Last spring, an Economist article declared Vienna, Geneva, and Vancouver to be “mind-numbingly boring” cities. The concept is well worn. The author of the article doesn’t claim to be making some grand statement on Vancouver. Nonetheless, Vancouverites responded explosively. A lot rests on our city being desirable. There’s a looming sense that somehow this matters. Even in local artistic communities, defined by a sort of rejection of the placid kind of fun that Vancouver offers, musicians and artists and label-heads are quick to reject the title “No Fun City.”
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.
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.
The Arts + Culture Supplement hopes to foster and support dialogues with the arts through the publication of writing about events in Vancouver, including public lectures, shows, festivals, film screenings and other cultural projects. The supplement will support both established and emerging writers working in the form of narrative essays, art writing, interviews and reviews.
Often, we liken cafés to living rooms due to their hospitable decorum. To apply that comparison to a concert floor, however, is much less precedented. On an overcast summer evening, I arrived at Sunset Terrace, an independently operated gallery in East Vancouver, to find an impressive makeshift tent fashioned from tarps, rope and planks of wood. Beneath the tent was a selection of inviting armchairs, stools, and ottomans stationed upon Mexican blankets strewn like area rugs where audiences could sit crossed-legged for the evening’s lineup.
Beyond the highly publicized and debated issues that pertain to Vancouver’s visual and physical space, mainly focused on the much publicized Downtown Eastside, there is a competition for sonic space that has gone largely unnoticed. Noise Pollution caused by the rapid development of condominiums dominates Vancouver’s soundscape, while the relatively minor sound intrusions of live music — in the streets, in public venues, or private spaces — is regularly restricted by city officials. This discrepancy exists largely as a result of Vancouver’s Noise Control by-law, which has a strong bias towards developer-friendly regulations, and shrouds musical/cultural sound policy in a cloud of ambiguity, hyper-regulation and selective enforcement.
In the spring of 2012, the City of Vancouver’s engineering department passed a revealing by-law. It stated that no longer could bagpipes or percussion instruments be played in the streets of the city. The engineering department claimed to have based their decision on “noise concerns”, but whether or not they were conscious of it, their disruption of legitimate street music was actually ideologically motivated. There is a trend in Vancouver toward anti-cultural and pro-developer policies concerning noise.