Expo ’86 Posters!

The other works I noticed this poster near Hastings and Willingdon. It’s since been ripped down and replaced with fireworks adverts so I thought I’d blog about it.

It’s a message from Bill Bennett extolling the virtues of Expo 86. Bennett was the Social Credit premier of British Columbia from 1975 until 1986. I’m too young to really have any kind of visceral grudge against him, but I know of a lot of my older friends do.

But as much as I disagree with the Social Credits it was really refressing to see the words “Premier” next to a name and photo of someone who isn’t Gordon Campbell.

But why then are these 23 year old posters plastered across the city? It was a real “what the fuck” moment to see this alongside movie and concert notices. My first thought it was that it was some kind of Olympic initiative to quell anti-Olympic sentiment among the masses by appealing to that bullshit hipster nostalgia for all things ’80s.

I might be right.

There was some barely visible text on the bottom left corner of the poster with a url to the Presentation House Gallery in North Vancouver. Their website says it’s the largest non-profit photographic art gallery in Western Canada.

The piece is part of the public installation “Something’s Happening Here” by Berlin-based artist Jeremy Shaw. He’s taken a bunch of old posters and images from Expo 86 and they have been plastered all over Vancouver as part of the so-called “Cultural Olympiad”.

A press release for the exhibit describes it as such:

“Something’s Happening Here joins an ongoing dialogue on how global events like Expo
and the Olympics impact on civic space through an architectural legacy of buildings
and monuments, and signifi cantly, how such events live on through a collective civic
memory.”

As a B.C. history buff I think the old posters are sort of cool. Vancouver seems to be a city that moves and changes so quickly that it seems to lose connection with its history. So I think most iniatives to preserve our history are good.

But the haunting question here is: what history do we choose to present? Or more accurately, what message are THEY trying to cram down our throats?

While arts and community organizations across the province are being slaughtered with funding cuts it seems that there is still enough money to plaster the city with Expo pride. It’s as if they are saying “people were all excited and proud to host Expo so you should feel the same way about the Olympics!”

Art is invarialbly used as a tool by the people to question or critique the status quo but it is also used by the establishment to drive home their message.

I am a resident of Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada who has blogged here for 20 years. I like to share my thoughts and feelings on my own online space. From 1998 until 2017 I worked as a journalist and I hope to use this website as an archive for all of my stories.

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