About this book
Facing History: Portraits from Vancouver examines the inhabitants of a city through the camera-art of its greatest artists. Featuring a wide range of material, from historical images to documentary depictions to contemporary visual artists' work, the book provides an intimate glimpse into Vancouver's sense of itself, and how representations of the face and the body can stand for cultural identity.
Touching—with both celebration and caution—on the complex, very mobile social realities of urban living, Facing History presents portraits from Vancouver in a manner which focuses on the themes of family and community, youth, art and life, work and play, the street, public life, and the life of the mind.
The artists featured in the book include some of the city's well-known photo and media-based artists, whose work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, as well as lesser-known artists at the early stages of their art practice, and individuals whose image-making was for private, media, or commercial purposes. They include Alvin Armstrong, Glenn Baglo, Marian Penner Bancroft, Kate Craig, Bill Cunningham, Roy Kiyooka, Una Knox, Jin-me Yoon, Al Neil, Foncie Pulice, Judy Radul, Chick Rice, Henri Robideau, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Paul Wong, Sharyn Yuen, and N.E. Thing Co. Ltd.
As a whole, the photographs attempt to define the "face" of Vancouver in its various guises. The historical material provides a fascinating glimpse at the last 30 years of the city, with stills from CBC's archives; portraits of family and domestic life; sidewalk snapshots of folks "on the town"; and grimy, tough images of workers. There are also more contemporary images of Vancouver's multicultural communities, as well as now iconic portraits of Terry Fox, Pierre and Margaret Trudeau, WAC Bennett, and others.
Many images are paired with a narrative inspired by the artwork, written by some of Canada's leading writers, artists, and thinkers, including Robin Blaser, Colin Browne, Wayde Compton, Tom Cone, Bruce Grenville, Brian Jungen, Laiwan, Roy Miki, Sarah Milroy, Marina Roy, Henry Tsang, Michael Turner, Betsy Warland, and Rita Wong. There is an introduction by editor Karen Love, who curated a major exhibition of these materials at Presentation House Gallery, as well as an essay by Bob Sherrin.
Melding Vancouver's past, present, and future through the eyes and words of its finest photographic artists and writers, Facing History is a rich, living document of Vancouver's inner life that features 48 pages in full-colour, and more than 120 images in total.
. . . I found the essays. . . akin to the experience of going gallery visiting with a much wiser companion.