Sunday, June 25, 2017

"(nothing more nothing less)"

The Mainlander's Andrew Witt (or Andrew Witt, writing in The Mainlander,) contributes yet another article on Vancouver and photography. Is it worth reading? Of course!

But Andrew -- this:

The common refrain heard over and over again when looking at Herzog’s photographs is often the following: “I remember that building…” or “That’s the back of my house!” (nothing more nothing less) — a position that sounds something like “Once upon a time ….” Regretfully, the photograph is approached not formally or socially, but is read through the hazy filters of personal (not collective) memory. Encouraged by this tendency, the spectator is emboldened to feel wistfully nostalgic towards the city and its past, rather than advancing an interpretive or critical position towards the image and its complicated history.

How is it that a news service that positions itself as a voice of the people can reduce people to their personal remembrances "(nothing more nothing less)." As someone who has written on Herzog's work (I am a co-author of the 2007 Herzog book that Andrew Witt attributes only to VAG curator Grant Arnold), I have discussed "formal and social" aspects of Herzog's work in relation to the emergent market city. What's more, the overwhelming public response to the VAG's 2007 Herzog exhibition marks a turning point in a city that for the longest time saw History as something that got in the way of making money. This shift is measured not only in an acceleration of interest in the city and its histories, but, as a result of this interest, a revival of a COPE party by those too young to remember Herzog's city of the 50s, 60s and 70s, but who see in it something worth fighting for.

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Claude Breeze

What to make of Claude Breeze's Sunday Afternoon: From an Old American Photograph (1964-1965) after Dana Schutz's Open Casket (2016)?

Thursday, June 22, 2017


For a second I thought this Harper's article was subtitled "Who owns black paint?" and was about Anish Kapoor's struggle to secure the exclusive rights to Vantablack.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Hand of the Landlord

An artist's version of negative billing: graffiti that requires a similar action from the landlord, provided the landlord is against such actions.

Another Bill worth posting:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

80s Poem Revis(it)ed

Shared House
 for Cornelia Wyngaarden

northdown kickass princess kid all bossy with fear arrives is
indifference as’m goddess thick with instance is’m
dandered at the lack of patricular resistance as in said gesture
mattered not on consensus chorewheel clacking done-thats
but on toilet seats with hinges

a wall away tucked into the den’s red deco chair inez stares as
nothing’s unplugged television reflects the hall behind her
bicep vein-twitch eyed by passing royalty
a tremor sent and registered as inez counts back from ten
awaiting her return

still new to her room as if breathing it in for the first time then out 
some unseen hole her highness draws the blinds
dumps her bag on the futon before more forward steps back
down the hall to claim the wall opposite inez
as if to say

it’s sisters sure but my star beats yers 

tamsin is screamed because the house is in her name and it’s royalty
who refuses to be told it’s her turn to do anything inez says
it’s yers cause if it isn’t then it’s powerflex so no more
ponytalk it’s tamsin’s to decide because it’s her alamo
and it’s inez who was first within’t 

what started as a painting was cut up to decide itself
left to map performance’s haptic handstand whorls
lifted from the floor and entered into trauma’s grid
a match because it’s grandma’s trapline 
left to rest at the foot of the bed

what’s this inez says unasking knowing that it’s excellent
what’s this but a three-point teaching moment turned on her
when she was royalty’s age just loud enough that enough come running
inez’s critique powered by what little she knows
but enough to fill those lower lids

of royalty’s left to explain her art as if first met by those come running
the melt felt from fresh eyes feeding fires behind familiar faces
the stink of rethink as royalty is reduced to the sum
of her defenses on the morning of an interview
for a job that is beneath her

Monday, June 19, 2017


At 5:05PM Saturday I left the house near Kingsway and Knight and walked to 5th and Burrard for the 6:30PM screening of My Cousin Rachel (2017).

The walk itself took just under and hour, with a ten minute break outside the Cancer Control Agency, where I bumped into Lisa Prentice, and a 30 second break two blocks west, where I stopped to take a picture of VHG/UBC poster boy George Bowering.

