Monday, March 8, 2010

Thank you to those who attended my talk yesterday on the exhibition "to show, to give, to make it be there": Expanded Literary Practices in Vancouver, 1954 to 1969. Thanks also to the Kootenay School of Writing for hosting the event, and to W2 for supplying the venue.

As is often the case with talks, things go missing, get left unsaid, some of which were pointed out to me, such as Carole Itter’s involvement in the interior composition of the Dollarton shack she and Al Neil have inhabited the past thirty years (though I mentioned Carole’s involvement in the hand-out essay). Also, a closer look at Judith Copithorne’s drawings, the interplay of text and line, how those lines, in shadowing their word shapes (Copithorne used a calligraphy nib), enter into new forms; not as reverberation lines but, after chevrons, ovoids -- the ovoid and the geodesic being our city’s two most enduring motifs.

Also pointed out was the emphasis on DIY production (Gestetners, Roneos) and collaboration. Though I began with Malcolm Lowry’s Through the Panama (1954), and Margery Lowry’s involvement in the text (both as stenographer and editor), I could have made more of bill bissett and Martina Clinton’s partnership in the production of blewointment magazine. Indeed, a whole new exhibition could be conceived based on covivant collaborations, perhaps the best known being the work of Ian and Ingrid Baxter, who for much of the 1960s and 70s went by the name of N.E. Thing Co.


  1. I had the privilege of spending a few hours up at SFU the day before your talk at the Perel Gallery. Bill was incredibly generous with his time and gave me a fairly thorough tour of the show. It was special to hear your own thoughts about working through connections between time, form, means of production and human relationships.

    I keep thinking about materials, land and time; about paper, found items, ink, wood and refuse; about derelict space, the fringes of the city, industry and the wild. I have questions about the speed of production and correspondence. What time did it take to produce, edit, copy and consume? What were the boundaries and where were the fringes? How much did the land, the weather and the edges of Vancouer inform the work and the conversation? Was there a conversation and a collaboration with the land? Was it unspoken?

    I think there are hints and clues in most of the pieces (as well as some secrets). I particularly fell in love with the Bill Bissett documentary and In Search of Innocence. It’s incredible the way that film can haunt a space with spectres of people and places from an intangible time. There’s something about the way that Bill moves through the city and interprets it; and scenes of the filmmaker wandering amongst the strewn logs inter cut with artists talking about their works, and ideas. They resonate in a way that I can’t put my finger on. It’s sensual. There’s further evidence in Tom Burrow’s Hoop photograph, which locates a shifting between abstraction and figuration literally in the soil. In your essay you write, "It could be said that modern Vancouver writing began in two places: atop the bluffs at UBC, with English professor Earle Birney, and in a seaside shack at the city’s eastern edge – the Dollarton home of ukelele-playing Malcolm Lowry." I suppose any histories of artists relationship between home, land and practice is represented by the Artist’s Cabin photograph.

    Ok. Michael, Thank you so much for this show, your time and your consideration.amy

  2. I wish I could have made it Michael, but the gallery called. xo Charo