Curated by Paul Wong
Part 8 of Magnetic North a 10 part Canadian Series
Produced by The Centre For Art Tapes,
Presented at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
March 28. 02
HOW TO BE A RECLUSE (still) by Laurel Swenson, 5 mins
Vancouver is a new world boom town, not yet a world class city. It perches on the Pacific Rim at the cross roads of its lumberjack past and its high tech future. Vancouver’s climate is situated in a temperate rain forest , 50% of our days are shrouded under grey skies and drizzling rain. In the picture perfect postcards it is always bright and sunny. With the right advertising anything will sell, and it does. Every year newcomers arrive in the tens of thousands. The well heeled land with platinum cards and those less fortunate come illegally in cargo containers. As a mass they have quickly changed the face and the pace of this place. For a time everywhere you looked the city was dotted with cranes demarcating big money and rapid development.
LEAKS scratches the veneer of Canada’s ‘California’, a look at the underbelly of west coast leisure style and the not so glamourous realities of Hollywood North. B.C. has developed out of its own peculiar isolation, fenced off from the rest of Canada by the Rocky Mountains, we are connected to Asia by the Pacific Ocean. For many people we are just an expressway, we are another country, an inconvenient land mass that separates two American States: Washington and Alaska.
The layout of the city is that of a broken grid, split by waterways and hemmed in by the mountains to the north and the US border to the south. Neighbourhoods are geographically defined, the artistic communities are fragmented with separate camps with ideological differences. In a place where it seems like everyone is looking for their fifteen minutes of fame, there is plenty of “ I am a movie maker” shorts. Like the overnight ascent of newer, bigger and flashier buildings on the skyline, there are a few solid projects amongst the mostly leaking condos.
The current look of Vancouver’s architecture is like Christo works of art. Entire blocks of condo’s are draped over with white plastic. The cost of repairs in many cases is the same cost of rebuilding. Unable to sell and financially trapped many of these homeowners are forced to continue living in these moulding premises while waiting for the repairs to begin. It typifies the wild west mentality of instant get rich schemes, the ongoing plunder and corruption.
In this age of digital proliferation, the 200 plus channel universe often does more to keep us apart then to bringing us together. The high quality and low cost of digital production equipment has ripped open access to media tools. This democratisation has made it possible for more and more individuals to have ‘stay at home’ studios. As more and more media artists work in isolation, this program is a focus on those who work together.
There are many active and influential groups for encouraging production and appreciation of the video form. On the margins there continues to be strong independent work being developed outside the areas of broadcast or the feature length markets. What continues to drive experimental video in Vancouver is from it place on the edge. These are works that reflect human conditions of communities outside the mainstream.
LEAKS was a program of recent short works by Vancouver videomakers. It was a selection of works from different communities, productions that come out of groups of artists working together as collectives, collaborations, individuals brought together by commissions, working out of common sites such as an artist run centre or a school, or by social, political or cultural necessity. In this case I programmed together tapes by Aboriginal Youth, emerging and mid-career artists, queers and activists. Many of the works are autobiographical, pushing the use of non-fiction addressing both artistic and social issues including violence, drug addiction, despair, love and desire. (Paul Wong).
BURNING MAN (still) by Velcrow Ripper, 5 mins