The link for George is to a Western Front reading he did in 1974. The book he reads from is one of my favourites -- Curious (1973) -- "a book of meditations," he says, or a "picture book" and/or a "portrait book," as Ed Dorn told him.

One of George's literary heroes is Gertrude Stein, who wrote portraits of her fellow artists (Matisse, Picasso). Like Stein's portraits, George's are not only affirmative complimentary, but also critical complimentary and entertainingly ambiguous.

More recently Andrew Berardini has taken up portrait writing.

I have nothing positive to say about the current film adaption of Daphne du Maurier's My Cousin Rachel, where we are encouraged to feel aghast at "Philip"'s immaturity, while "Rachel"'s complexity is left flapping.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Cool Breeze

A Neil Campbell painting at Griffin Art Project's A Cool Breeze exhibition.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Paper Hound

On my way back from North Van I stopped at the Paper Hound to see what's new in used books. Rod was at the desk, which is always a pleasure because I have known Rod a long time and it's good to catch up.

Atop a cabinet across from the desk stood a number of books. I picked up one of them, only to take note of its holder.

"It's a coat hanger," I said to the book holder.

"Kim made those," said Rod. "She made one, we liked it, now she can't stop."

I asked if I could take its picture. Rod said he didn't think Kim would mind.

"It looks like a hound," I said. "It looks like a hound as if van Tee had drawn it."

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Polygon Gallery

Earlier this week I took the Seabus to North Vancouver for a tour of the Polygon Gallery (to the right of the Q Tower below).

Scheduled to open in November, 2017 the Polygon's various spaces are more or less defined, with a white oak upper-floor to be installed next week.

Unlike some recent buildings, the Polygon has chosen to name only those spaces where artworks (pictures, sculptures, publications) are displayed.

One space I returned to more than once during the tour is a small south-facing room with a view of downtown Vancouver. This space, according to Polygon officials, is intended largely as a place of rest, relaxation and reflection.

I love this space, and I love it that the Polygon extended the window from its original plan so that those enjoying it can see for themselves why it is a good idea.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

There is fighting outside. They are at it again. They are always at it.

Someone took someone else's picture and didn't ask permission. The subject is demanding that the picture be deleted -- and wants to see it deleted.

Too late -- the taker deleted the picture while the subject was explaining why it "isn't cool" to take someone's picture without asking permission. Now the taker has nothing to show the subject, and the subject thinks the taker's a liar.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


What can I say -- it's Can!

Monday, June 12, 2017

How It Is (1964)

then on my elbow I quote I see me prop me up thrust in my
arm in the sack we're talking of the sack thrust in count the
tins impossible with one hand keep trying one day it will be

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Garage Sale

An invitation to attend a transnational real estate company's fifth annual multi-venue neighbourhood garage sale.

Fifth annual? Really? First I've hear of it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017


Un fecicapo entra in un museo e chiede, "Hai Manzoni in un lattina?"

Friday, June 9, 2017

Edgemont Village, 1966

Vancouver's Trips Festival took place on the PNE grounds July 29-31, 1966. A more Dionysian gathering took place three months later at Edgemont Village in North Vancouver.

I found the Sun's November 1st, 1966 front page while doing research towards a project on the cultural history of North Vancouver. Is it coincidental that the space that frames these five vertical images approximates prison bars? Makes me curious about what else is going on "in" the pictures from which these images were cropped. I wonder if they still exist?

Thursday, June 8, 2017


Yesterday's post opened with a picture of Heriot Bay, looking west. Today's picture was taken from the same spot at the same time, looking east.

Yesterday's post carried a picture of Derek helped along by Khan and Ron. The picture above is of Derek moments after suffering what a Campbell River ER doctor later diagnosed as a "mechanical failure." The fellow standing is Tommy; the shirtless one is Ron; the one dressed in black is Khan.

The person moving towards the camera is Amy, who wrote the exhibition text that appears on the flip side of Sharona's poster and who did most of the shopping and cooking.

The picture of Amy and the one of Derek, Tommy, Khan and Ron belong to one picture -- this one:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Heriot Bay Gang

Our base of operations: Heriot Bay, Quadra Island.

