The PuSh Festival has a history of filling the Roundhouse with cool and unusual art. This year it is a collaboration between a British director and sound designer and a group of artists from Vancouver. The performance begins with several people laying down small pieces of wood. The meaning in unclear until a shape starts to emerge. How fast you recognize this pattern depends on your fondness for maps and your intimacy with Vancouver. The sticks, it turns out, are mapping the physical outline of Vancouver. Over the next hour, this map is filled with other objects which define the physical and cultural space as well as the progression of Vancouver's history for the last one hundred and twenty-five years.
The concept is brilliant: tea lights, shells, sand, lego, bricks, dominos, a glass of sherry and a tea service all visually illustrate change in the city. The soundscape is mostly ambient sounds - wind, chanting, the felling of timber - but it also includes interviews and radio spots from days past. It is hypnotic and mesmerizing. The only drawback was that because there is no spoken dialogue in the piece, many people in the audience talked through the performance (don't do it!).
City of Dreams is on January 25 – 29, 2011, 8pm at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre. There is a matinee on Jan 29th.
Presented in conjunction with City of Dreams, Counter Mapping is an exhibition that presents art animated by ideas from cultural geography. Some of the pieces are a little mundane but others are fun, whimsical, beautiful and really do invite viewers to imagine mapping and the city in a new way. It will be on display in the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall from January 18-29. It is free and open to the public Mon-Fri 9am - 10pm; Sat-Sun 9am-5pm.