Produced in conjunction with the 2001 exhibition Universal Pictures
Double-sided poster, 51cm x 89cm, off-set printing on uncoated paper
This poster/brochure accompanied the third exhibition in curator Kitty Scott’s Universal Pictures series, which was held at the Blackwood Gallery and subsequently traveled to Plug In ICA, Winnipeg. Universal Pictures 3 featured works by Geoffrey Farmer, Myfanwy MacLeod, and Ron Terada, a younger generation Vancouver artists whose points of reference lay in the images and language of television and Hollywood film production.
One side of the poster features an image by Ron Terada of a sign that reads “Entering City of Vancouver,” as well as the exhibition title and basic info. The other side features an abridged version of the catalogue text for Universal Pictures and Universal Pictures II, which includes texts by Kitty Scott and Barbara Fischer. This side also includes an inset image of a sign that reads “Vancouver Welcomes You.”
Geoffrey Farmer, Myfanwy MacLeod, and Ron Terada all live and work in Vancouver. The city is situated on the hilly terrain at the mouth of the Fraser River, bounded to the north by forested mountains, to the west by the salt water of the Strait of Georgia, while its suburban sprawl seeps into farms to the south and east. Before the British settled into Vancouver to develop a resource-based economy, the area supported an extensive rain forest. It was home to aboriginal peoples as well as their hunting, gathering and fishing grounds. The land then, has seen major transformation: from a still contested aboriginal territory, through a colonial outpost and provincial backwater settled mainly by the British, to a major cosmopolitan city, in the continual process of redefining itself as a player in the new Pacific Rim economy.
Vancouver is often portrayed as a Canadian Shangri-La. On the rare day that the skies are a clear blue, the city looks, from a distance, spectacular. Lush forested mountains, beaches and ocean surround a city centre composed of a cluster of small-scale towers. This scene is easy to mythologize and commodify in turn; the tourist and real estate industry trade on the image. So have the photo-conceptual artists who reside here.
Within the limited parameters of the artworld, Vancouver is known for being home to two generations of artists who share a history of photographing the city and its surrounds. While these artists are interested in the economic and social history of the region, they have always been influenced by cinematic images. However, a by-product of these visual representations is their proto-touristic function. By bringing attention to the location, these images positioned Vancouver on the global art-map. The artists’ photo-based works, films and videos use the same spectacular setting, but often present its more banal and sometimes abject settlements and situations. Views of parking lots, wasteland, suburbs, industrialized landscapes, trees and flowing rivers illuminate the everyday as evidence of rapid change. As a critical counterpoint to the myth of progress and utopian ideals, their body of work remains a powerful document of modernity’s transformative effects.
–excerpted from the Introduction by Kitty Scott
Smoke and Mirrors
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