Khan made a tin foil box for the vegetables.

Sharona accepted Ron's flower.

She also designed the Vapours' concert poster

and performed with them.

Later, she infused Russian sage in gin.

Derek threw his back out on the first tent peg, but felt well enough at the end to document Emily's exhibition.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017


The Vapours performance was part of Emily Hill's Looks exhibition at the Campbell River Art Gallery. In addition to Emily's rug paintings, the exhibition featured a video by Feminist Land Art Collective members and Exercise co-founders Nicole Ondre and Vanessa Disler. Emily had a studio at Exercise and participated in a number of its events.

Looks is organized by artist and former CRAG curator Julia Prudhomme, who, during her short run at the gallery, developed a contemporary program (Sonny Assu, Amy Malbeuf + Jordan Bennett, Samuel Roy-Bois, Derya Akay) that was attentive to the particularities of the local cultural ecology while at the same time expanded the limits of painting and sculpture. Why the CRAG's director did not show up to help open the exhibition and offer parting words for Julia could be indicative of where the CRAG is -- and isn't -- headed. But if that's the case, oh well -- yet another instance of time over space.

Best of luck, Julia!

Monday, June 5, 2017

What'_ Mi_ _ ing in Vapour_

Nicole cut off a foot of Emily's hair, dipped the tip in white paint and wrote VAPOURS on Big Rock.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Handbags & Gladrags

Yesterday's opening of SFU Audain Gallery's Maps and Dreams exhibition had me taking the 19 bus downtown at 2pm to visit Erin Templeton's shop in advance of a 4pm talk with the exhibition's curators and artists.

What a strange day it was. First off, the bus was late. And when it did arrive, it was packed. The doors opened to an unsettling scene between a beleaguered middle-aged woman and her hissy-fitting four-year-old grandchild.

Once inside I made my way to the back where I found a seat beside a young woman from Old Massett who was unhappy to be on an unhappy bus on her way to a job where her co-workers would be "just as unhappy -- if not unhappier."

"I don't know, there's something in the air today, something not right," she kept saying, and I agreed with her.

Is it cheque day? I wondered. (It was.) "Covfefe!" someone speculated from across the aisle, but the laughter from that gaffe had passed.

It had been ages since I was inside Erin's shop. On this visit I noticed its spare layout, but also the perfection of her "non-statement" handbags and wallets.

Everything is right about Erin's work. If someone I knew was looking for a handbag and wanted something simple yet swinging, I would send them to Erin Templeton.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

A Letter to One of Tiger's Sponsors

To Whom It May Concern,

Tiger is a proud man who was raised to be proud and that remains a problem for so many North American men of Anglo-European descent.

When Tiger was arrested for DUI the other day, talk show hosts like Charles Adler were speculating that, although Tiger said he was taking meds (four back surgeries in how many years?), he was likely drinking too, and he invited listeners to call in and agree or disagree.

I know talk show hosts are in the business of getting listeners to contribute content, and some will say anything to get them to do so, but for me this was the last straw, so I emailed Adler and told him as much.

Haven't heard back from Adler or his people, and don't expect to, but I feel a little better for having put that out in the world. Same too for this note, which in this instance is the opposite of an admonishment -- a thank you!

Thank you for standing by Tiger.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Statement by Sam Durant

Let me begin by describing the sculpture that has become the focus of protest in recent days as I envisioned it when it was first exhibited in 2012 in Europe at The Hague, Netherlands; Jupiter Artland, Edinburgh, Scotland; and dOCUMENTA (13), Kassel, Germany.

[Is the work's exhibition history important in the context of this statement? Or is it there to validate the work?]

