Last week Vancouver was immersed in smoke from forest fires across Northern and Southern British Columbia. The smoke seemed to speak, without speaking, about our present uneasy condition. On this occasion, The Mainlander has decided to publish the long-delayed online version of a small chapbook, ‘Five Images of a City Without Buildings,’ originally published in 2012 by the artist collective coupe. The book had a short-run and was circulated at the Vancouver Art Bookfair that same year. This past fall, the Other Sights for Artist projects initiated a project called ‘Monument to Mysterious Fires,’ which began with this same premise as coupe’s text, and drew from some of the same archival photographs. Images of the Other Sights project can be found here.
Model Minority is a publication assembled by Gendai, a non-profit visual arts organization that engages the East Asian diasporic community in Canada. This volume is a collection of research in the form of essays, articles, and commissioned artist projects that broach the subject of “model minority” in North America. By combining artists projects with archival material, academic research and recent political activities, the book investigates a territory usually given exclusively to social sciences. This eccentric compilation of content diversifies the direction that an inquiry can take, “Rather than asking, what is identity? Or how do we fit in or not with the dominant culture, [these] art projects open up the complexities within experiences of migration, assimilation and internalization of being a ‘good citizen’ in negotiation with media images, racist assumptions of different neighbourhoods and communities and individual desires.”
What better place to start than with the development’s aggravating name? The Independent. An adjective made noun with a definite article, it stands alone not just in light of the word’s meaning but in its semantic structure. It embodies a built space at the same time it embodies a lifestyle. Tossing all subtlety out the window, it condescends to you in equating a space with some whitewashed version of bohemianism. It is a name that digs its heels into cultural anxieties over distinguishing oneself from the masses, and slaps you in the face with its promise to make you stick out.
In late November, 2014, Du Na Phuong (Tony) was shot by the Vancouver Police Department at the intersection of Knight Street and East 41st Avenue. Du, age 51, was waving a two-by-four plank of wood on the east side of the street. No people were nearby and nobody reported being threatened, yet police shot Du within one minute of arriving at the scene.
This spring, the provincial government will be asking Metro Vancouver residents if they approve of a new TransLink funding proposal. The social democrats are coming out of the woodwork to throw their weight behind the ‘Yes’ side in the referendum, as though it were some kind of grand cause. In reality, neither a ‘yes’ vote nor a ‘no’ vote will have an impact on the political direction of transit in our region: privatization, criminalization of the poor, racial profiling, and ‘service’ geared to corporate profits rather than people’s needs.
On June 24th, 2014, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to formally acknowledge that the city is built on the unceded territory of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Indigenous peoples. After more than a century of denial and erasure, the motion might have opened the way for real change in Vancouver. And yet when the motion was put forward, Councillor Andrea Reimer told the media that the gesture wouldn’t affect the legal practices of the City of Vancouver. “[Reimer] isn’t concerned,” reported the Toronto Sun, “about possible legal ramifications of declaring the city is on unceded territory because Vancouver is not involved in treaty negotiations and has no such authority over land.”
Last week, on November 22nd, a Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officer shot and killed a 51 year old man at the intersection of East 41st Avenue and Knight Street. The man was Phuong Na (Tony) Du. Within one minute of arriving at the scene, one of the officers drew his gun and shot Du to death. Before the shooting, Du was visibly distraught. According to eyewitnesses, Du was talking to himself while waving a piece of two-by-four wood on an empty sidewalk.