Notes on Political Ecologies (N.O.P.E. 2016) was an institutional experiment that assembled a collective of artists, writers, and researchers, and invited them to appropriate 221A’s exhibition space as a site of communal study between May and August 2016. The collective convened twice a week to plan and carry out an investigation into the institution’s intimate surroundings: Vancouver’s Chinatown and Downtown Eastside. These overlapping neighbourhoods have historically been a vital nexus of struggles for immigrant and working class power, Indigenous sovereignty, and the right to housing. At present, this contested terrain is besieged by a campaign of resurgent capital investment—‘economic revitalization’, or eviction, displacement, and gentrification, in brief force.
The books, documents, and ephemera were gathered in the course of the collective’s study to produce a ‘cognitive map’ of Vancouver’s current political conjuncture. Bringing together materials including international case studies of urban planning, social housing design manuals, and printed matter produced in local campaigns for ‘the right to the city’, the collection is intended not only as an interpretive device for understanding Vancouver’s permanent real estate crisis, but moreover provide the tools to transform the present.
- Vincent Tao is the Librarian at Pollyanna Library, where he is responsible for the collection and associated programs. Tao’s recent projects at 221A include Notes on Political Ecologies, N.O.P.E. 2016; Rereading Room: the Vancouver Women’s Bookstore, 2016; Parallax Study: The New Romantics, 2017; and Deep Blue Open Archive, 2017. Recently, Tao took part in documenta 14’s aneducation program at Under the Mango Tree—Sites of Learning, travelling to Kassel to present and workshop the 221A’s forthcoming educational programming. His independent research and organizing work concerns urban displacement and the right to the city. Prior to moving to Vancouver, Tao studied at McGill University in Montreal, where he was the outreach coordinator for a worker-run community kitchen.
- Alex Braidek is interested in the composition and situation of short fiction. He has been researching the current effects of neoliberalism. Particularly, as it has pertained to the Vancouver Housing market, the role of the state in social welfare, and its failures in local politics. He is interested currently in the role of artists in this process of neoliberalization and the notion of artistic resistance.
- Alexandra Bischoff is a Canadian performance artist and writer who currently lives and works in Vancouver, BC. She holds a BFA in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and was named the valedictorian of her 2015 undergraduate class. Bischoff’s practice responds to obscure intimacies (architectural idiosyncrasies, organic anomalies, relationships with strangers and the like), often focusing through the amorphous lens of female sexuality.
- Marisa Kriangwiwat Holmes is a Hong Kong born, Richmond BC based artist.
- Sierra Komar is an independent researcher who recently obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at McGill University.
- Steffanie Ling is a writer, critic and editor of BARTLEBY REVIEW, a free and occasional pamphlet of art writing in Vancouver, and a curator at CSA Space. She occasionally converges popular media and art to perform cultural criticism and has published one book of minimal poems, Cuts of Thin Meat (Spare Room, 2015) and a collection of short prose, Nascar (Blank Cheque Press, 2016).