WENG FEN: THE VANISHING LANDSCAPE

Artist
WENG FEN

Curators
XIAOYAN YANG
STEVEN DRAGONN

Exhibition dates
APR 9 – JUNE 4, 2022


The Vanishing Landscape features the work of Chinese conceptual photographic artist Weng Fen 翁奮. Selected in Capture Photography Festival 2022, the exhibition will showcase his latest two series of absurd realism, The Vanishing Landscape and Learning to Live Better in this World.

Weng’s hometown, Dongjiao Town in Wenchang County, Hainan Island, has been developed into a large-scale satellite launch centre. The entire area is planned to be built into a new modern town. Reflecting on the complex psychological dilemma in balancing individual wants and community needs, the artist has turned his attention to the contradictions and conflicts brought about by the modernization of the island rural development to the land of traditional villages since 2007.

The series The Vanishing Landscape revolves around the tension between urban development and land occupation, rural land industrialization and farming, globalization and local economies, and economic planting and environmental destruction that have emerged during the process of Weng’s personal research and observation.

Learning to live better in this world is a response to the pandemic which began in January 2020. Weng and his family were isolated at home. During this period, the internet was flooded with chaotic and complicated information, which filled him with anxiety and helplessness. In order to maintain movement of his body and occupy his mind, the artist used his old golf putter and created a small golf ball from paper to imitate a golf swing. He recreated this complicated feeling in words, and the paper ball became the carrier for his resistance as he made paper balls and posters every day. This process of creation made him realize the essence of life: to live daily life to the fullest in this world.

About the artist
From a critical social research perspective, Weng Fen 翁奮 focuses on issues between people and the world, cities and villages, and land and homes that have been divided by modernity in China’s modernization movement, which reflecting on the conflicts, contradictions and crises between individuals and the real world under the background of globalization, while face the dilemmas. Focusing on local knowledge, lifestyle, history, memory, climate, environment, people, land, homes, and social psychology, he emphasizes the research and discovery of the inherent logic of local problems, and the concept of how to resist in daily life. Practice with media and methods such as photography, video, social actions, installations, ground objects and textual research, Weng’s series of photography received a world wide reputation,  the series including “riding the wall” (2001), “a bird’s-eye view” (2002), “seeing the sea” (2003), “climate image” (2007), “gazing at Ordos” (2013), and “lost homeland” (2020); His works participated in Shanghai Biennale (China 2002), Guangzhou Triennial (China 2002, 2005), Prague Biennale (Czech 2003), Liverpool Biennale-collateral events (UK 2007) and Venice Biennale-collateral events (Italy 2013), etc. as well as in group exhibitions at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the V&A Museum (London), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), and the M+ Art Museum (Hong Kong). His works are also in the permanent collection of the Centre Pompidou (Paris), MoMA (New York), the MET (New York), the International Center of Photography (New York), the Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), and the M+ Art Museum (Hong Kong) etc.

The Vanishing Landscape-A huge artificial island was built at the sea entrance of our village \ 2021 \ inkjet print \ 150x450cm \ courtesy of artist
The Vanishing Landscape-A fishing village near my home is built into a commercial complex \ 2021 \ inkjet print \ 150x268cm \ courtesy of artist
The Vanishing Landscape-the place where cattle and sheep graze in our village has been developed into an industrial zone \ 2021 \ inkjet print \ 150x268cm \ courtesy of artist
Learning to Live Better in this World | 2021 | inkjet print | 30x38cmx342pics \ courtesy of artist

Any Thing Going Away, Where Ever Remains

Exhibition Title: Any Thing Going Away, Where Ever Remains
Venue: Canton-sardine
Exhibition Date: Feb 5 – March 26, 2022
Curator: Steven Dragonn

Artists: 
Amy Li-chuan Chang
Wei Cheng
Steven Dragonn
Lixiao He
Judy Jheung
Ella Mievovsky
Rui Min
Alina Senchenko
Abi Sheng
Fabien Villon
Anne Watson
Pongsakorn Yananissorn
Peili Zhang

Statement
Are we humans shaping ourselves into what we would like to be?

