemporary events, and raises critical questions about how the past shapes the present. On April 1, 1949, four years after World War II ended, all the restrictions were lifted and JapaneseCanadians were granted the right to return to the West Coast and given full citizenship rights, including the right to vote and own land. But there was no home to return to. The JapaneseCanadian community in British Columbia was virtually destroyed. In the reconstruction of the interior of a Japanese confectionery (there were at least 19 shops in the surrounding neighbourhood prior to the internment in 1941), Cindy Mochizuki evokes the presence of a community displaced through political policy and fear. The installation and audio interviews in confections take us back in time, while starkly reminding us that in order to understand the Japanese presence in the contemporary city it must be restaged. Confections draws upon the diversity that co-existed and thrived in a young city. All of the works in TO|FROM, while contemporary in form, layer historic references and memories into the exhibition. This vacillation through time reveals the trepidation and contradictions of being new to a place. The work amplifies the BCER Depot and its implicated significance in providing an intersection for various communities in the growing city. Communities that were dealing with, and continue to deal with; post-colonial prejudices, racism and integration into the “multi-cultural” electric (“modern”) city.

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00 West Hastings Street south side, City of Vancouver Archives [CVA 779-E17.16] 1981.

The terminal building was made redundant in 1957, with BCER’s move to its new headquarters at Nelson and Burrard. From 1957–1991, as a branch of the Bank of Montreal, the BCER building faded into the background of the city. The grandeur of the interior space was hidden under drywall and dropped ceilings, ubiquitous aluminum storefront glazing closed off the platform from the street and cut off any potential for engagement with the neighbourhood. Since 2005, as a cultural hub, Centre A has been able to open up the building to the city once again, acting as a platform for discussion and intersection with diverse communities. Centre A has played a key role in the re-activation of this cultural intersection in the Downtown Eastside community. The exhibitions that have taken place over the past year have celebrated the building and the significance of its place in the cultural life of the city The BCER building continues to accumulate history, it is far from static. It is a product of layer upon layer of different linkages both local and global. As a hub moving millions of people a year it was a point of arrival and departure, a place that benefitted from a distinct mixture of wider and more local social relations. It has an understanding of its character as Massey writes; and exists as “a place where this very mixture together in one place produces effects which would not have

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Interior view of Centre A, Let’s Twist Again, 2010. Courtesy of Centre A.

happened otherwise.”6 The BCER building has become an “agent for the transmission of cultural memory”7 in this place we call Vancouver. Annabel Vaughan Graduate Architect, publicLAB RESEARCH + DESIGN

Bibliography 1. Ewert, Henry. The Story of the B.C. Electric Railway Company. Whitecap Books: North Vancouver, British Columbia. 1986. 2. Massey, Doreen. “A Global Sense of Place.” In Marxism Today (June 1991): p.24-29. 3. Ross, Becky and Greenwell, Kim, “Spectacular Striptease Performing the Sexual and Racial Other in Vancouver, B.C. 1945-1975.” In The Journal of Women’s History, Vol. 17 No.1 2005: p.137-164. 4. Rossi, Aldo. The Architecture of the City. MIT Press: Cambridge Massachusetts. 1984 (English translation of the original from 1966). 6

Ibid., p. 29.

7 Ibid., p. 29.

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Ma p o f t he BC E R sy st em , 1 9 2 1 Courtesy of BC Hydro Archives

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O ut O f T he S t re e t car, Endl e ssl y R o cki n g

Why is it so easy to swoon over streetcars—in particular, absent streetcars? In death they seem to have become symbols of a better time, a simpler, more graceful world. In Vancouver they were bright red, their windows had wooden frames and wherever their tracks were laid, rows of wooden houses sprang up for the city’s new immigrants. Like the movies, electric streetcars and Vancouver are the same age. For more than 60 years B.C. Electric Railway Company streetcars trundled through Vancouver and its larger interurbans journeyed out into the hinterlands: to Chilliwack and back with families and farm produce, to Richmond and back carrying workers to the greatest salmon river in the world. When the tracks were ripped up in the 1950s the streetcars and the interurbans were burned in a bonfire under the Burrard Bridge—a contractual Götterdämmerung in a city baptized by fire. No wonder they’ve taken on the aura of tragic conveyances. In my mind they seem to have been transformed into almost mythic chariots, rattling along rails that quickly became the arteries of a newly treeless city that at one time played an epic role in the world’s imagination—Canada’s Pacific Gateway—a destination for the capitalist, the worker, the remittance man, the war vet, the poet, the surréaliste. Vancouver was blessed by apparently limitless natural resources. Its outlying farms overflowed with poultry, berries, apples, corn and hops. Its rivers teemed with fish. In the Interior, cattle ranches approached the size of European nations. My British grandmother and her sisters spoke of B.C. as “God’s country,” and during the 1930s and 1940s they basked in its freedom and physical grandeur. They were proud of this province and its conservative political ideology, a pride unhindered by reflection or forethought. Of course, who wouldn’t be thrilled to be more or less handed parcels of land and buckets of food—as long as the previous custodians were safely disarmed and shuffled out of sight? 28


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Hastings Street east, near Columbia and Main, boarding carts for PNE, 1926, no. 9490B. BC Hydro Archive [A0029.3].

My grandmother had a British, rather than an American, idea of “West.” It was portrayed as a virginal young woman or a young farmhand in a stetson with his sleeves rolled up, which was appropriate given that the young men and women were, unwittingly, Britain’s crop. In Vancouver the streets were wide and confident-looking; gazing west on a summer evening was proof enough for my Gran that the sun would never set on the British Empire. The industrious province of British Columbia was destined for pioneers—for doers, not thinkers. My Gran had no time for unions or troublemakers like Sigmund Freud or Karl Marx. She saw herself not as a colonizer but as a woman taking up her birthright, and although she did not necessarily cultivate generalized ill will against others, in her mind most races clearly had a way to go to become civilized. The racial segregation she’d have found in the city during the first half of the century would have met with her approval. She’d have found nothing troubling in the narrator’s apparently laconic, unexamined description of life near Lytton, B.C., in Ethel Wilson’s 1947 novel, Hetty Dorval:

According to economic conditions in the big outside world,

ripples spread into this hinterland in the sage-brush, and

therefore one hired man left after the other to better himself

at the Coast, the girl went down to Vancouver to work in a

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restaurant, and my mother and father were left to cope as

best they could with the uncertain help of nearby Indians.

