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Happenstance: Call for Submissions

Happenstance // A Series of Temporary Artworks

Presented by Decoy Magazine
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?


Thank you to all who have submitted to HAPPENSTANCE.

Our Call for Submissions is now closed.




Monuments (Deadline: SEPTEMBER 15, 2016)

Monuments will explore the elements of monumental structures that take up space, or perhaps even dissolve space in an anti-monument form. When we think of a typical ‘monument,’ it is often a structure that commemorates or celebrates an event or persons of some decided significance. Their likeness is made permanent in stone or other lasting material that aims to evoke an honorific response from its viewers. When we see monuments in publics spaces, the events they acknowledge are often exclusionary and biased perspectives on their contributions. Anti-monumentalism, as in the unbuilt ‘Monuments’ by artist Claes Oldenburg in the 1960s, was framed by a “paradoxical anti-monumental stance [that arose] either from the will to commemorate a person, an event, a place or a concept for its negative impact instead than celebrate it, and from their capacity of being somehow “against” a city, its urban logic, its flows and its overall image.” (Mariabruna Fabrizi, 2014) In this theme we seek to 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?


Shelters (Deadline: NOVEMBER 15, 2016)

There are different conceptions of shelter, be it physical, ephemeral or unstable. The notion of shelter that can take many forms, even a human body. This theme seeks to explore all kinds of shelter, the definitions that build roofs and walls, that draw borders and raise electric fences. The feelings and emotions we associate with shelter, safety and inclusion, housing and gentrification. Is shelter ‘home,’ is shelter ‘safe’? How do shelters form, dissolve or create a resistance against imposing urban spaces? Question how you conceive of shelter, how the concept is defined within Vancouver and who shelters benefit, or not. Do we build permanent shelter in this city, do we have a feeling of safety in these shelters? All ideas pertaining to bus, animal, homeless, bomb, survival, women(s), etc, shelters may be considered.


Words (Deadline: FEBRUARY 15, 2017)

Our society is predominantly visual. Signage, lettering, directions, prohibitions, advertising are all part of our daily lived experiences in the city. How does wording define our actions and behaviours? How does it define or construct our understandings of space and sites? Are there sites where wording is absent, ironic, subliminal, contradictory, infuriating, disturbing? This theme invites word-based arts forms or practices (rap, poetry, singing, interpreting classical literature, critical analysis, texts etc). What traces have words left on our city, have been erased or covered up? How do they affect the space they occupy?



Senses (Deadline: APRIL 15, 2017)

Aside from sight, we are also inundated with other sensory experiences. What sounds are invoked in certain spaces? What smells, what tactile experiences occur in shared urban spaces? What sensory experiences are prohibited in these spaces? May we listen or touch, may we eat in certain spaces? If you’re exploring sight, what can we not see in this space, what is covered up, what acts of erasure, silencing or oppression prevent our sighted understanding? Barring a sighted connection to a space, how else could we appreciate its traceless histories? May we listen to its music, traffic or voices, feel its cracks and edges, mosses and earth?



Decoy Magazine acknowledges that the Happenstance series occurs on the ancestral, traditional, and unceded homelands of the Musqueam, Skxwú7mesh, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples. While we move within these spaces, we are aware of the historical and ongoing colonial oppressions and violence against Indigenous peoples.

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