It could be considered a shield for the heart, or a statement on a culture of fear following 9/11. You could admire it as a beautiful brooch, or an interesting piece of art. Tobias Wong hit chords soft and strong when he produced the Ballistic Rose back in 2004.
Accompanying the rose is the Bulletproof Quilted Duvet, a black duvet cover made from Kevlar and sewn with a pattern of ivy and centered with a rose image. Usually, we don't associate roses with violence, or bullets with bedding. In my life, roses have typically been associated with old lady furniture, 1990s Home Interior decor, birthday cards from my grandmother, and things I need to buy for my mother's birthday.
To get a sense of just how far out the Ballistic Rose is from what we typically think of as roses, I hit OpenMOV with a search for "rose".
If this isn't "normal" for roses, I just don't know what it is. Laura Chadsey handed out these calling cards way back c. 1870-1890. A cute cat, a red rose.
A bit more unusal for the search for roses is a Foncie Foto of Rose McCarthy, who was visiting Vancouver from Winnipeg on a windy day in April 1955.
But my favourite is Pauline Johnson's lingerie bag - a small drawstring sack owned by the famous Mohawk poet and writer who was born in Brantford, ON, and died and was buried in Vancouver. She is known for writing Legends of Vancouver, and when she passed away in 1913 her funeral was the largest held in Vancouver to date.
In this video clip, Object(ing) co-curator Viviane Gosselin talks about the Ballistic Rose.
What rose artifacts do you have in your house or family?
About 400 visitors flooded the MOV last night for the opening of Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong, including Tobias friends and family - some from as far away as New York City and Hong Kong.
Photos from the night are now available on our Flickr account.
If you're interested in learning more about Tobias, grab a copy of today's Globe and Mail (Thursday, September 20) for a full page spread by Marsha Lederman, who includes quotes from both curators, his mom, and his friend and show content advisor, Pablo Griff.
You can also snag a copy of the Georgia Straight, where Janet Smith explores why Tobias is so notable.
Or, if your eyes need a break, listen in on Wednesday's CBC Early Edition piece, where Margaret Gallagher interviewed co-curator Viviane Gosselin.
A HUGE thank you to event sponsors Fork in the Road wine and Butler Did It catering. To Monnet Design who designed the truly beautiful catalogue. To Hemlock Printers for printing the catalogue.
We can't wait to invite you all to the opening of Sex Talk in the City next February!
This week we're getting liminal, exploring the edges of what we consider public and private, indoor and outdoor, and social and solitary. From the Great White Urinal, rooftop (and indoor) gardens, and designs for more social living, this instalment of MOVments is playing and engaging with Vancouver's in-between spaces.
Great White Landmark. Since the early 1970s, the corner of Granville and Georgia has been dominated by what some claim to be the "ugliest building" in downtown Vancouver (nicknamed the Great White Urinal for its large, white, windowless exterior). But not any longer. The plans for a new building designed by James Cheng were revealed yesterday. The new development will see Sears leave its long time home and a new Nordstrom's department store open in the heart of the city. Some city planners are hoping that the modern, glass building will help connect the feel and aesthetic of Robson Street, Robson Square, and the Vancouver Art Gallery to the rest of the downtown core. As architect Michael Heeney told the Globe and Mail, "One of the reasons Robson dissipates and loses its energy is because of that block."
Gardens in the Sky. Another new addition to downtown Vancouver? The first "urban vertical urban farm" in North America. Alterrus Systems is building a garden that will run on hydroponic technology and is expected to produce more than 150,000 pounds of leafy green vegetables and herbs annually. And yet another leafy answer to Vancouver's density dilemmas? Gorgeous rooftop flower gardens like this one featured in Forbes magazine. The owner of the house, Nick Kerchum seems like he has the right idea when it comes to gardening: his flowers are completely self-sufficient, and don't need to be watered or pruned.