They had established a claim, years before, on the families of

Charley Joe and Joe Charley at the rancheree near Lytton,

and these unpredictable and uncapable youths came and

went. And then, perhaps some hired help came back again.1

If the truth be known, my Gran thought all men evasive and irresponsible, or, in her own words, they were “filthy beasts.” When I imagine a rider on the streetcar, I see her, clutching her bag firmly to her bosom with a look of high-minded disapproval on her face. Despite her husband’s psychological war wounds, she was a defender of the civilization that caused them, and the work ethic, the bourgeois morality and the monopoly capitalist ethos that built Vancouver. Her modest dress would have reflected her sense of civic responsibility. Annabel Vaughan has noted that my Gran was not alone in maintaining formality when it came to urban dress. Certain promotional photographs of the BC Electric Railway Depot at Hastings and Carrall promote an atmosphere of adult mystery and racy worldliness. The fedoras, suits and ties, smart shoes, coats and skirts, lend the building an air of noirish glamour that makes one think of Times Square. The company clearly wanted to promote a sense of sophistication and safety around the depot; most transit terminals are, after all, a nexus of loneliness and desperation. Publicity photos were naturally reluctant to reveal evidence of downtown streets the novelist Malcolm Lowry described in the late 1940s as lying “beneath the Malebolge.”2 How might one go about constructing a photographic portrait of a city a hundred years ago? What exists in civic archives is as often as not publicity material; who else was able to pay for photographers and cameramen but business and governments? It would seem that an exception might be found in the “phantom rides,” or simulated railway journeys, distributed and exhibited around the world by Hale’s Tours and Scenes of the World during the first decade of the 20th century. Filmed with a hand-cranked camera from the front of a moving railway engine, interurban or streetcar, these short motion picture travelogues were exhibited in cinemas built to resemble railway cars. A uniformed “conductor” took tickets and pointed to landmarks with a stick once the program began. Machinery was activated to create the impression that the “carriage” was jiggling along the tracks. In some early Hale’s Tours cinemas, fans were switched on to create the effect of speed. 1

Ethel Wilson, Hetty Dorval (Toronto: The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited, 1947), 9-10.

2

Malcolm Lowry, “Beneath the Malebolge lies Hastings Street” in Malcolm Lowry, The Collected Poetry of Malcolm Lowry, ed.

Kathleen Dorothy Scherf (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1992), 159. 30


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One of the surviving phantom rides, filmed by U.S. cinematographer William Harbeck in Victoria and Vancouver in May 1907, is instructive. Supported if not sponsored by the BCER, he recorded various streetcar journeys through the centre of each city and appears to have captured a spontaneous vision of the province’s prosperity. Unsurprisingly, you can see the Hale’s Tours franchise on the left as the camera moves west along Cordova Street past today’s Woodward’s development, an early example of self-reflexivity. Cinema audiences have always loved the illusion of being transported. Trains and streetcars were a fixture of the early movies, and the more thrills the better. The medium’s first showmen were as devoted to speed and danger as anyone producing a 3-D film today. On a closer inspection, the Harbeck film may be less spontaneous than it appears to be. In their conference paper, “Vancouver in 1907: A Case Study of Archival Film as a Source of Local History,” Janet Tomkins and Andrew Martin reveal that Harbeck was not above a little stagemanagement.3 On the morning he set out with his camera, four months to the day before Vancouver’s Asiatic Exclusion League riot, the News Advertiser served notice that “Mr. Harbeck would feel obliged if the stores en route would furl their awnings.” To heighten the interest, he invited the public to participate as extras in the mise en scene, the newspaper advising that, “Anyone who wishes to be taken in the picture should stand out in the streets as the car approaches or cross in front of it.”4 Harbeck filmed at noon to catch the lunch hour traffic. The next morning, the Province claimed that, “many prominent citizens were suddenly stricken with kinetoscopitis yesterday…the way that prominent citizens suddenly discovered that they had business on the other side of the street and strolled across sort of unconcerned like, when they saw the kinetoscope coming, was very amusing to those on the front of the car.”5 Perhaps only the dogs scampering across the street were oblivious to making a good impression. Vancouver’s first six electric streetcars set off on their inaugural runs on June 26th, 1890. Originally the BCER had planned to use horses, but the city convinced it to wait a few months until the lines could be electrified. The Depot was built at Hastings and Carrall in the heart of Vancouver. It was a splendid edifice, a traveller’s palace fit for a prosperous, growing city and a monument to the god Electricity. It was to be a temple commanding the border between servitude and freedom, between 3

Janet Tomkins and Andrew Martin, “Vancouver in 1907: A Case Study of Archival Film as a Source of Local History,” Durban:

World Library and Information Congress: 73rd IFLA General Conference and Council, 19-23 August 2007, revised 25/05/2007. 4

“Will Take Moving Pictures of Vancouver: Views of Business Section Will be Secured this Morning,” Vancouver News Advertiser, 7

May 1907:12. 5

“Many Citizens Will Figure on Screen: Moving Picture Views of City’s Business and Residential Sections Taken Yesterday –

Prominent Citizens Posed,” Vancouver Province, 8 May 1907:18.

