Learning from Vancouver

/ Opening @ 8:00pm

Bik Van der Pol and Urban Subjects: in dialogue. Curated by Alissa Firth-Eagland and Johan Lundh.

Symposium: January 29 to 31, 2010

According to a recent survey prepared by Mercer Consulting, the world’s largest human resource firm specializing in investments and outsourcing, Vancouver is now the fourth most livable city in the world establishing it as an increasingly popular model for urban development. The survey, which effectively confers world-class status on the city, sparks obvious questions about Vancouver and its role in the global imaginary. Why is Vancouver the only North American city in the top ten? What images of the city are created and circulated to represent this livability, and what do such images signify?

The title of this project, Learning from Vancouver, comes from a commissioned work by Dutch artist duo Bik Van der Pol (Rotterdam, NL). This exhibition marks the first presentation of their practice in Canada. Bik Van der Pol’s work will be presented together with a work by the collective Urban Subjects (Vienna AT and Vancouver, CA) that is in formal and thematic dialogue.

Liesbeth Bik and Jos Van der Pol, known as Bik Van der Pol, have worked collectively since 1995. They have researched and developed this work during two residencies at the Western Front in 2009 and 2010. Their practice explores the potential of art to produce and transmit knowledge and research methods of how to activate situations in order to create a platform for various kinds of communicative activities. Bik Van der Pol’s works has been shown extensively, for instance at Art In General (New York, US); ISP Whitney (New York, US); Marie Louise Hessel Museum/CCS Bard (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY); Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam, NL); Van Abbe Museum (Eindhoven, NL); Witte de With (Rotterdam, NL).

Urban Subjects is a visual research collective formed by Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, and Helmut Weber, developing interdisciplinary artistic projects focusing on urban issues. They recently published the book Autogestion, or Henri Lefebvre in New Belgrade, with a previously unpublished manuscript by Lefebvre (Fillip, Vancouver, CA and Sternberg Press, Berlin, DE) and have another edited volume, Not Sheep: New Urban Enclosures and Commons forthcoming. They are currently developing an international exhibition on the urban effects of Olympics and Expos, Where the World Was: Cities After Global Mega-events and are working on a project on new forms of autogestion in relation to the state in Caracas, Venezuela.

Learning from Vancouver will engage diverse local communities in live conversation about Vancouver and its image through a range of entry points, all free to the public. In addition to the exhibition, a three-day symposium headed by distinguished local and international speakers will unpack current mediatizations and images of the city: Bik Van der Pol (Rotterdam, NL); Clint Burnham (Vancouver, CA); Paul de Guzman (Vancouver, CA); Alissa Firth-Eagland and Johan Lundh (Grenoble, FR and New York, US); Hadley + Maxwell (Berlin, DE); Candice Hopkins (Ottawa, CA); Fiona Jeffries (New York, US); Am Johal (Vancouver, CA); Laiwan (Vancouver, CA); Randy Lee Cutler (Vancouver, CA); Kristina Lee Podesva (Vancouver, CA); Glen Lowry (Vancouver, CA); Tom Sherman (Syracuse, US); Matthew Soules (Vancouver, CA); Monika Szewczyk (Berlin, DE and Rotterdam, NL); Althea Thauberger (Vancouver, CA); Henry Tsang (Vancouver, CA), Urban Subjects: Jeff Derksen, Sabine Bitter and Helmut Weber (Vancouver, CA and Vienna, AT); and Amy Zion (Vancouver, CA).

Learning from Vancouver is produced with the generous support of a Canada Council for the Arts Media Arts Dissemination Project Grant and the Mondriaan Foundation.

The Western Front gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council through the Government of British Columbia, the City of Vancouver, Direct Access Gaming, our members and volunteers. The Western Front is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist-Run Centres (PAARC).