Yes, perhaps, no. We work hard to be what we think we would like to be. Sometimes, we really make it happen as wish, but other times, things turn out to be different and then we trick ourselves to believe that the undesirable outcomes are simply by-product, a necessary sacrifice due to what we really want to achieve. While humans have “ruled” the world for a “long” period of time and dinosaurs had “presided” even longer, yet on the scale of our planet’s history, both periods are relatively short spans of time. Are we under- or over-exerting ourselves?

In the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) Sarah Connor says at the end of the movie: “The unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope, because if a machine, a Terminator, can learn the value of human life, maybe we can too.”

Some people claim that the conception of posthumanism may be just a hypothetical proposition. Some people say that whether it is expected or not, posthumanism is already on its way. In this exhibition, the curator does not announce a certain theory or perspective. If possible, we may hope to re-examine human nature from the anticipated status of posthumanism: May we recognize the reality of human nature, scrutinize its existence, and re-think what we are only when we disappear?

Firefly / Amy Li-chuan Chang / Ceramics, Led bulbs, wires / size variable / 2021
Firefly is one of Chang’s new pieces in a series titled Artificial Intelligence. This group of work plays with the idea of how new technology could manifest in our daily lives. Artificial intelligence transformed the firefly into a flying light bulb, which criticizes the world we live in without insects. Amy Li -Chuan Chang 張麗娟 is a Taiwanese Canadian ceramics artist based in Vancouver. She received her BFA at The Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2007. Amy is a studio artist focusing on contemporary ceramic sculpture.

Essentialist Portraiture / Wei Cheng / Ceramics / size variable / 2021
Inspired by Essentialism, the Essentialist Portraiture series intends to evoke the questions about the preset attributes of human social identities. Born and raised in China, Wei Cheng 成瑋 now lives and dedicates her art practice in Vancouver, BC. She earned her art education from Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she learned to appreciate the ceramic medium. She has been a resident artist at Alferd,  Jingdezhen and Yixin pottery center, and her professional practice has also taken her to the States and Europe.  

The Future is Our Fault & War is not over! / Steven Dragonn / Fake bullet holes on the wall, Inkjet print on papers / size variable / 2021
This conceptual piece is Dragonn’s response to Yoko Ono and John Lenon’s famous conceptual public art piece War is Over, which expresses the threat of war in our current time.  Steven Dragonn 龍邃洋 is a visual artist based in Vancouver and Guangzhou China. Graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art in China with a BFA and from University of Paris East in France with a MA, he is director, curator and founder of Canton≠sardine. He is a beyond≠Conceptualist and Neo Hyper≠real Pictorialist across communicatics and personal visual experience. Specifically, he dedicated his work to examining political and social injustice, while his main curatorial interests include individual experience, migration of minorities, minor gender, personal identities, and social political sufferance.

The 45th day / Lixiao He / Video / 5’51” / 2014
The 45th day is He’s performance video piece in the series of The continuation of 100 days, in which He made 100 performances during 100 days. This performance expresses the Artist’s childhood memory with the quick change of rural hometown without environmental consideration. Lixiao He 何利校 is a performance artist graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Art and now based in Shenzhen China. His works always reflect the problematics of body mechanism, human/ inhuman behaviors and the resistance in contemporary urbanism society.  

Love is in the Air_plastic moment / Judy Jheung / Thousand of plastic cups collected by artist during years / 12x11x2ft / 2000-2015
Love is in the Air_plastic moment is a multi-component installation that explores issues of our contemporary world that are increasingly similar and borderless, through globalized consumerism and consumption. The work project distorts travel narratives by presenting an accumulation of airline artifacts. Judy Jheung holds an MFA from Pratt Institute, New York and a BFA from University of Calgary. From 2012 to 2014, she conducted her PhD studies at Simon Fraser University. She is a recipient of numerous grant awards for her experimental projects. Her artistic practice focuses on experiential & global issues in the context of social urban movements.

