Artists in Residence

The Western Front warmly welcomes back Bik Van der Pol, an artist duo who have been working collectively since 1995. They live and work in Rotterdam. Bik Van der Pol explore the potential of art to produce and transmit knowledge. Their cooperative research and creative methodologies create platforms and situations for various kinds of communicative activities. This residency intersects with multiple approaches and perspectives such as an exhibition and a symposium in order to pose key questions about mediatization of “the City”.

Learning from Vancouver

The city Vancouver has a prominent place in global film production. After Los Angeles and New York, it is the third-busiest shooting location in North America. Vancouver does not often play itself, but frequently stands in for better-known metropolises like New York, Washington, Miami, Hong Kong. Locations in the city such as Stanley Park, China Town, General Motors Place have acted as prime locations in several movies. Due to the contemporary Brutalist architecture of the some of the buildings of the Simon Fraser University, its campus has been used for location shots in science fiction television series such as The X-Files, Stargate SG-1, Battlestar Galactica and Andromeda and films like The Groundstar Conspiracy (1972) and The Fly II (1989).

As the image of Vancouver has become familiar globally through film, the city has also had and continues to have an impact on urban planners all over the world. The Vancouver Model, also known as ‘vancouverism’ was developed by Larry Beasley, an authority on urban development and urban issues, currently professor at University of British Columbia. As senior planner of the city of Vancouver, he has played a leading role in transforming its downtown core into a vibrant, liveable urban community. In doing so, he developed a participative and socially responsible approach to zoning, planning and design. This model has become an prototype of new, high density urban planning, a view on how people live in the 21st century, and its architects are exporting their expertise to other global cities such as Seattle, San Diego, Abu Dhabi, Tehran, Bombay and Dubai.

As the city has been used as a backdrop for film and a model for urban planning, many cities have become Vancouver, as Vancouver has become many cities. What does this mean for the everyday surroundings and communal spaces shared by different communities: the space that we call public? How should we address this public realm that is the physical expression of our collective consciousness, a space that maybe even creates a specific type of imagination? What does it mean to experience a space? How does this impact on the (un)potential of ‘building a community’, when the building of communities is increasingly becoming a global experience? Our research will focus on the model that Vancouver has become, as a fictional model of itself, as a micro-cosmos and as a compilation of city experiences. By exploring the model of Vancouver as a backdrop of itself, we aim to unpack these issues.

During our practice we have been focusing on ‘the public’, community, production of knowledge in order to create an understanding (starting with ourselves) of the complex network of local and global relationships and the influences of the distribution of information upon our lives. As with other projects such as Absolut Stockholm (Moderna Museet, Stockholm, 2000), Istanbul, 59 Locations: A Format For Nightcomers (10th Istanbul Biennial, 2007), Ford Boxes (Cork Caucus, Cork, 2005), Smell of Success (Zuidas, Amsterdam, 2008), Public Arena (In Context, Dublin, 2009) and Art is Either Revolution or Plagiarism (a project developed for the proposed site for the Museum of Revolution in New Belgrade, 2007) this one has developed through an intense form of research.