For the October edition of Platforms 2020: Public Works, The City of Vancouver Public Art Program presents works by the artists Laurie M Landry, Wen Wen Lu, Rina Lyshaug, Lindsay McIntyre, Jayce Salloum and Chrystal Sparrow. The artworks presented were selected through an open call inviting Vancouver-based artists to share projects that they have been working on that respond to our current circumstances of living during a pandemic and critical time of change.
Growing up, Laurie M Landry was taught to assimilate and pass as a hearing person by relying on visual cues such as reading lips and facial expressions. With health measures such as personal protective equipment and social distancing in place the artist can no longer accommodate the hearing world and must find new ways to communicate with others that go beyond the spoken word. Landry’s artwork Pandemic Lip Reading (2020), on a billboard on Helmcken near Granville, shows the artist’s difficulties navigating the pandemic as a Deaf person, and the hope that we can collectively adapt to new ways of communicating that go beyond hearing.
Isolated (2020) by Wen Wen Lu are collections of ink, salt and graphite drawings that the artist began on March 15, 2020 when isolation measures were first introduced. The drawings, presented on twenty transit shelter posters throughout the city, became a way of exploring day-to-day changes and documenting thoughts, observations, feelings or imaginings during the COVID-19 pandemic. What started as a small gesture and coping mechanism became an expanding visual record, proving heavier as each day passed and more united as the weeks accumulated.
Presented on the VanLive! screen at Robson and Granville Street is Rina Lyshaug’s video Narratives from the Emptiest Place (2019). In this piece Lyshaug reflects on home as a site for the intervention of the imaginary by presenting an image of a room that challenges the physical boundaries of space. The video’s intentional slowness and subtle monotony invites viewers to project their own imaginations onto the screen.
Dobby and the Rest of Us, Distancing (2020) is a collaborative drawing made by Lindsay McIntyre with her seven-year old daughter Alice presented on a billboard at Broadway and Prince Edward Street. This text-based drawing created during the pandemic presents the artist’s stream of consciousness writing in reaction to the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, and the news of the killing of George Floyd and ongoing colonial erasure. The figures drawn by her daughter reflect on her own preoccupations with the pandemic, presenting carefully spaced out figures according to her understanding of 2 metres. Dobby from the Harry Potter books makes an appearance and provides the title’s anchor.
Jayce Salloum’s statement ever close (beyond now) (2020) is presented on 18 digital screens throughout the city with messages that the artist sporadically wrote through this time of quarantine. He started by collecting fragments of texts and correspondences with others and began writing a kind of daily “sutured manifesto disguised as poetic ramblings and rants out into the void.” Trying to present something resonant and useful, his messages tackle our present point of fear, regression, pain, promise and hope, and the unforeseeable future.
Coast Salish Artist (2019), a self-portrait by the Musqueam and Coast Salish artist and carver Chrystal Sparrow, is being presented on twenty transit-shelter posters throughout the city. This is a photograph of the artist adorned in Native American regalia, a reflection on famous 19th century Native American Indian portraits that presented subjects in beadwork, traditional adornments, and fabrics from that time. Sparrow explains: “I have found that adding these Native American regalia images to my self-portraits has delivered a significant connection to the idea of historical ceremonies practiced by wearing regalia. I also felt a sense of nobility, respect and inspiration when a chief’s regalia covered a part of my body. I also used images of salmon leather, Coast Salish formlines, berries; patterns and textures. My interest to use self-portraits has become a study of traditional art and regalia to be manifested in my work; with the intent to discover more about my Coast Salish, Cree and Shuswap art practices.”
For more information about this program visit: vancouver.ca/platforms
Image Credit: Chrystal Sparrow, “Coast Salish Artist,” 2019, digital image; Jayce Salloum, “ever close (beyond now),” 2020, digital image; Wen Wen Lu, “Isolated,” 2020, illustration