February 6, 2010

Vancouver 2010: A Rant

Seeing graffiti in the streets of Vancouver is always a mini pause from reality. Whether it be simple and sometimes witty Sharpie tags on transit, the bigger ones below the Expo Line near the Millennium Line tracks at Commercial-Broadway, or colourful ones like the ones below and my blog's header image above, I'm honestly amazed by their beauty. I wonder who did them, at what time, if they got caught or had to run away from security or police, what caps were used, how long it took, etc. I wonder who put the effort into them, who put their "mark" by tagging this predetermined private property.

Taken by myself (December 18, 2009)

I took these photos along Beatty St. near Georgia St. while walking to work at the VPL. I usually get off at Granville Station, but I decided to get off at Stadium Station. Little did I know that that would be the last I would see of them. I didn't get to take a picture of the Charlie Brown mural, but that was equally impressive.

This is the same piece as my blog's header image, and the pink one you can see to the left
Five days later, all of the murals along this concrete wall were painted over by the City of Vancouver as part of "maintenance of that area." The general manager of community services for COV said that "it is standard business for the city to do the upkeep on its publicly visible property." No wonder that block and its adjacent parking lot have been closed off, since it is an Olympic venue "to be used for entertainment." Remind me then, what exactly upkeep means. Because the last time I checked, it is the process of keeping something in good condition. The COV's opinions stand and they are undeniably sovereign over me, but those murals were pieces of culture, pieces made by people for the public. Simply painting over them seems to contradict that exact "upkeep."
I'm no artist, but I consider culture to be hella important if we want to have any regard for the people who have shaped our history, if we want to encourage positive expression through arts, and if we want our children to be born into a myriad of cultures and to grow up embracing them. Personally my "culture" stems from being a first-generation immigrant born in Vancouver. For example, I'm offended by the preconception that a Filipino working in food or domestic services is automatically labeled an immigrant just as much as I'm offended by our City's lame attempt to "connect media with [the] homeless" as well as its plain disrespect of one account of artistic expression by painting over said murals. The Philippines was where my parents were born, Vancouver was where I was born, but where does my identity lie? Where does Vancouver's identity lie behind the Ilanaaq emblem, if at all? Are we allowing our identities to be stripped, changed, or replaced by greater bodies?

I digress... because to this point I can honestly say that I don't know whether or not I support the Olympics. I admit it's kinda cool that all these people are coming to our small city. I got swept by the marketing craze and cuteness of the mascots. (Yet ironically I didn't legally pay for the two that are on my bed.) But on the flip side I'm embarrassed to call Vancouver "home" when the amounts of money being spent have only worsened our housing crisis in the Downtown Eastside and when our First Nations are still fighting for their rightful land.

For some literature on one account of the Olympics, read Pico Iyer's essay "The Games" from his book The Global Soul. I chose it randomly for my English world lit discussion leadership that I have to co-facilitate this week. Even though it's so long, I'm glad I chose it just in time and it's the reason why I'm ranting here. From my understanding it addresses how humanity is being represented by the Olympics and its publicists and sponsors (in my opinion, falsely), globalism vs universalism, the Olympics as a model of the world, and how host cities such as Nagano and Atlanta projected and branded themselves to the world while simultaneously stripping their identity - all really interesting and insightful.

1 comment:

  1. hey girl, thanks for stopping by ! i love graffiti art. i want to take a trip to montreal to see theirs, hope the olympics are treating u well ! im so jealous, reallyyy wanna be in vancouver right now !

    ps. i would love for you to enter my giveaway :)


    xx lue