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promise and consequence, between what was and what will be. At the same time, like all depots, it was also a temporary, if uncertain, shelter. In this it resembled a body. One must pass through it if one is to continue on one’s journey. Another structure asked to contain and redirect hope, temptation, sorrow and prayer is the cathedral, which a depot often resembles, and like a cathedral the depot straddles the border, simultaneously offering succour and threatening expulsion. One enters in hope or sometimes despair of transformation, placing one’s fate in the passage to come. The BCER Depot also existed on a cultural border. It was bounded to the west by colonizing capital and mostly Anglo-Saxon faces, to the north by the harbour with its ocean-going liners and freighters and to the south by the shacks and wharves of False Creek. To walk one block east was to encounter the city’s dividing line—Main Street—and Chinatown. If the Depot can be said to have possessed mythic stature, Chinatown was no less a mythic presence in some citizens’ fevered imaginations. Home to thousands of immigrants trying to make ends meet in a threatening atmosphere of fear and racial discrimination, Chinatown became, in the popular imagination, the city’s exotic Other, the fantasy of the transplanted bourgeois id. If the dominant culture saw itself in terms of whiteness, purity, discipline, self-reliance, independence, patriotism, duty and self-control, it projected onto Chinatown the contraries of darkness, mystery, idolatry, nepotism, addiction, depravity, immorality and lawlessness. Chinatown had a reputation for the fulfilment of illicit desires, although the city’s bootleggers and brothels thrived outside its borders. As a projection of Vancouver’s unconscious, Chinatown was often idealized as having the potential to effect transformation. This idea is developed rather compassionately, although not without clichés, in Ethel Wilson’s 1954 novel, Swamp Angel. The central character, Maggie Vardoe, lives on Capitol Hill in Burnaby; her windows gaze out across Burrard Inlet and the Lion’s Gate Bridge. She’s married to a selfish, domineering oaf named Edward and when we encounter her she has arranged to slip out the back door as soon as he has eaten his evening pudding. Waiting for her in the dark lane outside is a “Chinese taxi.” 6 Its driver is Joey, the ferryman who will carry her to freedom. Maggie, who ties fishing flies, had recruited Joey while shopping in Chinatown for peacock feathers.7 Attracted by its markets, she finds Chinatown to be unknowable—which is to say, at the mercy of her desperate imagination—and peopled by inscrutable Chinamen: “…when she saw the names Gum Yuen, Foo Moy, Jim Sing, Hop Wong, Shu Leong, which now came vaguely into her 6

Ethel Wilson, Swamp Angel (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited/New Canadian Library, 1962), 21. Swamp Angel, Wilson said in the mid-1950s, “I don’t know how it originated except that I love fly-fishing which is a marvelous

7 Of

thing in life, unique in the deep communion of the senses and rich in contemplation and memory; it is all that.” Mary McAlpine, The Other Side of Silence: A Life of Ethel Wilson (Madeira Park, B.C.: Harbour Publishing Co. Ltd., 1988), 196.

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mind as in a picture taken up and put down, those syllables ravished her as with scents and sounds of unknown lives and far places. Hemmed in between two squat and aged grey wooden houses was a small shabby building not unlike a church, whose open door showed, so early, a small bulb of light in a dark hall within. A shrivelled Chinaman, leaning on a stick, walked along a duckboard approach, took his immortal soul inside, and vanished.”8

The family lived in harmony from morning till night and slept in

harmony from night till morning. When one of the older boys

returned quietly from taking his shift as despatcher or driver and

poked another boy who woke sleepily, got up, pulled on trousers

and a sweater and went downstairs to sit by the telephone or to

drive, the family did not waken, although the Mother never failed

to be vaguely aware of what was going on among her children,

what with the partitions that did not go up as far as the ceiling.9

Tellingly, Maggie’s Chinatown seems to possess its own contraries, perhaps the inverted contraries of her own unhappily married life. This allows her to ask Joey if he might like to go into business with her after she gets settled. She’s longing for balance, and seeks the harmony that she imagines Joey might bring her: “His face, she thought, had not a secret look. She thought that she understood him and that East and West blended in him in a way that seemed open to her. Perhaps he was now more Canadian than Chinese. By certain processes he was both.”10 One is never entirely sure what “Canadian” means. It’s a fluid identity, which may be a blessing, although it’s also a condition of becoming constrained. Genuine transformation, the collapsing of the divided world, involves trespass, the crossing of borders, and is the heart’s ongoing destination. The heart longs to aim for this destination, be it aboard an interurban to Warwhoop or in a taxi driven by a Chinese-Canadian boy. Its journey will have a physical terminus, but the true port of call is elsewhere. The borders have always been within. Colin Browne Professor, School for the Contemporary Arts, Simon Fraser University

8 Wilson, 9

Swamp Angel, 24.

Ibid., 42..

10

Ibid., 27.

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A l l T hat I s A i r M e l t s I n t o S o li d At the corner of Carrall and Hastings Street, the original BC Electric Railway (BCER) Company building is one of the most distinctive heritage buildings in Vancouver. In its original usage as the terminus for the interurban railway line, it employed 300 people. It was also the switching station where the streetcars would change tracks. Prior to the building being constructed, on May 7, 1907, William Harbeck, an American from Seattle, attached a film camera to the front of an interurban railway car and shot a film that lasted six minutes—it’s the oldest known film that exists of Vancouver. The found footage is a window into what a sustainable city might look like. There is only one parked car that can be seen in the film. Prior to the construction of the BCER building, Vancouver was a city undergoing rapid growth. Between 1901-1910, the population expanded from 27,000 people to 100,000. The unfortunate closing of the interurban line in the ‘50s was a modernist intervention that set back transportation planning for decades. It is rare for a building to be 100 years old in Vancouver. All around it, decisions on land use over the past century mask the power relations at work. In his set of lectures from the ‘70s entitled, “Society Must Be Defended,” French theorist Michel Foucault posed a set of questions: “Can war serve as an analyzer of power relations? Must war be regarded as a primal and basic state of affairs, and must all phenomenon of social domination, differentiation, and hierarchicalization be regarded as its derivatives? Do processes of antagonism, confrontations, and struggles among individuals, groups or classes derive in the last instance from general practices of war?” Foucault cleverly inverted Clausewitz’ maxim to ask if it might be possible that “politics is the continuation of war by other means.”1 1

Michel Founcault, Society Must Be Defended. Picador, 1997: p.15.

