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Residential school memorial at Vancouver Art Gallery removed

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Most of a memorial created by an artist to honour children who died in residential school has been removed from the steps of the Vancouver Art Gallery just days before the two-year anniversary of its installation.

But there is some disagreement about what happened to the items.

Haida artist Tamara Bell, who created the memorial using 215 pairs of children’s shoes, said she felt compelled to take some kind of action in the days after the Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc announced the discovery of 215 possible unmarked children’s graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Bell has had minimal involvement with the memorial since the first few days in May and June of 2021 when it became a place for people to gather and grieve.

Volunteers took over maintenance of the memorial, which has grown over time, and some have been living in tents next to the steps in Robson Square.

The City of Vancouver said it has been in talks with those volunteers about winding the vigil down and removing the items since November of last year.

“This is a really difficult and highly sensitive situation that we’re in. It’s a situation that the city has not been in before,” said Michelle Bryant-Gravelle, the city’s senior director of Indigenous relations. “The city is committed to working with Musqueam, Squamish and Tseil-Waututh to ensure there is a permanent site for the residential school children who did not make it home and to honour the survivors of residential schools.”

She said discussions have not yet started but the city is committed to following through.

Friday morning at 5:00 a.m. a crew showed up to Robson Square and installed eight-foot tall sections of blue fencing at either end of the plaza with signs explaining the area was closed to the public.

However, as of Thursday afternoon one section at each end of the plaza remains open and the public have still been allowed inside.

Private security guards hired by the city have been posted at each entrance.

According to the city, that was done to provide privacy because a ceremony led by local First Nations was to take place so the shoes, teddy bears and other assorted items could be gathered from the steps.

The plan called for them to be taken to a site in West Vancouver where they would be burned in another ceremony.

But by the time city staff arrived, most of the items had already been removed.

‘IT WENT MISSING’

Desiree Simeon, who has been organizing the volunteers who reside at the site, says she doesn’t know what happened to the items.

“It went missing,” Simeon said in an interview with CTV News. “We woke up and they weren’t there.”

According to the city, its staff saw the items in bags near the steps when they arrived and then watched as some of the volunteers from the vigil carried them away.

It says some of the items have since been discovered in locations throughout Vancouver and it is asking people not to disturb them and contact the city instead.

“So we may transfer them in a good way to a central location to prepare for blanketing and an upcoming private burning ceremony with Indigenous partners,” the city said in a statement.

Bell, the artist who originally started the memorial hopes her work will have a lasting legacy promoting understanding and reconciliation.

“My deepest desire is that the symbolism of the 215 residential children’s shoes remind all Canadians to embrace the recommendations found within the Truth and Reconciliation Report,” she said in a statement to CTV News.

The south steps of the art gallery still sit behind four-foot tall blue fencing erected to protect the memorial and the enclosed area still has several tents set up inside along with some of the items that have been added to the memorial over time.

Simeon said she and the other volunteers plan to slowly pack up their belongings and tents and vacate the site in the coming days.

“We gained a lot from just being here. We gained exposure to residential school and the murdering of Indigenous babies. And how it was done because it was swept under the rug,” she said. “I just thank all of the volunteers that were here to help me throughout the whole two years. There was a lot of ups and downs but I have no regrets.”

 

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ACCC discontinues investigation into 'white hands on black art' allegations – ABC News

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ACCC discontinues investigation into ‘white hands on black art’ allegations  ABC News

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Home + Away artwork opens in Vancouver’s Hastings Park

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A new art installation now towers over Vancouver’s Hastings Park fields in celebration of the city’s history of spectators and sports.

Home + Away is a sculpture by Seattle artists Annie Han and Daniel Mihalyo of Lead Pencil Studio, which opened Monday in the southeast end of the historic park.

It’s a 17-metre-tall structure that resembles a narrow set of bleachers — similar to the stands of the Empire Stadium, which stood on the site of the park from 1954 to 1993 and hosted The Beatles, among many others. It recalls a covered ski jump that stood there in the 1950s and the nearby wooden rollercoaster at the PNE.

The city says the public is invited to walk the stairs and sit on the benches.

“In addition to being visually striking, this artwork is intended to be ascended, sat on and experienced. It offers exciting experiences of height and views and provides 16 rows of seating for up to 49 people, making for a unique spectator experience when watching events at Empire Fields,” the city said in a release Monday.

The idea for the park to include public art was outlined in the Hastings Park “Master Plan,” first adopted by the city in 2010. The city says Han and Mihalyo first presented their design in 2015.

