A Series of Temporary Artworks
Curated by Whitney Brennan
Happenstance is a series of artworks in public space, curated and organized by Decoy Magazine, that seeks to examine the meaningful ‘coincidental’ events that occur in our everyday spaces in Vancouver. It asks: What happened here that we cannot see, that is not recognized or remembered? What is celebrated in the spaces that have simultaneously oppressed and disenfranchised others? What is covered up by architecture, concrete, golf courses, parking lots? What are the unseen, unheard, unspoken, ‘traceless’ histories and memories of our city? We all walk through these streets, these parks, these spaces that hold deeper meaning and stories than we can see. Is it a ‘coincidence’ that these sites are covered or hidden? Is it happenstance that wherever we stand, on any street corner on any given day, we are standing in a place where history has been made?
Theme 1: Monuments
October - November 2016
In this theme artists explore the ‘anti-’ or the ‘counter-monument’, the exclusionary nature of monuments that exist in our city, as well as explore the ability for creating a new type of monument that redirects the conversation that typical monuments raise. Can we create works that examine the bias of our cultural monuments? Whose voices and experiences are hidden in the shadows of the statues of public figures?
The Possession of Space
The Possession of Space, reimagines Meade's Master's project from the University of Westminster in London under the MAPS program, in the context of Vancouver's financial district. Meade is interested in the relationships between architecture, history and the body. In this piece, he choreographs dancers to "to discretely violate the body language of the city and its institutional posturing."
Dancers: Cody Cox, Sam Presley, Kayla DeVos, Linda Arkelian
This image: Jon Meade, The Possession of Space, 2016.
Courtesy the artist.
Alex Tedlie-Stursberg and Evan Hardy
Habitat Island Two
Alex Tedlie-Stursberg and Evan Hardy collaborated to create a temporary island in the likeness of Habitat Island in False Creek, titled Habitat Island Two. These two artists are querying our relationship to nature and man-made natural space. In reflecting on the nature of this place and adjacent body of water, the artists created a small floating island that mimics the topography of Habitat Island. Structured from raft-based materials and formatted to appear as a piece of Habitat Island, the artists tethered their island to the shore where it floated roughly 10 to 20 meters into False Creek for the duration of the installation.
This image: Alex Tedlie-Stursberg and Evan Hardy, Habitat Island Two, 2016. Courtesy the artists.
575 Beatty: A Reading Memory of INTERMEDIA
This is part of the artist's ongoing performance-based project, which involves the reading of the manifesto text written in 1967 by David Orcutt, the project manager of INTERMEDIA, Canada's first artist-run-centre. The text has never been reproduced in its entirety. Bernard performed a series of readings of Orcutt's text, at the site where INTERMEDIA once stood, at 575 Beatty St.
This image: Stéphane Bernard, 575 Beatty: A Reading Memory of INTERMEDIA, 2016. Courtesy the artist.
Theme 2: Shelters
For this theme, artists look at different conceptions of shelter, be it physical, ephemeral or unstable. The notion of shelter that can take many forms, even a human body. These works consider the feelings and emotions we associate with shelter, safety and inclusion, housing and gentrification. Is shelter ‘home,’ is shelter ‘safe’?
SANCTUM1 + 2
This artwork's understanding is of shelter as “a made place.” Rather than addressing the precarious nature of housing or referencing pre-existing places of refuge, it gestures to a need for sanctuary in its most irreducible form: self-generated, ephemeral, often materially inadequate to actual circumstances but, nonetheless, a home with its foundations in the mind. In a sense, fragility notwithstanding, this is perhaps shelter at its most subversive. SANCTUM was a pair of performance installations inspired by films that depict the construction and occupation of sanctuary that took place at Coal Harbour Park and under the Heatley Ave. overpass.
This image: Penelope Hetherington (Psychotic Butler), SANCTUM 1, 2017. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Lauren Marsden.
Leah Weinstein & prOphecy sun
SiteFactory: Public livingROOM
Taking place inside of the SiteFactory bus parked in Stanley Park, Public livingROOM brought together a collection of cozy seating spaces, tables and board games inside of the bus, and welcomed people to enter and participate. The installation also included a looping single channel video and sound projection by performance artist prOphecy sun. Exploring ideas such as shelter, cohabitation and transience, this temporary installation offered an assembly of viewpoints, engaging viewers through multiple means, threading together both conscious and unconscious choreographies, sound, and environment.