Praying for Time / Ella Mievovsky / ink and oil painting on plaster, painted wood shelf / 120x6x22cm / 2022
This work is showcased as a timeline where elements of time have been fixed in several places of the world during the same day and the same hour. Using surveillance cameras that record places and humans in a random way, the artist composed a score with plaster supports that give a different rhythm and underline the event that is inscribed. Praying for time is the uncompromising look of a machine on the human and the world. Will the traces we leave be readable for future generations? What to read of our time? Ella Mievovsky is a French/Russian artist based in Moscow and Lyon. She graduated from Rodchencko art school in Russia in 2019. Her work has been mainly seen in several group shows in Moscow, Paris and Lyon. She questions our perception of images through new technologies.

Old waste land / Rui Min / Video / 4’40” / 2020 
An Old Waste Land eliminates the popularity of video-type social apps such as Tiktok and Kwai with the right of speech in the underclass society. Enabling the shout out of their own voice, the random square-dancing, the occasional unreasonable behavior in the public space, have formed a real but mysterious. Rui Min 閔睿 graduated from Xi’an Academy of Fine Arts, China. He focused on the relationship between photographic and non-photographic media, and integrated, processed and re-presented existing information. He also reinvents established fields, visual forms to show a continuum of data.

Fireworks look better from a distance / Alina Senchenko / Video, artist book / 4x8ft / 2022
The work navigates experiences of witnesses of fireworks and missiles using amateur video clips, audio and storytelling highlighting the blurry lines between excitement and horror. By juxtaposing the experience of war and celebration together with the personal stories related to the occasions the work questions the notion of spectatorship and war in the 21st century in light of rising conflict in particular in Ukraine. Alina Senchenko is a Ukrainian born visual artist. With photography as the foundation of her practice she has sought to explore contemporary events and representations of Ukraine. This work at times involves photography, the appropriation of mass media images, found historical photographs, video and text.    

Quantum Paradox / Abi Sheng / Video / 1’54” / 2021
What is essential to you is your computational configuration…Once the body is a transformative form, we are free and will be united in diversity, in the feed, the cosmological consciousness. Abi Sheng 盛欣瑜 is a body engineer whose work is devoted to rebuilding the identity system and constructing a utopia for equality by offering a system for customizable, transformative physical appearances and body modifications through fashion. Graduated from Royal College of Art in London, UK with a MA, she is developing the idea of re-engineering bodies with generative design, combing anatomy, and mechanical engineering. 

I Do / Anne Watson / Video / 7’56” / 2010
This video, filmed in 2010 at the Great Salt Lake in Utah, symbolizes the marriage of air to water/earth and the artist to her own death. Anne Watson is an American/Canadian installation and video artist.  Her work has appeared in over 30 group and solo shows in North America and Europe. She received her MFA from New York University in the US. Her works express the elasticity of time, considerations of place and self, reflections and transparency, and the connections between earth and air and our place in it all.

Fruit / Fabien Villon / Latex mask of the artist face with metal and pigments powders, glass sculpture made with Ferrari Testarossa gas emission, stainless steel hooks / 23x28x25cm / 2021

Chocolate / Fabien Villon / Copper, gold, silver and pigment powders on blanket, glue, varnish, stainless steel hooks / / 180x130x7cm / 2021
Fruit is a kind of self-portrait of the artist’s face and a glass sculpture blown with exhaust gas from a sports car instead of human breath. Pollution replaces human breath in a random man / machine confrontation – full and empty, soft and hard, a bubble of dreams and nightmares. Chocolate belongs to a series of experimentations with several techniques borrowed from the scientific police to sublimate damaged windscreen prints. Fabien Villon is a French artist, curator and teacher. He graduated from ENSAD Paris and UDK, Berlin. He mainly experiments with the passing of time and accident as a reflective and elastic substance between material, imagery and environment, a way to question our relationship to progress, technology and nature.

