Saturday, April 29, 2017

What Blue

Behind Main Street (to the west), West Broadway (to the south) and Kingsway (to the east).

Friday, April 28, 2017

Never My Love (1967)

The Association of Blue Plastic Lip-Synchers -- singing one of the most beautiful songs I know.

Here they are opening the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival:

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Trips Festival (1966)

Another screen grab, this one from unaired CBC footage shot at the Trips Festival at the end of July, 1966.

Below is the Trips Festival poster, with a calligraphic work by Judith Copithorne in the centre panel? (Nope, says Judith, "maybe Jack Wise.")

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

.art registration period

It appears that the worker in Rodchenko's poster forgot to include the hyphen when shouting, "e-flux."

Only two weeks left in the ominously-titled ".art registration period," according to e(ntrepreneur)-flux's Anton Vidokle. Come May 9th the draw-bridge comes up and those not aboard this Russian's arc will miss out on the cheese plate that is the Revolution's centenary.

Here is what the e-fluxetariat sent out this morning:

"This struggle must be organised, according to 'all the rules of the art,' by people who are professionally engaged in revolutionary activity."
–Vladimir Lenin, What Is To Be Done?, 1901
The centenary of the October Revolution is around the corner.
So is the end of the .ART professional registration period—on May 9 to be exact. After that you might lose out on your top choice of best domain names, and more popular names will get pricier.
Join our comrades at ICA LondonPara SiteStedelijk and many others across the planet. Get a registration token at
Questions? Email
And here is a sample of what Vidokle told the Guardian last month:
'Being an artist implies a normative departure from bourgeois society. It’s a different kind of extension because it refers to a different lifestyle, so, unlike other domains, .art has the capacity to draw artists and institutions to itself.'

Yes, "implies" is the right (and careful) word. But is "different"? As for "itself," I reminded of the Borg.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Easter Bee-In

So many bees, so few croci.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sign of the Times

When I first saw this sign I thought it said WELCOME TO WHITENESS.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

No Time to Waste

Much of what ails me about our contemporary condition can be found in this inadvertent artwork.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Final Walk-Through

Last Monday SFU Audain Gallery curator Amy Kazymerchyk, Western Front Executive Director Caitlin Jones, Griffin Art Projects Director Lee Plested and CSA co-founder and curator Steven Tong came together for a final walk-through of the VAG's Ambivalent Pleasures exhibition. It was my pleasure to hold the microphone and listen as the group spoke with eloquence, insight and honesty of a show comprised of work by artists that the four have worked with in the past (a number of the works on display were first shown at their galleries), but also of a curatorial frame that, for this sound recordist, has more in common with expediency and brute pragmatism than lyricism and risk.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

A Museum is a School (2009-)

I am not sure what the conditions are for the display of Luis Camnitzer's The Museum is a School (2009-), but every time I see its text, the punctuation is different.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Grand Piano Rattle: a Bosendorfer for Al Neil (1984)

Carole Itter graduated from Magee Secondary the same year as my mom. Carole is this year's recipient of the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts. Congratulations Carole!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Le Piano (1955)

Another painting by de Stael. This one has a piano in it as well. (And a bass-shaped rug?)

Monday, April 17, 2017

"I have not the strength to complete my paintings"

So said Nicolaus de Stael in a note, written in French, before jumping to his death in 1955.

Le Concert (1955) was de Stael's largest -- and last -- painting.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Claire Bishop

The Vancouver Public Library Main Branch has a selection of new titles on display. The one above caught my eye.

Could it be? I asked myself. Then I noticed it's a fiction, a novel. But the question remained.

Here is Bishop's essay "Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship" and here is Documenta 14 curator Monika Szewczyk's post on Rick Lowe that draws attention to "the pedestrian in his art."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Is Kassel Burning?

If you are not doing anything and you think you see smoke coming out of Kassel, Germany's Fredericianum tower, call this number +49 561 78840. A message will be relayed to an embedded professional. He or she will get up, check for fire, sit back down and write a brief report, noting the time of the call, the condition of the tower and the absence of anything resembling a flame.

For those interested in a transcript of these calls, Kenneth Goldsmith is under consideration as an author of the book version, to be published sometime after September 17th. Proceeds will go towards off-setting the smoke's mounting costs.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

From Ruin to Wreck

The title of this post is Smithsonian, a la Smithson, who talked about "ruins in reverse," though of course he meant monuments (under construction). A wreck is immediate, a ruin takes time. Participating Documenta 14 artist/architect Andreas Angelidakis talks about Athens as "a ruin and an unfinished city."

One of the highlights of the 1997 Venice Biennale was Rodney Graham's Vexation Island (1997), a short 35mm film loop of an 18th century shipwrecked sailor forever awaking on a desert island, only to be knocked out by a fallen coconut. Key to this work is Graham's decision to leave the Canadian Pavilion's seasonal hoarding in tact, giving the structure a shipwrecked quality.

Twenty years on, Venice will debut two new works based on wrecks -- a Damien Hirst installation comprised of the contents of a wealthy ex-slave's sunken ship and Geoffrey Farmer's installation inspired by his paternal grandfather's train-struck truck.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Futurism is Nowism

Walking into a used bookstore small enough to sense the passing of a professor and the recent delivery of his or her boxes by his or her spouse, children, estate handlers.

