About this book
Stan Douglas: Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971, an art book on the politics of urban conflict, is based on the work of Stan Douglas, one of Canada's most revered contemporary artists. His film and video installations, photographs, and other works use the conventions of cinema, music, and literature to construct historical and cultural narratives, many of which are grounded in the story of Vancouver, his hometown.
The book's eponymous image is a 30 x 50-foot translucent photo mural on tempered glass installed in the atrium of the new Woodward's complex in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, in the heart of Canada's poorest neighbourhood. The image depicts the aftermath of an actual violent confrontation between police and the city's counterculture in what came to be known as the Gastown Riot, during which uniformed and undercover police officers attacked a peaceful "smoke-in" protest organized to oppose police narcotics agents' attempts to infiltrate the city's marijuana-smoking community. This book takes the riot, and Douglas's work, as points of departure to discuss the legacy and implications of this tumultuous time, not only for Vancouver but for all urban centres where dissent and conflict based on class, lifestyle, or other issues arise, and where the role of authorities is contested in the form of public demonstration.
The book will also contain five essays, whose esteemed writers bring together expertise on cinema, urban geography, modern art, conceptual art, mass media, and the history of the 1960s and '70s to bear on Douglas's work, as well as other images from Douglas's "Crowds & Riots" series and archival photographs from 1971.
Includes essays by:
Alexander Alberro, Barnard College, Columbia University (author of Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity and co-editor of Institutional Critique: An Anthology of Artists' Writings)
Nora Alter, Temple University, Philadelphia (author of Chris Marker)
Serge Guilbaut, University of British Columbia (author of How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art)
Sven Lutticken (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)
Jesse Proudfoot, Simon Fraser University PhD candidate; post-doctoral researcher at DePaul University, Chicago (Fall 2011)
Arsenal Pulp Press has published a beautiful and informative book about one of Vancouver's most stunning and original works of public art.
This collection of essays pries open the iconic 30x50-foot translucent photo mural, depicting a decades-ago clash between police and protestors that defined Vancouver's Gastown neighbourhood, and which now hangs in the atrium of the city's Woodward's complex. From Nora M. Alter's analysis of the image as a "moving still" to Jesse Proudfoot's history of the politics of representation in the Downtown Eastside, these essays help fulfil Douglas's intent to keep conversation about the riot -- and the photograph that "condenses" it -- evolving.
Cinematic in its scale and production, the photomural depicts riot police, mounted police, and undercover cops clashing with hippies, while area residents and visitors look on. Douglas frequently uses his art to reimagine pivotal but often misread or obscured moments in history ... This book addresses not only the elaborate creation and multiple meanings of the mural but also what the publisher calls "the politics of urban conflict" embedded within it.
This richly illustrated volume focuses on events of 1971's Gastown Riot ... Simmering narratives of protest and inequality run alongside a study of the mechanics and meaning of representation.
An unabashed cynicism about modern-day civic engagement is at the core of what makes Abbott and Cordova, 7 August 1971
so devilishly hypnotic and disquietingly uncomfortable.
As a comprehensive guide to understanding the recently installed artwork by Stan Douglas, Arsenal Pulp Press has given us here a visual tour de force, with stunning colour representations of the original piece throughout the hard covered volume supporting the essays and interview with the artist. And as so much more than a commemorative plaque, the artist's depiction of the unsettling event is sure to be a catalyst for social change (the Occupy movement in fact used the space in 2011), not just for the DTES, but for all of Vancouver and its environs.