Tale of Ten Suns / Pongsakorn Yananissorn / Video / 7’ (multiple videos), metal, golden foil, tv screen / 2022 
Tale of Ten Suns is a non linear narrative on the human conquest of time. From water clocks to satellites, mythology weaves with scientific colonialism to tame the concept of time and thus control the flow of progress. When all possibilities cannot be exhausted within daylight, we ought to create our own suns. Pongsakorn Yananissorn is an artist  and curator based in Bangkok,Thailand. He is a member of Chareon Contemporaries collective as well as curator of Speedy Grandma art space. He works around configurations of systems and tracing narratives of histories through languages. Additionally, he is committed to instigate and create different modes of living and working together through employing shared fictions.

A live broadcast that may last for several years / Peili Zhang / Video of live streaming / 2021-
A live broadcast that may last for several years questioning the sustainability of human power, ideology, and the domination of nowhere or anywhere.  Renowned as “the godfather of video art in mainland China”, Peili Zhang 張培力 is a pivotal artist in Chinese contemporary art and a critical figure in video art worldwide. He received an MFA from China Academy of Fine Arts, and was affiliated with the ’85 New Wave movement. His work is based on a critique of the ideology and the methodology that perpetuate systems of social representation, especially language and meaning, and time as the most basic fact of existence.

KRISTIN MAN: A-MARE

ARTIST
KRISTIN MAN

CURATOR
Steven Dragonn

EXHIBITION DATES
Sep 25 – Nov 27, 2021


A-MARE to love – to sea 心滙

Why A-MARE? In Italian “amare” is the verb to love, “al mare” means to the sea; ”ma” universally alludes to “mother” and similarly, the Chinese ideogram of “sea” contains the ideogram of “mother”. Kristin Man, whose cognitive process encompasses English, Cantonese and Italian, ponders, “if to go to the sea is to love, then there is really no specific location where we are to love. If to be closer to the sea means to be closer to the source of life, then there is no better reminder of our connectedness than the ocean because of its presence and its fluidity”. Having lived in sea places such as Hong Kong, both sides of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and travelled through many more and now based in Vancouver, she feels a special affinity towards the ocean overall. Realities have our ocean embody not only some of the deepest pains and pleasures but practicalities that connect us. Through A-MARE, the artist encourages the viewer to ask questions pertinent to their personal and our collective experience of what “to love” may mean— “through my artworks of love and sea shall we meet?”

A-MARE portrays relationships and relational identity with a delicate visual vocabulary. In fact, A-MARE traverses mediums and challenges the limits of how we could think not just about our existence but also about photography. This series contains stories that are personal and universal. The original images have been made around the world with a focus on the seas where Kristin has been.  Afterwhich, they are cut, layered and woven into a different composition and form by hand with a meditative attention inspired by her early photographic dark room experience. The physicality is conveyed because intersecting is an act of meeting and negotiating. Yet, the materiality in turn points towards a transcendental synthesis of what is variegated and what is shared. Concurring with Carl Jung: “The sea is the favourite symbol for the unconscious, the mother of all that lives”, therefore, it is an element of conveyance, a symbol rather than literally the theme. Likewise the locality of the place serves as a backdrop which enhances the subject. In fact, one may get a sense that as soon as a characteristic of a particular place is identified, the line crosses and renegotiates the confines.While A-MARE as a series has been shown in Spain, Italy and Canada, this is the first time where Kristin collaborates with Chimerik 似不像 (as a community partner) on a new media installation piece which allows the audience to play an active part in “weaving” new images through their individual somatics.

Born in Hong Kong, after many projects such as authoring two photography-cum-poetry books in Singapore and Italy, respectively, Kristin Man is now based in Vancouver. She is an interdisciplinary artist who questions borders whether they be of mediums and/or social identities which are limiting the dimensions of our true existence. Kristin holds an IB from United World College of the Atlantic in the UK, a BA from Brown University and an MBA from Columbia University in the US. Her spiritual and philosophical research which is intertwined in her art has led her to becoming a certified yoga teacher. Her cross-sectoral and international experience gives her a different vision of the world which in turn permeates her creativity. 