This wood and steel sculpture is a composite of the representations of seven historical gallows that were used in US state-sanctioned executions by hanging between 1859 and 2006. Of the seven gallows depicted in the work, one in particular recalls the design of the gallows of the execution of the Dakota 38 in Mankato, Minnesota in 1862. The Mankato Massacre represents the largest mass execution in the history of the United States, in which 38 Dakota men were executed by order of President Lincoln in the same week that the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Six other scaffolds comprise the structure, which include those used to execute abolitionist John Brown (1859); the Lincoln Conspirators (1865), which included the first woman executed in US history; the Haymarket Martyrs (1886), which followed a labor uprising and bombing in Chicago; Rainey Bethea (1936), the last legally conducted public execution in US history; Billy Bailey (1996), the last execution by hanging (not public) in the US; and Saddam Hussein (2006), for war crimes at a joint Iraqi/US facility.

[Is the artist's "composite of the representations of seven historical gallows" yet another example of ramrod conflation, where the particularity of an event is reduced to what one knows and doesn't know of those it is (con)fused with?]

Scaffold opens the difficult histories of the racial dimension of the criminal justice system in the United States, ranging from lynchings to mass incarceration to capital punishment. In bringing these troubled and complex histories of national importance to the fore, it was my intention not to cause pain or suffering, but to speak against the continued marginalization of these stories and peoples, and to build awareness around their significance.

[Do we believe the artist when he says his Scaffold "opens" anything other than its own trap doors? How could an artist known for his deep research not have anticipated a negative response to this work prior to its placement so close to where so many Dakota were executed? And if not, could he not have thought to speak with the relatives of those who, it has been reported, "wailed" and "danced" and called out their names in their native language atop those doors prior to their opening?]

Scaffold seeks to address the contemporary relevance and resonance of these narratives today, especially at a time of continued institutionalized racism, and the ongoing dehumanization and intimidation of people of color. Scaffold is neither memorial nor monument, and stands against prevailing ideas and normative history. It warns against forgetting the past. In doing so, my hope for Scaffold is to offer a platform for open dialogue and exchange, a place to question not only our past, but the future we form together.

[When the artist writes "my hope for Scaffold is to offer a platform for open dialogue and exchange," don't the puns ("platform" and "open") carried in these words compromise the sincerity of his apology?]

I made Scaffold as a learning space for people like me, white people who have not suffered the effects of a white supremacist society and who may not consciously know that it exists. It has been my belief that white artists need to address issues of white supremacy and its institutional manifestations. Whites created the concept of race and have used it to maintain dominance for centuries, whites must be involved in its dismantling. However, your protests have shown me that I made a grave miscalculation in how my work can be received by those in a particular community. In focusing on my position as a white artist making work for that audience I failed to understand what the inclusion of the Dakota 38 in the sculpture could mean for Dakota people. I offer my deepest apologies for my thoughtlessness. I should have reached out to the Dakota community the moment I knew that the sculpture would be exhibited at the Walker Art Center in proximity to Mankato.

[It is only when the artist writes "However, your protests have shown me..." am I aware that he is speaking to anyone ("your"). And yet in offering his "deepest apologies," who is he apologizing to? And if it is the "Dakota community," why can't he say that directly? As in, I offer my deepest apologies to the Dakota community.]

My work was created with the idea of creating a zone of discomfort for whites, your protests have now created a zone of discomfort for me. In my attempt to raise awareness I have learned something profound and I thank you for that. Can this be a learning experience for all of us, the Walker, other institutions and artists and larger society? I look forward to meeting the Dakota Elders on Wednesday in Minneapolis, and am open and ready to work together.

[What about the "zone of discomfort" this statement has created for "whites"? When might whites expect that apology?]

Monday, May 29, 2017


Our window of sunshine and high temperatures is about to be broken. Tomorrow's forecast calls for a 10 degree drop, and rain!

Sunday, May 28, 2017


Detail from an untitled painting by Maud Lewis.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Denis Johnson (1949-2017)

Looking Out the Window Poem

Related Poem Content Details

The sounds of traffic   
die over the back lawn   
to occur again in the low   

The voices, risen, of
the neighborhood cannot   
maintain that pitch   
and fail briefly, start   
up again.

Similarly my breathing rises   
and falls while I look out   
the window of apartment   
number three in this slum,   
hoping for rage, or sorrow.

