“Abbott and Cordova, 7 August 1971” by Stan Douglas, Vancouver, British Columbia
I’d seen photos of this public art installation and it was on my short list of things to see when we visited Vancouver. This gigantic print (30 x 50 feet) hangs in the public atrium of the Woodward’s Complex in Vancouver. The image is printed on glass and the reverse side (a mirror image of this side) is visible from the outside courtyard. I knew little about the piece beforehand except that it depicted the 1971 Gastown Riots, when a pot smoke-in in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was violently broken up by police. It wasn’t long after I arrived and took my camera out that I learned more from a local resident. She stopped to tell me firmly that it wasn’t “real”. Just wanted to be sure you knew, she said. I was intrigued but couldn’t spot any posted information about the art, save for its title and the artist’s name. But, in searching later, I discovered that what I’d naively taken for an enlargement of an archival photo was actually a photograph of a carefully produced re-enactment of the 1971 incident; an artist’s interpretation of the police brutality that ensued. But, whether seen to be “real” or not by residents of this neighborhood, this piece’s vibrant color and amazing light bring a sad bit of Vancouver history to life right overhead.
HERE‘s a link to a short article about the artist, Stan Douglas, and about this work in particular. You may want to have a look as it includes a better representation of the image itself. It was a difficult thing to photograph with lots of sunlight streaming in and funny shadows. In the end, I added some texture which I think helped even things out and keep the focus on the artwork.