The Or Gallery has announced it will be moving from its storied location at 555 Hamilton Street to 236 East Pender Street, in the heart of thriving Chinatown.
It plans to establish an exhibition space, book store, and community hub at the groundfloor site formerly run by the Unit Pitt Gallery.
The artist-run centre has spent 10 years in the current Hamilton location, which nurtured previous spaces like the Belkin Satellite and the Contemporary Art Gallery before the Or took up residence in 2009.
In a statement today, the centre cited ever-rising Vancouver real-estate prices as the reason for the relocation:
Our move comes as economic realities have shifted around us. Or Gallery makes this strategic decision to move to a new location at a moment when local real estate costs have elevated well beyond any typical cycle of gentrification. Today’s market speculation has reconfigured the reality of being part of the Vancouver community, a fact that impacts all organizations and individuals, living and working here. Wewill continue to balance the need for a tightly budgeted operation, fair compensation for our staff and artists and free programming for our public. This move is another step in our continued commitment to fulfill our mandate as a critical yet accessible forum for contemporary art and ideas in the years to come.
The new site on Pender is part of a shared complex of artist studios managed by artist-run centre 221A, and it neighbours several other arts organizations. Amid that new milieu, the Or sees "potential for concurrently planned openings, and a general cross-pollination of curatorial exploration and strategies for survival and solidarity as Vancouver art institutions".
The first planned exhibit for the new space--Hold On, by Berlin-based artist Anna Zett--opens October 16. It features an interactive video installation that explores the omnipresence of the touch screen and features a series of bubble-like glass objects that viewers can grasp to trigger audio-visual elements. It's Zett’s first exhibition in Canada.
The new show carries on a long tradition of showcasing cutting-edge contemporary work in the city. Established in 1983 by Vancouver artist Laiwan in a storefront space on Franklin Street, the gallery has taken up different locations around the city, acting as a hub for experimentation. It's exhibited several hundred artists over the decades, including Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, and Antonia Hirsch. In 2010, the Or even opened a Berlin satellite gallery on Oraniaenstrasse 37.
The Or Bookstore is known for its range of artists' books, monographs, design publications, local publishing, criticism-and-theory and journals, and magazines.