This image: Leah Weinstein & prOphecy sun, Public livingROOM, 2017. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Whitney Brennan.
Theme 3: Words
For the Words theme, artists examine how wording may define or reflect our actions and behaviours in the city. Using performance, poetry, and site-specific interventions, these artists use text and language to create new understandings of space and sites.
"The 20" is a poem based on Morle's experiences riding the 20 bus, and his encounters with its passengers.
He fragmented the poem and wrote it in chalk on sandwich board signs outside 10 participating businesses along a portion of the 20's route, from East Hastings + Heatley Ave to Commercial Drive + Kitchener St. The poem reflects on the dynamic exchanges that take place among passengers while transiting through Vancouver's east side.
This image: Alixzandar Morle, The 20, 2017. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Lauren Marsden.
This collaborative performance took place at the courtyard and stream at the corner of Scotia & 8th (in Mount Pleasant across from the Western Front). In the artist's words, "...walking along the verge of our boundaries, we seek for words to emerge that shift our movements to act upon. How can subtext of words, as they exist in broken forms rooted to individual meanings, arise a sense of collective embodiment grounded through the spatial configuration of an urban landscape? How can acts of creating momentum through convergence help us to reimagine structures found in colonized forms of language and land ownership?"
Valentina Acevedo Montilla
This image: Vanessa Grondin, verge, 2017. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Whitney Brennan.
In 2015, street artist Mark Ollinger installed Smoulder, one of his signature abstracted sculptural text works, onto the side of Canada Place, located at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver, BC. Ollinger often displays his works on the undersides and indiscreet space on urban structures around Vancouver, but he has also installed works all over the world. Canada Place remains a unique installation, firstly due to its private ownership, and secondly, to Ollinger’s surprise, because his artwork has remained on the side of the building since it was installed without official permission.
Ollinger recently made and installed a wooden plaque, designed to look like a bronze didactic installed by the city to commemorate the piece.
This image: Mark Ollinger, Smoulder, 2017. Courtesy the artist.
Theme 4: Senses
For the Senses theme, artists explore expanded sensory reactions to sites in the city, including works based on sound, touch, and meditative intuition.
Portrait of a Place
June 2017 - ongoing
Elvira Hufschmid is visiting sites of historical, and ecological significance, as well as seemingly insignificant industrial, urban places to create a series of blind gesture drawings that reveal unconscious images through meditation and visualization.
We acknowledge that this work is taking place on unceded Coast Salish territory and that it includes the perspectives of settlers and uninvited guests on the land. The drawings have stimulated conversations and interpretations about the various narratives of the sites with historians and educators including the late Musqueam elder and storyteller Henry Charles († 2017).
This image: Elvira Hufschmid, Portrait of a Place, 2017. Courtesy the artist.
The Granville Bridge was the first bridge built in Vancouver. While its structure has changed a few times over the last century, it was originally constructed as a wooden CPR crossing in 1889. The landmark is a monument of colonialism—a tool of imperialist engineering—and allows passage to some of the 145,000 individuals who work downtown on a daily basis.
In late June 2017, Alexandra Bischoff enacted a durational performance along the Granville Bridge entitled thrum. Responding to the repetition of the daily commuters and her own personal history with the bridge, the artist ran her hand along the bridge's railing for fours hours. The end results were, in the artist's words, 'blighted finger spots—an affectionate remorse—from loving thrum.'
This image: Alexandra Bischoff, thrum, 2017. Courtesy the artist.
The Subtle Effects of Living Backwards
The Subtle Effects of Living Backwards staged a moment of synchronicity by assigning importance to a naturally occurring event in an open public space. Neatly stacked, stylized reflections could be seen for about an hour at the corner of Homer and Hastings Street on a sunny morning. During this time a soundscape created by Ashlee Luk and Lida P (Minimal Violence) was broadcast through a link feeding a live performance available to hear via headphones. First Nations musician, Bryce Agecoutay lead the live experience by reacting on site with tactile sounds constructed from found objects and traditional drumming, creating a harmony between the pre-colonial idea of a sacred natural world and the rational understanding of synchronicity.
This image: Sylvana d'Angelo, The Subtle Effects of Living Backwards, 2017. Courtesy the artist.