Learning From Vancouver (in Dialogue)
: a project developed by Bik Van der Pol & Urban Subjects
(Sabine Bitter, Jeff Derksen, Helmut Weber)
Bik Van der Pol and Urban Subjects have been working together, thinking Vancouver spatially and through linked, yet specific moments; moments in the past and the future that articulate a change in the space and experience of the public sphere.
Vancouver has increasingly developed and manifested itself as a unique model for other cities. Yet, in film and television, Vancouver does not often play itself; it frequently stands in for other metropolises. Correspondingly, as the image of Vancouver has become familiar globally, an image of urbanism based on Vancouver has, and continues to have, a perplexing impact on urban planners throughout the world.
At this moment of Olympic exceptionalism, Vancouver is being broadcast world-wide, carefully framed by its mountains and the ocean. In grabbing their “beauty shots” of Vancouver for establishment shots, the global media enters into the long politics of representation. This image of the city shines a light on the natural setting , the Vancouver Model,
the sustainable city and the tolerant multicultural city, while painting the Downtown Eastside and the people who make it the political centre of the city as shadowy, “troubled” and in need of urban renewal.
What is the backside of these images that create a specific type of imagination outside the city -- and what is the impact on everyday lives? What effect do urban planning and the imagination of developers have on constructing public space and a public imagery? How does this distort the potential of ‘building a community’, when the building of communities is increasingly a global experience? What does it mean to experience space and the representation of space?
I confess I care , by Bik van der Pol, emphasizes on the growing limitations of the public realm. The brown box in the gallery of the Western Front is the creation of a space for forms of public speech that have been shut down in the Olympic moment. This box is a discursive vehicle. It accommodates one, two, or three people, and can be closed, creating an intimate space. But, the box is fully wired for sound -- everything discussed is recorded.