“It’s wonderful to see this piece realized within the context of such a well-used public space,” said Han.

Home + Away was inspired directly by the site history of spectatorship, and we hope it will connect Hastings Park users to that history and the majestic views of the environment for many decades to come,” added Mihalyo.

The artwork features a large light-up sign, in the style of a sports scoreboard, that reads “HOME” and “AWAY.”

 

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Bill Viola, Video Artist Who Established the Medium as an Integral Part of Contemporary Art, Dies at 73

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Bill Viola, whose decades-long engagement with video proved vital in establishing the medium as an integral part of contemporary art, died on July 12 at his home in Long Beach, California. He was at 73 years old. The cause was complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. The news of his passing was confirmed by James Cohan Gallery.

Viola’s works are centered around the idea of human consciousness and such fundamental experiences as birth, death, and spirituality. He delved into mystical traditions from Zen Buddhism to Islamic Sufism, as well as Western devotional art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in his videos, which often juxtaposed themes of life and death, light and dark, noise and silence. These explorations were achieved by submerging viewers in both image and sound with cutting-edge technologies for their time.

“I first used the camera and lens as a surrogate eye, to bring things closer, or to magnify them, to experiment with perception, to extend vision and make lengthy observations of simple objects,” Viola said in a 2015 interview. “Once you do that, their essence becomes visible. So I suppose I was always interested in the inner life of the world around me.”

Beginning in the 1970s, Viola created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast—all of which expanded the scope of the medium and established Viola as one of its most notable practitioner.

Video still of a man diving into water that has been reversed. The image is mostly black and teal.

In 2003 the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Tate, London; and the Centre Pompidou in Paris jointly acquired Bill Viola’s 2001 three-channel video installation Five Angels for the Millennium.

Photo Kira Perov/©Bill Viola Studio

Bill Viola was born in 1951. He grew up in Queens and Westbury, New York, and attended P.S. 20 in Flushing, before receiving his BFA in experimental studios from Syracuse University in 1973. There, he studied with visual art with the likes of Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris.

Following his graduation, between 1973 to 1980, Viola studied and performed with composer David Tudor in the music group Rainforest, which later became known as Composers Inside Electronics. He also worked as technical director at the pioneering video studio Art/tapes/22 in Florence, Italy from 1974 to 1976. During that time he encountered the work of other seminal video artists like Nam June Paik, Bruce Nauman, and Vito Acconci.

Viola was subsequently an artist-in-residence at New York’s WNET Thirteen Television Laboratory between 1976 to 1983, wherein he created a series of works that premiered on television. He traveled to the Solomon Islands, Java, and Indonesia to record traditional performing arts between 1976 and 1977. Later that year, Viola was invited to show work at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, by cultural arts director Kira Perov, with whom he married and began a lifelong collaboration.

He was appointed an instructor in advanced video at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1983. He was the Getty Research Institute scholar-in-residence in Los Angeles in 1998 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2000.

In 1985, Viola received with a Guggenheim Fellowship for fine arts, and later that decade, in 1989, he was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. His work was also featured in some of the world’s most notable exhibitions, including Documenta VI in 1977, Documenta XI in 1992, the 1987 and 1993 editions of the Whitney Biennial, and the 2001 Venice Biennale.

In 1995, he represented the United States at the 46th edition of the Venice Biennale. For the pavilion, Viola produced the series of works “Buried Secrets,” including one of his most known works The Greeting, which offers a contemporary interpretation of Pontormo’s oil painting The Visitation (ca.1528–30). The Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin and New York’s Guggenheim Museum commissioned the digital fresco cycle in high-definition video, titled Going Forth By Day, in 2002.

Viola’s work was the subject of a major 25-year survey at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1997, which subsequently toured internationally. His work has been the subject of major museum retrospectives in the years since, including at the Grand Palais in Paris (in 2014), the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence (2017), the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain (2017), and the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia (2019), as well as an exhibition pairing his work with that of Michelangelo at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2019.

Viola is survived by his wife Kira Perov, who has been the executive director of his studio since 1978, and their two children.

“One thing that’s very exciting about video that has turned me on since I first saw this glowing image way back in 1970 is that it can be so much,” Viola said in a 1995 with Charlie Rose on the occasion of this US Pavilion at the Biennale. “Furthermore, what’s really exciting is I don’t think it’s been since really the Renaissance where artists have been able to use a medium that one could say is the dominant communication form in society.”

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