Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Expo 86 Meets Olympics 2010: Q&A on Jeremy Shaw's Vancouver Poster Projects

When I was in grade 7 in ye olde Calgary, Alberta, our class took a one-day field trip to Expo 86 in Vancouver. In retrospect, it sounds like a migraine waiting to happen: 70 12- and 13-year-olds up ultraearly for a flight, then running around in the rain and soggy plastic ponchos for 10 hours, then back on the plane for a flight home. (I really do not know how they talk parents into this stuff, I have to say.)

My main memories of Expo are of the Alberta pavilion, which featured toy dump trucks and styrofoam versions of tar sands pellets (I think) for the edumacation of the youngsters. I did not really notice much else at all, or at least not much that sticks in my memory.

So what was that big world-class event all about anyway? What does it teach us about others of its kind? These are the types of memories and questions artist Jeremy Shaw was trying to raise when he developed a yearlong Expo-86-themed public-art poster project for Vancouver's downtown. My Q&A with him, as well as some install shots, are in today's National Post. Here's an excerpt:

Q It's 2010 ... why do a poster project on Expo 86?

A It connects to the Olympics, and wanting to recognize that there was another major global event in Vancouver 24 years ago. That's actually a pretty short time [in the] past, but sometimes it seems there's very little that remains of it. The point is also to make you do a double take, to revive those memories and bring them into the discussion. Like, what will Vancouver be like 24 years on from the Olympics? I wanted to prompt conversations on those kinds of history-and-future issues.

Q How did it begin?

A Initially, I was photographing a sort of legendary piece of architecture from Expo -- the McBarge, a floating McDonald's restaurant. There was a debate about what was to become of it after the fair; now it's just moored in Burrard Inlet. The original poster idea was just a photo of that, but it turned into a broader idea to remind the public of this other major-event moment.

BTW, I went to find images of that McBarge online, and it is not a pretty sight:

Yes, the Expo 86 logos and robot mascots are actually a much prettier choice, I'd say. But you can check it out for yourself: a good assortment of additional Shaw-poster installation shots are available on the website of Presentation House Gallery, which coproduced the project. And the project will run through the Olympics to March 1, with some of the posters hanging on hoardings near the Olympic Village.

1 comment:

Urso Chappell said...

Thanks for posting about this. I wish I could be there to see Vancouver experience the Olympics just as I was there in 1986 for Expo.

I just wrote an article about Expo 86 for China Daily that should be published next week. This week released a podcast talking about Expo 86 and some of its connections to the 2010 Olympics on:

Even outside of Vancouver, Expo 86 seems to be on folks' brains thanks to the Olympics.