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The urbanization process in Vancouver and, by extension, those who govern and influence the rules of the game, lost their interest in building and defending a commons some time ago. Without election spending limits in the city throughout the 20th century right through to the present, land use planning morphed from a legitimate public policy process into a capital driven distortion. Since the city regulates land use, the open market for campaign financing distorts democratic procedures and, by extension, city planning processes. Ultimately, what gets lost is what matters in democratic life—a sense of deliberation and balance, a chance to be legitimately heard, the inclusion of voices on the periphery. In such a process, even good people end up making terrible decisions, which, over time, disrupt the city and make it unrecognizable and less livable. It is a gesture of control that functions as repetition. There is an immaturity to urban public policy in Vancouver that is a result of the privileged status that the real estate development industry has in Vancouver. In the Vancouver real estate game, marketers, architects, developers and urban planners construct a language that is not unlike plastic surgeons trafficking in augmented desire. Architects think of themselves as artists even though they are immersed in this great game. There is grotesque animation and ventriloquism at play. In development industry parlance, condominiums are simply known as “product.” The motor of history moves on. The rhythm of civic history has the cadence of a bad poem. An old story reveals itself again and again. Like Nietzche’s notion of the eternal return, the names and characters of the game may change, but substantively, events repeat themselves. The aura of the development spectacle has yet to fade, but it is already outdated. As the Occupy movement demonstrated, political action still has the capacity to create a rupture—as an attempt to break from the dialectic; it leaves a trace of the politics to come. In a recent visit to Vancouver, Miloon Kothari, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and an architect by training said, “The other problem that I see—that is very true in Vancouver—is that even the solutions that are being proposed are market solutions. [For example] making it possible for developers to set aside a certain amount of affordable housing or playing with developer costs. Market solutions don’t work because the people that control the market are interested in profits and they don’t consider it their responsibility to help people that cannot afford to own. Market solutions also don’t work because then the state abrogates its own responsibility. The scale of the problem is such that unless the state directly intervenes the problem is not going to go away…Vancouver is a very good example where you have very serious problems

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that should have been addressed a long time ago, but have not.”2 Capital is a bubble. Capital makes and remakes the city by weaving its own stories, inventing its own fabrications in its myth-making machine—it erases that which came before it with a ruthless brutality. It provides a kind of intellectual cover for vacuous lifestyle politics. Capital is a performance of beautiful destruction, which selectively co-opts and instrumentalizes everything in its path. Capital moves without consideration of its impacts, and renders meaningless an open relationship to space. Stand on the side of “progress” or get out of the way—that is its moral stance. Capital has totalitarian tendencies. In the political imaginary of everyday life, there used to be a political space for thinking about what kind of city we want, about people from different incomes being able to live in the same city. We have produced a city where many people are clinging on, just getting by—often putting their groceries on their credit cards. Over 55,000 households in Metro Vancouver are living a precarious existence from paycheque-to-paycheque. How does one have a relationship with space that is tangible, tactile and meaningful, let alone imagine the possibility of spatial justice? In the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, which was once the vibrant centre of the city, successive public policy failures, largely beginning in the 1950s, led to economic divestment. After World War II, the locus of downtown began to slowly shift towards Robson, Georgia and Granville Street. The neighbourhood was then known as skid road. Fifty years of selective policing policies created a state of exception in every sense of the term in the Downtown Eastside. In the 1960s, as the suburbs and other city neighbourhoods resisted the expansion of a number of social services, the neighbourhood dealt with successive crises and waves of policy reforms. The Downtown Eastside Residents Association formed in the early 1970s and set the boundaries of the neighbourhood from Cambie Street to Clark Drive, from Prior and Venables Streets to the water. This was a map that neither the city’s planning department nor the City Council ever accepted or recognized. Since the ‘70s each decade brought its own traumas and public policy experiments, which had mixed results. These factors, coupled with downloading from all three levels of government over three decades saw intense community organizing. The impacts of the residential school system were never addressed in any adequate sense. De-institutionalization of mental health facilities in the Metro Vancouver region between the mid-‘80s and mid-‘90s was poorly managed and exacted 2

The Tyee online journal, July 9, 2012 (http://thetyee.ca/News/2012/07/09/UN-Homeless-Investigator). 36


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a devastating human toll. Mega events like Expo ‘86 and the 2010 Olympics exacerbated and accelerated development paths in the inner-city and were directly implicated in renovation based evictions in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels. As a result, political struggle is a hallmark of this neighbourhood. It has been the birthplace of social movements for much of the 20th century. Community assets like social housing projects, Pigeon Park Savings, Carnegie Community Centre and Insite were fought for and won through grassroots organizing. Dozens of legislative changes originated through community mobilization. As the downtown peninsula condo-ized, the violent and sudden flow of capital through the innercity has led to intense speculation, moving in from both the west and the eastside of the city. There has been a sustained capital re-alignment occurring for some time now. A radical alterity that functions with effectiveness, outside the state, but at the level of real power, has yet to carve out a legitimate political space in Vancouver. There is a need for a movement from outside the frame that exceeds the old dialectic with a new affirmation. The ethical space begins with an immersive exposure to alterity, with and alongside those who are directly affected by regressive urban policies. Urban geopolitics functions in the field of spatial war. In the rhythms of civic life, vacuums get filled. The city, even in its worst moments of urban revanchism, is a staging ground for possibility. Even now, an affordability insurgency is waiting to be born. In a recent lecture, French philosopher Alain Badiou asked, “What is a change? What is a true change? What is a false change? What is a change in society? What is a change in forms?” To paraphrase Badiou, for a true change to occur the subject must disrupt the civic order as such from outside the state, and its rules of the game that create a repetition of history on the side of power. He argues for an authentic and affirmative struggle against false change — a return to the good repetition — the good life inside the repetition. It is a struggle against subjective change, a struggle against the false change of the subject. Politics is war by other means. It requires a fidelity to the struggle that begins with the question, “What kind of city do we want?” Am Johal Writer and Vancity Office of Community Engagement, Simon Fraser University

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Going back up, Chilliwack 38


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R

ay

B

o

i

mo s

j

o

n l

d y

These two works concern my hometown of Chilliwack, BC, a town roughly 100 km from Vancouver. While I was in grades seven to nine, Aboriginal students were given brief instruction in Halq’eméylem, the language of the Stó:lo people. Any knowledge I may have gained from this instruction has encountered the same fate as my knowledge of French. While my parents moved to Chilliwack in the early 1980s, a number of family members attended the residential school in Sardis, just south of the highway, in the early- to mid-20th century. How did they get there, how long was their travel, how long was their stay?