About the artist
Born in Hong Kong, Kristin Man is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Vancouver. She holds a BA from Brown University, Rhode Island and an MBA from Columbia University, New York. She attributes the concepts in her art to her experience of attending United World College of the Atlantic which is a microcosm of multiculturalism and social consciousness contributed by students from 70 countries at the time of her attendance. She is mostly recognized as a photographer, but is also a writer, mainly of poetry. She is an author of two photography-cum-poetry books “Fragments of Grey Matter” (Tokyo TDC book prize 2014) and “9_9” (Skira). She draws influence from the human condition, her multi-disciplinary education, her yoga practice (as a certified teacher) and her personal compass which enables her to belong everywhere and nowhere. Kristin focuses on the themes of “connection” and “relational identity”, and encourages the viewers of her work to ask questions on what “being human” might mean. Kristin has exhibited internationally and her work is in the collection of private foundations and individuals. She has presented her work at institutions such as the Museum of Anthropology and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden in Vancouver, the Italian National Archives in Rome, Rizzoli in Milan, the Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art in Naples, and PAN Palazzo delle Arti Napoli. Her works have been featured in the media such as Exibart, Artribune, Corriere della Sera, La Repubblica,  Il Mattino, TV Mattino 9 and the Burnaby Arts Council’s website.

Wind Fire Sea
O(range) Canada

Further Reading:
Vancouver: Trying to see the sea, like fathoming love and the unconscious | Review by Dion Kliner | Nov. 6, 2021


SubHuman: a feminist contemplation of the body

ARTISTs
LIN XIN, ZHOU RAN

CURATOR
YUBING GUO

EXHIBITION DATES
AUG 10 – SEPT 11, 2021

GALLERY HOURS
TU–Sa: 12–6 PM; M, SU: CLOSED


SubHuman: a feminist contemplation of the body features current works by two Chinese women artists, Wuhan-based Lin Xin and Vancouver-based Zhou Ran. In this exhibition, Lin and Zhou incorporate their thinking about the body and gendered experiences with socio-cultural themes in their art.  

An anchor of this exhibition is the body, body of a woman, a doll, a cyborg, and an abstract form of existence. While subhuman means “a being of a lower level of morality or intelligence than the human,” the strikethrough Sub intends to pose a provocative question and invite thoughts on the social construction of women and the cyborg in a transtemporal sense. 

Lin Xin is a multimedia artist and associate professor at Hubei Institute of Fine Arts in China. Lin’s art focuses on digital media and its interaction with reality. Her practice includes oil paintings, digital images, and lighting installations, which lead the audience into an alternative reality of cyberspace.

Zhou Ran is a visual artist whose practice is influenced by her continuous movement across different cultures. Transcending specific national restrictions and traditional concepts, Zhou’s art creates a subtle space located at crevices between the concept of contemporary culture and individual awareness in a time of globalization. 

SubHuman: a feminist contemplation of the body is curated by Yubing Guo, a candidate for the MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the University of British Columbia. The project is presented by Canton-sardine with support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia.

Metal Mask 004, 2011, by Lin Xin
Broken Core No.1, 2011, by Lin Xin
Doll + Body Transmigration in its Ideal Fantasy, 2020, by Zhou Ran
Doll + Body Transmigration in its Ideal Fantasy, 2020, by Zhou Ran

A Short Description of the DDR

Text / Vincent Trasov

How to describe life in the German Democratic Republic? Stasi, Berlin wall, barbed wire, state run economy – or affordable rent, subsidized foods, adequate child care? Life was real socialism.

In the forty years existence of the DDR there was always a clash between state policy and the individual in daily life, fashion, and the arts. Freedom of expression was not guaranteed. Content and form were under the control of the one party, the German Socialist Unity Party, the SED Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschland. It was an authoritarian state. There was censorship and surveillance. Despite restrictions and controls an underground subculture existed in the arts, religion and politics. There was much private initiative and creativity. Jürgen Schweinebraden founded the Wohn-und Alternativgalerie EP Galerie in East Berlin in 1974. He exhibited concept, performance, video and mail art from the west, until the gallery was closed in 1980 for illegal press and publicizing. His gallery was a model for similar galleries which sprang up in the DDR and formed the alternative art scene. One of the few forms of communication with the outside world was mail art. DDR mail artists took their chances, as the post was censored.

