This year, an art exhibit and series of workshops have been organized to recognize International Day Against Police Brutality in so-called Vancouver, on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nations. The show, Honour Their Names, is organized by the Justice For Jared campaign, and is bringing attention to police murder and violence against Indigenous people across the territory colonially known as Canada.

end renovictions now

What follows is a personal essay written by a long-term resident of Belvedere Court, Sean MacPherson. The Belvedere is a rental apartment in Vancouver that has recently been in the news following a wave of efforts to evict, intimidate, and coerce the residents into leaving their homes. In response, tenants have organized – with the support of the Vancouver Tenants Union – to protect their right to housing and preserve Vancouver’s vital affordable rental stock.

Thompson Square Park Riots, New York City, August 6, 1988. Photograph by Ángel Franco, The New York Times

Vancouver Mural Festival, at the core of its structure, does not represent a culturally diverse or marginal perspective as you might expect from a mural festival. Instead it is the initiative of a group of predominantly white men who have built alliances, not with the everyday people of Vancouver, but with real estate developers, Business Improvement Associations (BIAs) and the City government.

Roy Arden, Tree Stump, Nanaimo B.C., 1991

In Vancouver, there is no image of nature that is not at the same time an image of private property. Possession structures the visual culture and economy of the image. Whether this image is a meticulously crafted photograph for a condo advertisement staged in False Creek, or a self-portrait posed for at the top of Grouse Mountain, almost always the photograph is invested with an inflated sense of status, projection, and desire. And regardless of whether the image circulates on Instagram or Twitter, Grindr or the gallery system, the image is strictly that of appearance, never perceived as the product of labor or violence. Its value is measured by likes, dates,♡, second dates, re-posts, and most importantly, in the context of real estate, the inflation of the property’s price-tag. The possession of nature goes hand-in-hand with nature’s commodification.