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Raymond Boisjoly is an Aboriginal artist of Haida and Québécois descent from Chilliwack, BC. Using various conceptual and technical strategies, his practice engages issues of Aboriginality, language and materiality. Boisjoly combines an invested interest in text-based works with a black metal aesthetic. Raymond’s work has been exhibited in group exhibitions nationally and internationally: Vancouver Art Gallery (2012 and 2009), Presentation House (2012), The Power Plant in Toronto (2012) and Western Bridge in Seattle (2012). Raymond lives and works in Vancouver and is currently a sessional instructor at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. www.raymondboisjoly.com

Previous page T he Writing Lesson: Chilliwack, 2011, sunlight, construction paper, Plexig las, 24” x 20”. This Page 6336 Vedder Rd, Chilliwack, BC V2R 1C8, 2012, sunlight, construction paper, Plexig la, 24” x 20”.

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sta n

d o u g las

Malabar People Douglas’s Malabar People series offers an interesting case study in aesthetic sociology. The primary source and inspiration for these sixteen artistic portraits lies in an actual piece of sociological research, “The Social System of Vancouver Nightclub” written by the artist’s uncle, Laurence F. Douglas. This organizational analysis reviews the social relations and “the patterns of interaction prevalent in a Vancouver nightclub.”1 Laurence Douglas’s code name for this nightclub in the thesis is the Malabar and the author proceeds to offer a thoroughgoing investigation and systematic analysis of this local establishment and how it functions as an entertainment provider. The essay offers a variety of insights on such topics as social organization, deviant behavior and race and ethnic relations. In transforming this sociological treatise into artistic practice, Douglas imagines what would have happened if his midcentury photographer had visited the Malabar in 1951 and had taken studio portraits of some of the key members inhabiting this subculture. One can think of these portraits as constituting an ideal typology, with one-half of them devoted to the patrons frequenting this establishment and the other half devoted to those working at the nightclub. Laurence Douglas refers to the entertainers of the Malabar as “singers, comedians, female impersonators, dancers and drummers.”2 Meanwhile, Stan Douglas focuses on four of them in his portrait series—a bandleader, a musician, a female impersonator, and a dancer. One of the most striking things about Malabar People is the ethnic and racial diversity of its subjects. The nightclub as a source of entertainment functions as a social magnet, attracting people from many walks of life as well as from diverse backgrounds. The leisure activities of music and dance forge a loose community of various social and ethnic types who normally would not meet anywhere else. Both the clientele and the employees are not at all reflective of the dominant model of AngloCanadian identity constituted by white English-speaking Protestants of that era. 1

Laurence Douglas, “The Social System of a Vancouver Nightclub: An Illustration of a Method of Analysis of an Organisation – A

Preliminary Study of the Patterns of Interaction Prevalent in a Vancouver Nightclub” (B.A. Thesis, University of British Columbia, 1960). 2 Ibid

p.13.

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In a sense, this heterogeneous group of people anticipates the contemporary multi-cultural model of Canadian identity. As Laurence Douglas specifies, “The social system of the Malabar is comprised of persons who are members of several ethnic groups. Thus the owner-manager is an East Indian, his wife is White, his employees are native Indians, Whites, Negroes and East Indians, and his customers present this same picture of ethnic differentiation.”3 Douglas’s photographs have translated this “picture of ethnic differentiation” from sociological study to portrait studio and added a few more ethnically diverse representatives along the way. For instance, while the thesis does not mention any Chinese employees at the Malabar, Douglas portrays the Bouncer, 1951, as a Chinese-Canadian male in his thirties. Given the fact that the Malabar was “located in the East End of Vancouver on the fringe of the area popularly known as Chinatown,4 this casting choice does not seem fanciful at all. The standard format of the composition of these photographs also creates an equalizing tendency for the people who have the Malabar in common. It does not matter whether we are looking at Waitress I, 1951 or West-Side Lady, 1951. In either case, the female subject stands and directly faces the camera lit by two spotlights, against a black backdrop. There is nourish atmosphere to this series that bathers these figures in deep shadows except for a few highlights that bring out the foreheads and cheekbones of the Malabar People. These nocturnal portraits typically leave the eyes in mystery. Such subdued lighting typically leave the eyes in mystery. Such subdued lighting verging on darkness alludes to the fact that these portraits are of people who are associated with a nightclub, and a “specialized deviant sub-culture”5 engaged in a number of activities (e.g., bootlegging drugs, prostitution) that do not care to see the light of day. As Laurence Douglas writes: “In treating deviant behavior, the Malabar is regarded as a delinquent social system, a ‘protest organization’ in which the management has instituted some illegitimate practices in order to maintain the establishment as an ongoing system and has given tacit approval of some others.”6 In contrast to this description, as idealizing remakes and double takes the stylized portraits stress dignity over delinquency. This text is an excerpt (pages 28-31) from Louis Kaplan, “Entertaining Stan Douglas’s Photographic Remakes and Double Takes,” in Melanie O’Brian, ed., Stan Douglas: Entertainment (Toronto: Power Plant Pages, 2011). Courtesy of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery (Toronto) and Louis Kaplan. Text Copyright: © Louis Kaplan. 3

Ibid p.116.

4

Ibid, According to Stan Douglas, “Malabar is a pseudonym, probably for the New Delhi Café.” Stan Douglas to Melanie O’Brian,

e-mail, 26 August 2011. 5

Ibid p.125.

6

Ibid p.13.