To survive as an artist one had to be a member of a visual arts, writer’s or musician’s union. For many artists existence depended on government grants and commissions. Nonconformity often meant career suicide and in some cases prison. There was always the danger of being denounced.

The official dogma was social realism. It was possible to deviate from this course, but it was seldom acknowledged or supported. As an artist following the party line you could exist and work relatively easily. Although there were periods of relaxed censorship there was always uncertainty and distrust.

There was a housing shortage. To find an apartment meant untold hassles with authorities, letters to leader Erich Honecker, endless searching in the want ads, dubious contracts, trade-offs and fraud. Even in 1989 at the end of the DDR more than a quarter of all older apartments only had plumbing in the stairwell or courtyard and were shared by multiple families. There were neither showers nor bathtubs. One washed at the kitchen sink. There were neither finances nor the political will to modernize older buildings. New levels of comfort and functionality were promised with the era of Plattenbau, cheap high rise apartments towards the end of the 1960s. 

Leisure, squeezed in between job and family responsibility and overcoming economic shortages, was spent in cultural activity. Books (censored), libraries and bookshops were plentiful. Quality classical concerts and opera were reasonably priced. By the 1960s everybody had television, after 1969 color. There was one state run television station and several radio stations. Children’s programs, like “Das Sandmännchen“ (“The Little Sandman”) were popular. This program exists on German television today. With the exception of areas in the country where there was no reception, DDR viewers also tuned  into West German television, mostly critical of the DDR. Officially it was not allowed to watch West German television, but everybody did. West German television played a major part in accelerating the revolution of 1989. It was like crowd strikes today. People would return from Monday night demonstrations and see that their solidarity protests were succeeding.

During weekends and holidays, people got out of the confinements of their apartments. Friday afternoons the family took off with packsack and supplies to the datscha (country bungalow).

They were passionate of the outdoors, including the Baltic Sea, where FDGB (worker’s union) lodgings were popular, but in short supply. Even on holiday, recreation was meant to be a socialist experience; e.g., the “Rote Ecken”, agitprop red squares everywhere to honor the workers’ movement.

Nudist camps and nude sunbathing (FKK Freie Körper Kultur) were popular. There were nudist camps along the entire Baltic coast and at most outdoor recreation centres.

Travel was restricted. Apart from not being allowed to travel in the West, even travel within the Iron Curtain was curtailed. Shortages of private lodgings made individual travel impossible. An exception was camping, but unfortunately a lack of campsites. Youth slept under the stars. 

East German design conformed to the planned economy. In the East and West it was praised and ridiculed. Objects were meant to last. Quality, functionalism and the minimum need for raw materials was standard. Simple form followed the scarcity of raw materials but also the pursuit of a new cultural identity. Many DDR products are timeless, the reason being their simplicity and ergonomic form. The 1960s was the zenith of DDR design. After that the economy switched to plastics, with the slogan “Chemicals provide food, quality of life and beauty”. Practical and low cost articles were mass produced. These new products were meant to free the country from expensive imports from the West. Advertising was discontinued after 1972, as production couldn’t keep up with demand. In the seventies more and more private businesses were expropriated, suppressing individual initiative. The planned economy was very inflexible and couldn’t respond fast enough to demand. The state decided peoples’ tastes. Quality suffered due to the motto “Mass production before quality”. More and more quality products were exported in exchange for much needed foreign currency. There weren’t enough quality products for the domestic market. Often there was a stark deviation of the design, due to factors like unavailability of colour, raw material or run down factories and machinery. Many staples like bread never changed price. A bun always cost 5 pfennig. Luxury items, like a nice shirt or tropical fruit, were sold in specialty stores, and were expensive. There was a waiting list for years for an auto, electronics, or telephone. One waited 12 years for a “Trabbi” car. A kilo of coffee cost 70 Mark. Restaurants and grocery stores were state run. Somehow a minimum existence was guaranteed.

