|JENNIFER ALLORA & GUILLERMO CALZADILLA
THE ATLAS GROUP/WALID RAAD
TERRITORY is a visual art project concerned with mapping urban experience, civic space and contested terrains. The project includes installations at Artspeak and Presentation House Gallery as well as in public sites around Vancouver, guided walks, lectures, a film series, and publication.
The works in TERRITORY involve navigating real and imagined territories – geographic, political, economic and social. The exhibition expands on earlier articulations of the notion of derive, or wandering, as a way to investigate urban environments. Cities are understood as essentially unreadable cartographies, fragmented and unstable. This project points to the spatial collisions of urban life, such as those resulting from rapid urban development and increased privitization of public space. The works in TERRITORY reveal how cultural mythologies, both local and global, are scripted into built environments and determine human interactions. The social impact of the often invisible boundaries delineated by political conflict, gentrification, security, and communication systems becomes apparent as the artists call attention to the intersections of psychological, social and physical space.
Five artworks have been commissioned for the public domain: photographic billboards by Roy Arden, roaming mobile signboards by Ron Terada, soil transplants by Germaine Koh, photographs by Jayce Salloum dispersed through various distribution systems, and silkscreens postered around the city by Seripop. Encountered by chance and through uncanny recognition, these ephemeral works provoke tensions between public and private space. Distinctions between private acts and communal life are seen as porous. These artists temporarily occupy and lay claim to civic terrain and transient street life.
Presentation House Gallery will be exhibiting the work of five artists that offers poetic interpretations of the conditions that impact global cities. Footage of an industrial port in China’s Pearl River Delta by Puerto-Rican based artists, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, offers a meditation on global economies. Yael Bartana, an Israeli artist living in Amsterdam, manipulates images of street demonstrations by Israeli and Palestinian youth. The documentary material about post-civil war Beirut by the Atlas Group / Walid Raad, working out of New York and Lebanon, questions the representation of urban ruination and political violence. Gonzalo Lebrija, from Guadalajara, Mexico, looks at the potential violence of collective behaviour in street culture. Cao Fei, one of China’s most notable young artists, tracks the daily routines of a milkman in Guangzhou where she lives. Artspeak will present two of her media works that are concerned with urban fantasies and cultural mythologies.
TERRITORY also involves mapping the city through guided walks from literary, visual art and architectural perspectives that will bring to light some of its hidden narratives. Michael Barnholden will animate the events of two downtown riots, Neil Wedman will interpret the history of sidewalks, and Annabel Vaughan will trace threads of Vancouver’s original urban grid.
A catalogue co-published by Presentation House Gallery and Artspeak accompanies the exhibition and includes writing by Michael Barnholden, Germaine Koh, Melanie O’Brian, Helga Pakasaar, Michael Turner, Annabel Vaughan and Neil Wedman
TERRITORY is co-sponsored by Presentation House Gallery and and Artspeak and is organized by Melanie O’Brian (Director/Curator, Artspeak) and Helga Pakasaar (Curator, PHG).