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Stan Douglas is a Vancouver-based artist. Since the late 1980s, Douglas has created films, photographs and installations that re-examine particular locations or past events. Douglas has had numerous solo and group exhibitions at prominent institutions worldwide. Recent solo exhibitions have taken place at Studio Museum in Harlem in New York (2005), Centre Pompidou in Paris (2007), and Staatsgalerie Stuttgart and Württembergischer Kunstverein in Stuttgart (2007). He has been included in recent group exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC (2008), the Guggenheim Museum in New York (2010) and the The Power Plant in Toronto (2012). His work is represented by David Zwirner Gallery in New York. www.davidzwirner.com/artists/stan-douglas

Previous page Malabar People: Bandleader, 1951, 2010, digital fiber print mounted on Dibond aluminum, 40” x 30”, edition of 5. this PAGE Malabar People: Bouncer, 1951, 2010, digital fiber print mounted on Dibond aluminum, 40” x 30”, edition of 5. All images are Courtesy the artist and David Zwir ner, New York.

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ali

ka z imi

Continuous Jour ney

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People have wondered why I wanted to tell the story of the Komagata Maru.“It is a Sikh story,” they say, “and you are Muslim, aren’t you?” I tell them, “I grew up in Delhi believing in the ideal of a secular, democratic India.” Having lived more than half my life in Canada, I am committed to the idea of building a pluralistic, inclusive and just society here. Even though I did not have relatives aboard the Komagata Maru, the story has become a part of my life. I spent eight years making a documentary film about the Komagata Maru called, Continuous Journey and then two years on a book, Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru. This work gave me the opportunity to shed some light on this so-called “dark chapter” in Canada’s history. Researching the history helped me to find my place in the Canadian landscape and to feel at home on Canadian soil. I see the turning away of the Komagata Maru in 1914, as a transformative moment not just for Canada but also for British India and the British Empire. The challenge for the film was the very limited visual material that existed. I did not want to nor did I have the means to do dramatic recreations. I chose to recreate my own imaginary “archival compositions” by utilizing animated collages, with images drawn from a variety of archival still and moving images. This page Rush Confidential, 2012, light-jet Kodak archival photo on mounted acid free vinyl, 32” x 16”. left page Provisions, 2012, light-jet Kodak archival photo on mounted acid free vinyl, 32” x 16”.

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I was intrinsically comfortable with this technique, I did not shy away from showing the degraded materiality of the images. Upon reflection, I realized that I had grown up in a visual culture in India, that used visual collages every where from school notebook covers, to Indian cinema billboards to religious posters. The four images exhibited are not just frame grabs from the film, but are in turn recreations of some of the frames. Each frame encapsulates a specific episode during the Komagata Maru’s detention. They are drawn from the film but the change in medium has resulted in necessary modifications. I have chosen to retain the widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio and ironically the ratio of the frames themselves 4:3 corresponds to the now obsolete standard television screen ratio. The turning away of the Komagata Maru from Vancouver not only underscores the colonial links between Canada and South Asia it exemplifies the differences between settlers and racialized immigrants. The absence of those who could not land from the Komagata Maru and other ships like that might have followed haunts Canada’s shores.

Certain Conspiracy, 2012, light-jet Kodak archival photo on mounted acid free vinyl, 32” x 16”.

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Ali Kazimi is an India-born, Canadian filmmaker, author and visual artist who has been in Canada since 1983. His films address a wide range of social, political and historical issues. Kazimi’s films have won over 30 national and international awards, honours include: Continuous Journey (The Ram Bahadur Trophy for the Best Film of the Festival South Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal 2005), The Colin Low Award for the Most Innovative Canadian Documentary (DOXA Film and Video Festival, Vancouver 2005), and Runaway Grooms (The Donald Brittain Award for Best Social/Political Documentary, Gemini Award 2006). He is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Faculty of Fine Arts at York University. Ali Kazimi’s first book, Undesirables: White Canada and the Komagata Maru - An Illustrated History was published May 2012. He is currently working on Searching For Silas based on a Chinese-American family’s home movies and setting up the Stereoscopic 3D La at York. www.undesirables.ca

Proceed Immediately, 2012, light-jet Kodak archival photo on mounted acid free vinyl, 32” x 16”.

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kwa n

va n essa

V a n c o u v e r

F a m i l y

2003/2012 Almost 10 years ago, I sent a package to all the Kwans in Vancouver (there are 300 of them). In a letter written in both Chinese and English I asked each Kwan to consider the question, “Is there a place you’d like to go, but have never been?” and write their response on a postcard that I included (paid postage) and send the postcard back to me. Of the 300, I received 51 responses, ranging from brief (“Africa”) to poetic (“I have never been to Egypt where pyramids line the skyline and dust roams the pathways”). The image on the front of the postcard is a picture of where I lived at the time. Since then, the postcards have sat in a box in my cupboard, moving every time I did. I’ve never shown the work before. I always thought the piece was naïve, evidence of a younger artist testing out the limits of what art was, what could be done outside the gallery. Looking at it now, though, I see how honest my impulses were, and the generosity of their responses in return. I feel a protectiveness around these small correspondences; they are by no means evidence of a strong connection with some nebulous community of “Kwans,” but they are precious in their fuzzy familiarity — like old pictures of relatives you never knew. Vanessa Kwan August 2012

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“they are precious... like old pictures of relatives you never kne w.�

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Vanessa Kwan is a Vancouver-based artist and programmer. Her work has been exhibited at a number of galleries and artist-run centres. Kwan’s solo exhibitions include: Your Private Sky at the Or Gallery (2005) and at the Art Gallery of the South Okanagan (2005), and The Storm and the Fall at Access Artist Run Centre (2008). Recent public art commissions for the City of Vancouver include Vancouver Vancouver Vancouver (2010) and Geyser for Hillcrest Park (2012, with Erica Stocking). She is a founding member of the arts collective Norma, who received a Mayor’s Art Award for Public Art (2011). She currently works as interdisciplinary arts programmer at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and as melancholic proprietor of Sad Sack, a soon-to-be-in-existence moveable event space. www.vanessakwan.com

Previous, left and This page Vancouv er Famil y, 2001, pap er and ink, 4” x 6”.

