Need something to do this weekend? Here are four art installations to take in—and one to look out for later this month—as part of the Capture Photography Festival, which runs from this Saturday (April 1) to April 28 at various venues around Metro Vancouver.
At Pendulum Gallery (885 West Georgia Street) until April 14
Where many exhibits at Capture seek to highlight the more artistic applications of the medium, this showcase of Canada’s best photojournalism brings viewers back to one of photography’s principal purposes: the documentation of what’s happening around us.
In championing Canadian photojournalists who have made images that speak as loud as the headlines they accompany, the News Photographers Association of Canada will highlight those nominated for the organization’s annual National Pictures of the Year awards, which won’t take place until May.
With categories like spot news, sports action, social issues, portrait/personality, and photojournalist of the year, the exhibit not only highlights the power and necessity of photojournalism, the awards also speak to the value of an image and the context it can provide.
Viewers can expect to see a wide array of both still and multimedia work at what has come to be the country’s largest competition of photojournalism.
At District Library Gallery (second floor of the Lynn Valley Library [1277 Lynn Valley Road, North Vancouver]) until May 13
As a resident of Vancouver, you’ve almost certainly experienced your fair share of housing problems. Don’t have a spare $60,000 for a down payment? You’re likely paying $1,500 for a basement suite with mould on the walls and regular sewage overflows.
Sure, you’ve written to your MLA, you’ve watched Gregor Robertson harp on about increasing housing density, and you’re just about willing to overlook the fact that Christy Clark is continuing to inflate the entire market with her Home Owner Mortgage and Equity scheme. But what if Vancouver’s architecture could be reimagined in entirely different ways?
Caroline de la Cajiga’s City in Flux is a series of photographs designed to take a fresh look at the complexities of urban design and city planning. While architects are bound by the meagre rules of physics and funding, de la Cajiga’s prints think outside of the box, playing with the familiar landscape by “constructing” new buildings and copying landmarks elsewhere on the skyline.
With one image stacking several downtown skyscrapers on top of each other, and another depicting a gravity-defying tower planted next to the waterfront, the shots have both a tongue-in-cheek humour and cutting political message—one that, with the provincial election coming up, would be smart for candidates to heed.
At Waterfront Station from April 1 to September 1
Remember that episode of The Simpsons where Bart and Milhouse are standing on an overpass squirting ketchup and mustard on unsuspecting vehicles, inadvertently sharing with us the offbeat stories of other Springfielders in the process? (Apu manages to break all the rules of Hinduism in an hour; Lisa gets gum stuck in her hair; and Smithers suffers an allergic reaction from a bee sting.) Well, Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena’s Carpoolers is kind of like this, minus the whole pranking-innocent-passersby thing.
Instead, Cartagena traded in the condiments for a camera as he stationed himself atop a bridge that runs across one of the United States’ most profitable drug passages—a highway between Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and Texas—in 2011. Pointing his camera toward the trucks that sped past him below, he was able to capture labourers smiling, socializing, and slumbering on cargo beds as they made their way to the Monterrey suburbs.
In doing so, he offers audiences a brief glimpse into the lives of these men from a vantage point that muddles the line between private and public. One man sleeps wrapped tightly in a Mickey Mouse blanket surrounded by a mess of cardboard and tools, for example, while, in another image, 10 workers lounge and read as they await their next destination. The images are vibrant, captivating, and as fleeting as they are candid—an apt piece of work to be displayed at one of Vancouver’s busiest transportation hubs.
At the Gordon Smith Gallery of Canadian Art (2121 Lonsdale Avenue, North Vancouver) until April 12
Thoughts about schools usually evoke memories of lively student interactions, talkative teachers, and bustling movements when it’s time to switch classrooms. But that familiar colourful environment disappears in Luke Potter’s photographic art project Silence in Schools.
His images showcase classrooms after classes have been let out—empty, quiet, and motionless. These photos highlight what school spaces become once they’re void of teachers, staff, and students. Viewers will see typical classroom objects such as desks, chairs, and litter on the floor. Potter was inspired by visuals of the natural world such as fog, mist, and snow; his pictures allude to these elements by incorporating effects like desaturated colour and selective focus.
If you’ve never been the last one to leave school, then you’ll be able to experience what an empty learning place feels like by looking at these images. You can decide for yourself if these works of art are beautiful or haunting or a combination of both.
At Monte Clark Gallery (525 Great Northern Way) from April 22 to May 27
Anyone who’s lived in Vancouver longer than a year or two knows and feels how quickly its physical features are changing. The memory races to keep up, straining at the rate and scale of the erasure. This fact lends a mesmerizing power to photographs of Vancouver as it stood even a few short decades ago.
The glowing colour prints in Greg Girard’s show Under Vancouver 1972–1982 depict clusters of urban detail that are near unrecognizable to us now. The cafes, alleys, and desolate parking lots here tell of a far less tidy and moneyed place, isolated according to today’s standards and yet tightly hooked to the arrivals and departures on its busy waterfront.
Girard has photographed similar transformations in the past, as in his renowned images of Hong Kong. But in these works he’s caught his own, fleeting native city, and the result is something far more uncanny than mere nostalgia.