Kelowna's High Browse is one such store. I was there a couple weeks back and picked up the kinds of books only dead professors leave behind -- in this instance, Anne Hyde Greet's translation of Guillaume Apollinaire's Alcools (Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of C Press, 1964) and Let's Murder the Moonshine: Selected Writings of F. T. Marinetti (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1991), with its excellent "Introduction" by editor R. W. Flint.

(Click here for Marinetti's account of the founding and manifesto of Futurism.)

It was while reading Flint's intro that I came upon a passage from the end of Benjamin's "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". We all know what this essay is about, and we refer to it often (the first episode of Berger and Dibb's BBC TV2 Ways of Seeing is indebted to Benjamin), but do we remember Benjamin's assessment of Fascism and its parade car, Futurism?

Benjamin writes:

Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into public life.

A relevant quote when considering how the Canadian government has given First Nations symbolic power (increased arts support) but not political economic power (sovereignty). Same too for arts organizations who capitalize on exorbitant rents by offering slight market rate discounts to artists leasing studios in the properties these organizations manage.

* Ironman poster by

Sunday, April 9, 2017


A few years back, while visiting Germany, I purchased a six-pack of Faber-Castell pencil crayons which I keep in my handbag. Every now and then I find the package while looking for something else and, if it pleases me, I make a drawing or two. The drawing above was not made with these pencil crayons but with colours from a package of 24 Crayola wax crayons I purchased at the Pharmasave while looking for a pencil sharpener.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"Thirty-Foot Trailer" (Ewan MacColl)

You've got to move fast to keep up with the times
For these days a man cannot person can't dander
There's a bylaw to say you must be on your way
And another to say you can't wander 

Friday, April 7, 2017

U.S. Navy Launches Missiles at Syrian Airbases

I keep trying to count how many missiles were launched from this U.S. Navy ship, but my wanders, and I try again.


CNN says there were 50.

CNN reporters keep telling us how moved President Trump was by images of Syria's chemical attack on its citizens.

Were these U.S. launches retaliation for Syria's chemical attack, or a scheme to convince us that a) Trump is empathetic and b) is not in the pocket of what these same reporters are referring to as a pissed off Russia?

Trump says his administration spoke with Russia in advance of these launches, via their "deconfliction" channel, but Russia has its own alternative facts.

How many days ago was it that Steve Bannon was booted out of the National Security Council?


Thursday, April 6, 2017

A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Bones on low for 24 hours now. Time to get out the strainer, line up those Tupperware containers.

This afternoon I will start a borscht. For dinner a risotto to go with the tête de veau.

The rest I will freeze.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Charcoal Starter

With the weather changing, and barbecues on the horizon, I took stock of our materials -- only to find the charcoal starter in need of an exorcism!

Monday, April 3, 2017

C.J. McIntosh Residence

While searching for a picture to accompany yesterday's Ocean Falls post I came upon the work of Don Coltman, an employee of the Vancouver-based Steffens-Colmer Studio, Ltd. A long history there, one I look forward to digging into.

In the meantime, here are three more pictures by Coltman, all of them from 1946. I looked up the address but the house there looked like it preceded the McIntosh's bungalow. It is likely the City of Vancouver Archives have the wrong house at the wrong address.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ocean Falls, B.C.

Ocean Falls was a pulp & paper company town located on the central coast of British Columbia. In 1950 the population was 3,500; today it totals 50.

There are no roads into Ocean Falls -- it is only accessible by boat or seaplane. Average annual rainfall is 172.8 inches, making it the wettest place in the province.

Prior to the arrival of the Bella Coola Pulp and Paper Company in 1903, the site was mostly inhabited by members of the Heiltsuk Nation, who have lived in the area for at least 9,000 years.

During their 1949 coastal boat trip, George and Ingeborg Woodcock dined at the captain's table.

Here is one of the captain's stories, as told by George:

One at least of the captain's tales remains in my memory with a dogged and rather illogical persistence. It deals with a letter which he was entrusted by a friend to deliver to a young lady in one of the coastal towns. It was a squalid night, and as the captain approached the lady's house, a sudden gust tore the envelope from his hand and sent it sailing into the darkness. He searched up and down the street with a flashlight, he peeped stealthily into front gardens, but no trace of the letter was to be found. So he had to call and explain the curious accident that had befallen him. The lady received his explanations coldly, and a moment afterwards retired to her room; the crestfallen captain was contemplating a return to his friend with a report of a failed mission when she hurriedly returned, carrying in her hand the very same letter which the wind had stolen a few moments before. She had found it lying on her bed, where a freak of the wind had carried it through the open window -- a window which, he would have us believe, was open only three inches.

photo: Don Coltman, 1941, City of Vancouver Archives

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Three-Point Turns

A long winter. The equinox was a week ago, but only yesterday could I leave the house at Woodhaven and not feel winter's chill.

The picture up top was taken in January -- a view from my bathroom of the snow-covered driveway that leads to the carport. For departing vehicles, a three-point turn is required.

Still on Woodhaven -- today marks the annual spring re-opening of the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy. The official opening time is 6 a.m., but as of 9:30 a.m. the gate remained locked.

Normally Lori would be unlocking and opening this gate, as she was for years the WNC on-site caretaker. But as a number of Central Okanagan parks have had their caretakers laid off by the Regional District and replaced with a private company that drives around with a big ring of keys, well, just sayin'.