Vancouver Art Gallery marks Vancouver’s 125th year with innovative exhibition

The Vancouver Art Gallery celebrates the innovation and diversity found in the city of Vancouver with WE: Vancouver – 12 Manifestos for the City, opening on February 12, 2011. Bringing together more than 45 projects from various disciplines — architecture and design, art and visual culture, literature and activism — the exhibition will examine the extraordinary range of ideas and actions that shape Vancouver.

As the city of Vancouver marks its 125th birthday in 2011, WE: Vancouver offers an opportunity to scrutinize the life of the city itself, to observe its continual transformation and to acknowledge some of the people and projects leading the change. All of the projects presented are produced in Vancouver and reflect uniquely on the city.

Organized around a framework of 12 manifestos – DEMONSTRATE, SEE, LISTEN, MOVE, DETOUR, REMEMBER, OCCUPY, ACTIVATE, USE, CONSUME, CHOOSE, and SPEAK — the exhibition ranges from photography and essays, to hip hop music and architectural drawings. Along the way, Gallery visitors will find out more about improvisational performance events, street art, community projects, an urban songbird habitat, and 1,200 “Vancouver Specials,” among many other projects. An underlying theme that unites the range of practices represented is the desire to affect change, however large or small.

“This is one of the most innovative exhibitions the Gallery has mounted,” said Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartels, “WE: Vancouver follows in the spirit of the Gallery’s Massive Change: The Future of Global Design (2004) and Krazy! The Delirious World of Anime + Comics + Video Games + Art (2008) exhibitions. One of our most important roles is to represent the richness of cultural production in this city, and we are very excited to showcase the dynamism that is Vancouver.”

The exhibition title refers to the multiple perspectives that make up the pronoun “we” – reflecting the viewpoints that give this place its unique shape and meaning. Rather than suggesting a single unified position, WE: Vancouver recognizes that difference is a fundamental part of a city. The exhibition also features a number of events in collaboration with exhibition participants, including a Pecha Kucha night on February 24 at the Vogue Theatre and Thing to Thing: A Makeshift Project with artist Natalie Purschwitz on March 26 and 27. On April 9, the Gallery will host SUSTAIN: Vancouver, a day-long conference which looks at how models of culture, ecology and economics may shape the future.

WE: Vancouver – 12 Manifestos for the City is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Bruce Grenville, senior curator and Kathleen Ritter, associate curator. The show closes on May 1, 2011.

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