The streets of lower Hastings were already showing signs of decline in the early 80's when SFU's Centre for the Arts had its visual art studios at 112 West Hastings, across from Woodward's department store. The building owner, Morris Perel, had a clothing store on the ground floor; SFU originally rented the top two floors and eventually all four floors after Perel retired. In 1982 an exhibition space was prepared on the top floor and the installation Projection was fitted to this gallery.

This work developed out of the physical situation of the location itself: a no-longer flourishing part of Vancouver with cheap rents and plenty of street people; some pan-handling and the occasional confrontation was part of the gauntlet of getting to the studio. Inside the building, the passive security of the typical white-walled and grey-floored spaces contrasted with the adrenalinized exterior of the street. This contrast became the framework for Projection. The space was partially subdivided into 2/3 — 1/3 sections by a suspended drywall screen with its finished side facing the space and its rough exterior to the windows overlooking the street, corresponded psychologically to the quiet, open interior against the provisional, transitional exterior. In the larger space, two objects at chest height wavered on thin rods, one representing human lungs, the other, a human heart. A steel ring set into the centre of the floating drywall was the conic focal point for two images on the opposing wall, representing the projected shadows of the two objects in the room, drawn directly onto the wall with powdered graphite. Their indexical character could be confirmed by a look from the vantage point of the steel ring: the objects perfectly eclipsed the drawings.

However, this rational and technical reductio of the installation was conditioned by the viewer's own physiology; having just climbed four flights of stairs to the space, in a slightly winded and perspiring state, the impulse to immediately identify the represented hearts and lungs with their own was inevitable: a momentary confusion between the represented and the real. The viewer, drawn by the light from the window behind the floating wall, then came around the corner to a new shock: a suspended sawed-off shotgun, its muzzle buried in the centre of the floating wall, its hammer cocked. The irrational, random and blinded aggression of the street here finds its willful image, pressing its way into the hermetic, contemplative interior of the smooth gallery through a destabilized viewing body, suddenly thrown off balance. The unbearable and near-irreconcilable tensions between a normalized interior and an unruly exterior.

Collection: Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, ON

Embodied Fictions
Two Figures
Project for an Office Building
Production of Value
Corner Counter Relief w/AK47
A Representation...
Work Table with Work
1982, mixed media installation, 11' X 25' X 40'  Copyright © 2007 - Greg Snider.
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