They don’t come to me   
anymore. How can I lament   
anything? It is all
so proper, so much
as it should be, now

the nearing cumulus   
clouds, ominous,   
shift, they are like the
curtains, billowy,   
veering at the apex
of their intrusion on the room.
If I am alive now,   
it is only

to be in all this
making all possible.   
I am glad to be
finally a part
of such machinery. I was   
after all not so fond
of living, and there comes
into me, when I see   
how little I liked
being a man, a great joy.

Look out our astounding
clear windows before evening.   
It is almost as if
the world were blue
with some lubricant,
it shines so.

Denis Johnson, “Looking Out the Window Poem” from The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly: Poems Collected and New. Copyright © 1995 by Denis Johnson. Used by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Source: The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1995)

Friday, May 26, 2017

Japanese Cherry

Every April I visit Locarno Beach to see the sand-locked Prunus serrulata.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Pictures From Her(e)

On Tuesday I walked through the VAG's Pictures From Here exhibition. Although I was aware in advance of the artists included in the show, one never knows what one will see until one steps inside.

On that note, hanging outside the VAG's south face is an exhibition banner that uses Rodney Graham's Paddler, Mouth of the Seymour (2012-2013) not as the triptych it is, but the image therein. Could the VAG not have made a three-part banner consistent with the artist's work instead of simply displaying the image the artist worked with?

Something else that bothered me is Paul Wong's Vigil 5.4 (2010). This is the last work in the show (if one proceeds clock-wise), and employs video documentation Paul shot of Rebecca Belmore's 2002 Vigil performance at the Talking Stick Festival (Full Circle First Nations Performance), footage that Rebecca projected in its entirety onto a surface of lightbulbs as a subsequent work entitled The Named and the Unnamed (2002).

Now I know there is nothing wrong with an artist making work from the work of other artists, but there is something troubling about what Paul has made of Rebecca's performance documentation. While I have no doubt that Paul is supportive of Rebecca and her intentions, the means by which he expresses his support does not critique/transcend the gaze that contributes to the conditions that allow women to "go" missing or "get" murdered.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Good Morning, Midnight (1939)

In 1908 E.M. Forster published Room With a View, where the desired view is not of a courtyard but of a free and flowing river. Six years later Gertrude Stein published Tender Buttons (1914), a book that ends with "Rooms".

Another notable "room" writer is Jean Rhys, in particular her novel Good Morning, Midnight (1939). It opens with a room:

"Quite like old times," the rooms says. "Yes? No?"

There are two beds, a big one for madame and a smaller one on the opposite side for monsieur. The wash-basin is shut off by a curtain. It is a larger room, the smell of cheap hotels faint, almost imperceptible. The street outside is narrow, cobblestoned, going sharply uphill and ending in a flight of steps. What they call an impasse.

I have been here five days. I have decided on a place to eat in at midday, a place to eat in at night, a place to have my drink in after dinner. I have arranged my little life.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Sei Shonagon was a 10th century Heian courtesan who kept a diary while serving the Empress Teishi (977-1000). A mix of "vignettes and opinions and anecdotes," according to her translator, Meredith McKinney. English readers know this diary as The Pillow Book (1001).

In 1996 Peter Greenaway made a film of it.

Here's something I fell asleep to last night:

[28] Things that make you feel cheerful -- A well-executed picture done in the female style,* with lots of beautifully written accompanying text around it.

* the female style: A painting done in the softer, sometimes tinted, "Japanese" style, as distinct from the bolder "Chinese" style known as the "male style". Here it is presumably part of an illustrated tale.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

PLAZA Projects

Made my first visit to Richmond's Aberdeen Centre mall last week to attend the opening of the New Collection group show at PLAZA Projects.

Fonder and director Steven Tong was there, of course, as were most of the artists and some of the mall's representatives.

I purchased a cotton abibas bag from Olga Abeleva and Shizen Jambor, saw the permanent installation of the latest version of Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson's The Night Times Press Bar (2016) and poked my head in on 7:30 Assemble's ongoing performance I didn't know the Blue Jays were from Mexico (2017).

But the biggest hit was the mall itself, with its many tiny shops, none of which are franchises. Amazing. Had me returning to the exhibition -- to look again.