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eva n

lee

Ocean Lady Migrant Ship Re-creation Project

One consistent aspect of my practice has been to critically consider the photograph and transform it into something new and unique that reflects back on the world it came from. For this project, I am looking closely at a widely circulated press photograph of a recent event that took place off the south coast of British Columbia with the intention to re-create it as an artwork. In 2009, Canadian authorities seized the MV Ocean Lady in the waters near Victoria, BC, and detained its crew and passengers who undertook a dangerous journey from Sri Lanka to escape hardship and persecution and to seek asylum in Canada. There has been massive public debate and speculation over the legality of their claims and the practice of human smuggling, and a climate of xenophobia has developed amidst accusations of immigration “queue-jumping” and fears of terrorism. The Ocean Lady event highlights the complexities and challenges of immigration and its history in Canada, some of which were experienced directly by my family and friends. At our nation’s Pacific ports, this was preceded by the arrival of the Fujianese migrants in 1999, the MS St. Louis in 1939, the SS Komagata Maru in 1914, and continued with the more recent arrival of the MV Sun Sea.

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The extensive media coverage of the Ocean Lady story was frequently accompanied by a particular low- resolution, digital aerial photograph that depicted the passengers (faces pixilated) on the deck of the ship waving and calling out to the approaching RCMP helicopter. I found this photograph very compelling and powerful despite (or perhaps because of) its lack of quality and information. It is an example of what I view as a decline in the aesthetic value of journalistic photography towards the utilitarian and inartistic; it is the result of the evolution of imaging technology and our passive acceptance of it. This photograph, along with the conditions of its production and consumption, is a critical point of entry that forms the basis of my inquiry into the larger subject of migration. This project re-imagines and re-creates the event that this photograph depicts, aided by research and a combination of photography and 3D digital modelling. As with much of my previous work, my starting point is the found photograph, which I have re-purposed and experimented upon, expanding and transforming its content. Elements of fiction have been incorporated to fill in the gaps left in the original photograph.

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Evan Lee was born 1975, in Vancouver, BC. Lee’s experimental work over the past 15 years critically reflect on photography’s recent technical and social evolutions. More recently, he has been looking closely at how these changes have taken effect in the media, and consequently, how if affects our attitudes towards images and ideas. Lee received his MFA from the University of British Columbia (2000). Lee’s exhibitions include: On the Nature of Things at the Kamloops Art Gallery, Again and Again and Again and In Dialogue with Carr at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Triumphant Carrot: the Persistence of Still Life and Playing Homage at the Contemporary Art Gallery, PHANTASMAGORIA

Previous page Reference photog raph of names painted on ship’s hull. Courtesy of the artist.

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and Evan Lee Captures at Presentation House Gallery, Le Mois de la Photo à Montreal and At Play at the Liu Hai Su Museum in Shanghai. Lee’s work has been featured and reviewed in Border Crossings, Flash Art International, Lapiz International Art Magazine, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, Canadian Art, Art on Paper and Pyramid Power. Lee has been a sessional faculty member at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and in the Department of Fine Arts at UBC. Lee is represented by Monte Clark Gallery in Vancouver and Toronto. http://evanlee.ca

this page Reference photog raph of a seized mig rant ship, Annacis Island, Delta, BC, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.

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ci

n

dy

moc h i z u ki

As early as the 1880s, small Japanese businesses existed in Vancouver that catered primarily to the floating labourers along the Powell Street area. The Japanese moved into this area and were gainfully employed working in sawmills, gardening, domestic and hotel service and nearly half were involved in commercial enterprise.1 Before World War II, this area known as Japantown or Nihonmachi, a concentrated area of Japanese activities including grocery stores, restaurants, cafes, lodging houses, dry goods shops, bathhouses, fish markets and specialty stores like the confectionary shops that sold specialty Japanese sweets. In 1942, over 20,000 Japanese Canadians were forcibly dispersed and uprooted from their homes and lost possession of their businesses and properties to be sold without consent by the Canadian government.

1

Ken Adachi. A History of the Japanese Canadians The Enemy That Never Was An Account of the deplorable treatment inflicted on Japanese

Canadians during World War Two. Mclelland & Stuart, 1976 .Toronto, Ontario. p.50 and 131.

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c o n f e c t i o n s “This area known as Japantown or Nihonmachi”

Confections is a new and ongoing project that reworks the memory and history of the abundant confectionary shops and kashitens available in the bustling Powell Street area blocks away from the B.C. Sugar Refinery.2 As of 1941, there were at least 19 Japanese confectionaries, bakeries, and senbei-ya that were found along Powell, Hastings, Gore, Dunlevy, Alexander and Main Street. The installation attempts to re-create and bring forth a site of memory; an interior of a space and time of nostalgic handmade confectionary that has now disappeared. The installation includes audio interviews with those that grew up in and around the Powell Street area and the creation of specialty Japanese sweets with members of various Japanese Canadian community groups that presently still continue the culinary tradition. Confections continues the research and memory work that was explored through the Open Doors Project, a series of historic panels presented as a graphic memoir found at the storefront of businesses presently occupying the Powell and Jackson Street area. The panels reflect the history of the Japantown area through the documentation of the businesses and shops that existed before and after the war.

2 “Sugar,”

Kelty Miyoshi Mckinnon. Vancouver Matters. Blueimprint, University of British Columbia, 2008. p.133.

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Cindy Mochizuki is an interdisciplinary artist with a practice that moves across drawing,

several

forms

animation,

including multi-media,

collaborations and performance. She is interested in the place between the documentary and the imagined; often integrating archival materials and interviews through the process of her work.

Her short films have

been screened in Holland, Korea, Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto. Her most recent exhibitions and performances include: Mรถrkรถ at the Russian Hall (2012), Yo-In Reverberation at the National Nikkei Museum & Cultural Centre (2012), and Lost Secrets of the Royal commissioned by LIFT and the Toronto Reel Asian Film Festival at Blackwood Gallery (2011). She is a sessional instructor at Emily Carr University and holds a MFA from Interdisciplinary Studies from Simon Fraser University. www.cindymochizuki.com

T his page A portrait of Hatsuye Yamake in the K asug a K ashiten at 359 Powell Street Vancouver, BC part of Yamake Family Fonds circa 1935. Courtesy of the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre.

