Bathroom Makeover or Post-Socialist Pre-Displacement Pseudo-Historical Shrine
Commissioned by: Brian McBay
Location: 222 East Georgia Street, Vancouver Canada
Status: Completed December 2013
Photography: Dennis Ha
In drawing a parallel between renovation and translation, Walter Benjamin noted: “It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” – Illuminations: Essays and reflections, 1923
This project is the result of a residency at 221A artist run centre in Vancouver and is a permanent installation at the artist studios 221A runs at 222 East Georgia Street. The residency was accompanied by an exhibition and public programme.
A 115 square-foot (10.6 square metre) bathroom redevelopment in Chinatown, which is one of the last frontiers for inner-city development in Vancouver. In the past the location has served as a restroom for a parking lot, factory, retail store, residential accommodation and since 2010, as the location of 221A’s 23 artist-studio spaces.
The project’s purpose is to examine the role of renovation as a form of cultural remembrance, healing and transformation. In the context of Vancouver’s rapid redevelopment as a vertical, high-density urban environment where existing older buildings and multi-cultural histories are often eradicated under the banner of urban regeneration, the renovation consciously deliberates taking the position of a pseudo-historical shrine, interpreting existing space and collective memory.
Bathroom Makeover or Post Socialist Pre-Displacement Pseudo-Historical Shrine is part of the exhibition and public programme, Blood Mountain at 221A (03 December 2013 – 18 January 2014).
I am grateful for the assistance of the Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver. With special thanks to Miriam Sleeman and Barnaby Lyons.