The DDR was always short of materials. To offset this there was a vigorous program of recycling secondary materials. Under the SERO drop off program recycling was paid for and thus encouraged. There was a return on glass, paper, cardboard, as well as metal, textiles and plastics. The program was ahead of its time. Unfortunately it did not translate into protection of the environment. The environment was polluted.

By the late 1960s the idea of modern design and the radicalism of Bauhaus and inter war formalism were considered decadent and elitist. During the time of Erich Honecker’s leadership, 1971–1989, DDR vision had become kitch and bourgeois, albeit continuing lip service to the idea of a workers’ and farmers’ state. 

DDR was a patriarchal society. Officially homosexuality did not exist, although there were a few gay bars in East Berlin, “Burgfrieden” and “Likör”. Discussion about same sex was a taboo. Sexual minorities were persecuted. The protestant church played an important role in the history of the homosexual movement. The church, which was very active in the peace movement and was instrumental in supporting political opposition and self-help groups, opened its doors to queer groups and their activism. Under the protection of the church the state could not intervene. Persecution of dissidents (anders denken) led to much despair and high suicide rates.

DDR citizens voted in 1990 in the first free election to disband the country and join the Federal Republic of Germany, resulting in reunification October 3, 1990. The mid 1990s witnessed the civil rights movements of the former DDR fusing with the West German greens. The former activists did not play a role anymore. There is no conception today of what it meant to have lived as an opposition activist in the DDR. 

Image Bank & Morris/Trasov Archive

Founded in 1970 by Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov the Image Bank helped facilitate the exchange of ideas, images and information between artists through the use of the postal system. Image Bank compiled and printed address and image requests lists that were sent to participants through the mail creating an open ended decentralized method of networking. The possibilities inherent in this kind of activity are limited only by the imagination so it is not hard to draw parallels between the pioneering work of the Image Bank and the later development of e-mail and the internet. As the Image Bank acted as both a clearing house and depository Morris and Trasov realized the importance of creating an archive to document and preserve the material accumulated from their activities. The concept of an artist’s archive or artist’s museum accounting for the concerns of a lifetime exists, the most famous is Duchamp’s “Green Box”. Other important examples include Ray Johnson’s “New York Correspondence School”, Robert Filliou’s concept of an “Eternal Network”, Daniel Spoerri’s ideas as outlined in his “An Anecdoted Topography of Chance”, Claus Oldenburg’s “Mouse Museum” and General Idea’s proposals for “The Miss General Idea Pavilion”. In 1973 Morris and Trasov helped found and direct the Western Front Society, Vancouver’s first artist run centre. The Western Front remains to this day a centre dedicated to the production and presentation of new art activity. The contribution of Morris and Trasov to the Western Front’s events and visiting artist program, the directory issues of General Idea’s File Magazine, the “The Miss General Idea Beauty Pageant” as well as Trasov’s entry into the mayoralty race for the 1974 Vancouver civic election as Mr. Peanut are legend. All these activities have helped create the climate of ideas that have contributed to the recognition of Vancouver today as a major centre for contemporary art activity. Morris and Trasov left their duties at the Western Front in 1981 to accept a DAAD residency in Berlin. While there they pursued their interest in performance and video, participating in numerous events and exhibitions in Germany and around Europe throughout the decade and beyond. In 2019, a retrospective exhibition of the work of Image Bank was held at Kunst Werke in Berlin.

An invitation from the Banff Centre in 1990 to a residency dedicated to preserve and accession of the accumulation of material comprising the Image Bank legacy left in storage at the Western Front resulted in the creation of the Morris/Trasov Archive. Since 1993 the archive has been housed at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery in University of British Columbia, thanks to the support of Scott Watson, the gallery’s director. Numerous research projects, exhibitions and publications have resulted, including “How Sad I Am Today” a major survey exhibition and publication of the art of Ray Johnson and the New York Correspondence School, “Hand of the Spirit, Documents from the Seventies from the Morris/Trasov Archive” and “Image Bank Colour Research” for the 1994 Sao Paulo Biennial. The archive as the lifelong project of Morris and Trasov has meant casting a large net. It is time to pull that net in and make the connections that will link all the items in it to each other.