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T O| FR O M BC E L E C TRIC RAILWAY 100 YEAR S

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B C

E l ec t r i c

A n

I n ter u rba n

80

R a i l w a y D e p o t


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arc h

i

val

ima

g

es

01.

Carrall Street building, 1920s. BC Hydro Archive [C0011].

02.

British Columbia Electric Depot - Carrall and Hastings. January 13, 1939. Photographer Leonard Frank. VPL 15714.

03.

The Tram News Stand and Coffee Shop illuminated at night in the B.C. Electric Building at 425 Carrall Street. Photographer James Crookall. City of Vancouver Archives, AM640:CVA 260-778, 1937.

04.

Streetcar just east of Main Street on Hastings looking west, showing traffic on left hand side of the road, 1913. BC Hydro Archive [A0003]. 90


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05.

Bus stop on Carrall near Hastings, 1961. Photographer Stanley Triggs. VPL 85766i.

06.

Hastings Street, Vancouver showing BC Electric sign, 1920s. BC Hydro Archive [C0010].

07.

1920s Untitled, undated, (Carrall Street Building at night). Photographer unknown. BC Hydro Archive [C0008].

08.

Carrall Street building, decorated for royal visit of Princess Elizabeth, 1951. BC Hydro Archive [C0030.3]. 91


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p u blic

p r o g rams

exhibition September 15 to November 10, 2012 Artists: Raymond Boisjoly, Stan Douglas, Ali Kazimi, Vanessa Kwan, Evan Lee & Cindy Mochizuki Co-curators: Makiko Hara and Annabel Vaughan Walking Tours Saturday, September 15, 2012 Curators walking tour with Makiko Hara and Annabel Vaughan. Friday, September 28 and Saturday, September 29, 2012 A walking tour by Gallery Docents. Part of Culture Days in Canada.

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Film Screenings Saturday, October 20, 2012 Continuous Journey (2004) by Ali Kazimi (83 mins) Artists conversation to follow with Ali Kazimi and Evan Lee, moderated by Haema Sivanesan. Saturday, November 3, 2012 Interurban: An evening of archival films and stories with Colin Browne, Professor, SFU School for the Contemporary Arts, and composer/musician Paul Plimley.

Panel Discussion, Catalogue Launch and Closing Party Saturday, November 10, 2012 Panel discussion with Raymond Boisjoly, Vanessa Kwan and Cindy Mochizuki, moderated by Ashok Mathur.

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ack n o wled g eme n ts

Lead Donors The Audain Foundation and The Leon and Thea Koerner Foundation.

Circle of Support Jan and Mark Ballard, Elsie Jang, Joanne Louie Mah and Hugh Mah, The Michael O’Brian Family Foundation.

Public Funders The Canada Council for the Arts, the British Columbia Arts Council, BC Community Gaming Grants and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs.

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in kind sponsors and supporters

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a u t h o rs

Colin Browne is a writer, poet and filmmaker. His most recent book is The Properties (Talonbooks, 2012). His essay about the surréaliste fascination with the ceremonial art of the NW Coast and Alaska, “The Scavengers of Paradise,” appeared in The Colour of My Dreams, published by the Vancouver Art Gallery to accompany its 2011 exhibition The Colour of My Dreams. He teaches in the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts. Makiko Hara is the curator at Centre A, since 2007. She has curated numerous contemporary art exhibitions by Japanese, Canadian, and international artists for over 20 years in Japan and Canada. She has served as project coordinator for several international exhibitions, including the Yokohama Triennale (2001/2005) and the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale (2003). Hara was one of the three curators for the 2009 Scotiabank Nuit Blanche in Toronto. She has contributed to catalogues and magazines and her most recent essay was published in Mutation Perspectives on Photography (2011). Am Johal is an independent Vancouver writer whose work has appeared in Seven Oaks Magazine, ZNet, Georgia Straight, Electronic Intifada, Arena Magazine, Inter Press Service, Worldpress.org, rabble.ca and many others. He has an MA in International Economic Relations from the Institute for Social and European Studies. Louis Kaplan is a Professor of History and Theory of Photography and New Media in the Graduate Department of Art of the University of Toronto and Chair of the Department of Visual Studies at the Mississauga campus. He is the author of American Exposures: Photography and Community in the Twentieth Century (Minnesota, 2005) and he is currently working on a book dealing with the topic of Photography and Humor to be published by Reaktion Books (London). Kaplan serves as senior research consultant to the Shpilman Institute for Photography in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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Haema Sivanesan was recently appointed to the position of Executive Director at Centre A. She was formerly the Executive Director of SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre), Toronto (2006-2011), and Assistant Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney, Australia (1996-2004). She has curated several large scale exhibitions and independent projects, including as a zone curator for Nuit Blanche, Toronto (2008), and for the Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival, Melbourne (2006). More recently she was the curator of “(the heart that has no love/ pain/generosity is not a heart)” by Jayce Salloum and Khadim Ali, which was awarded the Images Prize at the 23rd Images Festival, 2010 (Toronto). Annabel Vaughan is trained as an architect and is the Principal of the design firm publicLAB RESEARCH + DESIGN in Vancouver. She has taught at the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at the University of British Columbia and co-teaches the Architectural Science Program at BCIT. In her practice, she works to understand how Vancouver came to be the city it is, where it’s headed in the future, and how the intersection of art and architecture in the public realm will shape its outcome. She has co-written articles for Artspeak, West Coast Line and Vancouver Matters (Blueimprint, 2008) with Rob Brownie. She has exhibited at Artspeak, Presentation House, the Vancouver Art Gallery, La Fonderie Darling in Montréal and The Other Gallery in Banff.

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Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

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TO|FROM BC ELECTRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS  

TO|FROM BC ELECTRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS is a group exhibition celebrating the historic BC Electric Railway (BCER) building’s centennial annive...

TO|FROM BC ELECTRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS  

TO|FROM BC ELECTRIC RAILWAY 100 YEARS is a group exhibition celebrating the historic BC Electric Railway (BCER) building’s centennial annive...

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