Growing Up, Growing Together. In response to a recent Vancouver Foundation survey that looked at the increasing loneliness and isolation felt by many Vancouverites, architects Bing Thom, Michael Heeney, and Andy Yan, have written a manifesto that calls for more community-oriented urban planning in our city. Their piece is chalk full of quotable quotes around the need for creative responses to our evolving skyline: "Higher density residential living is ultimately unsustainable if the end result is simply the construction of gated vertical suburban communities in the sky." And the shortage of public spaces that encourage dialogue and promote comfortable interactions between strangers is an undercurrent throughout. Drawing an intriguing parallel, Thom, Heeney, and Yan bring attention to the in-between spaces that may need some tweaking, "Before (and probably long after) Facebook and Twitter, public spaces and streets were the original social network and, once in a while, this network could use some upgrading." On the other hand, sharing space on the streets may take some getting used to, as illustrated by this little story about recent food cart feuding.
Business Time. And lastly, Toby Barazzuol, chair of the Strathcona Business Improvement Association and upcoming Interesting Vancouver speaker, explores the intersections between business and community development in this fantastic opinion piece from the Vancouver Sun.
At the MOVeum:
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold
[Image: 700 Granville Street, west side, 1981. City of Vancouver photo, CVA 779-W02.16]
In Object(ing): The art/design ofTobias Wong, the MOV looks at relatively new objects - every day objects - that have been altered and given greater meaning by the Vancouver artist Tobias Wong.
Co-curators Todd Falkowsky and Viviane Gosselin have worked with more than 50 people from around the world to find Tobias' pieces, get stories, and find images. Tobias' had a great sense of humour, and in one of his pieces he took the Burberry pattern and put it on pin on buttons - thereby making this high-end fashion pattern accessible to everyone.
1" pin on buttons are so regularly used for making a statement, it got me thinking: what non-promotional (such as the PNE or Woodwords) buttons do we have in our collection? And I dug into OpenMOV.
There are, of course, political campaign buttons like this Vander Zalm button from 1986...
Buttons of support, like this simple yellow button that was part of a campaign for redress of treatment of Japanese Canadians during WWII, which resulted in a 1988 apology and financial compensation by the Canadian Government.
And there are protest buttons, like this 1997 No Casino button...
And then there are general statements, that pass as non-political but if you choose they certainly make a statement about possession...
I now encourage you to surf OpenMOV for buttons and share your favourites here!
And now we'll have the addition of Tobias' Burberry buttons. Covertly political, they make a statement on the posession of patterns, of logos, they speak to consumption and advertising and captialism. Here's Pablo Griff, Object(ing)'s Content Advisor and good friend of Tobias, talking about how the Burberry buttons came to be.
By Todd Falkowsky, co-curator of Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong
The first time I met Tobias Wong was in New York City in 2004, where we both had shows at the Felissimo House. As I was setting up my space, a small, very pleasant guy kept circling around and nodding his approval at what we were installing. As we were finishing, he finally came forward and introduced himself as a “big fan”. We chatted about the work and he shared some thoughts. It was only after he left, when I asked the curator who he was, did I find out that it was Tobias. Humble, interested, and filled with ideas. It was a genuine pleasure to meet someone with so much talent introduce himself as a fan when in fact he was a celebrated artist/designer with his star on an explosive rise. Well, the feeling was mutual.
I knew that designers appreciated Tobi’s work, but I realized his influence had run deeper when I was teaching at OCAD in Toronto. I was pleasantly surprised by how many design students wanted to do work like his. They were not looking to be designers in the traditional sense, but to become provocative and use product design as a mirror and comment on the status and purpose of our culture. They did not want to be Starck or Rashid; instead they wanted to be Tobias Wong, the artist who used design to break the rules. Tobi’s ideas and approach had impact on design practice, inviting designers to use their craft to create serious meaning and new ways of interacting with our communities.
Our paths continued to cross over the years and though we were able to work together a handful of times, we always talked about future projects to collaborate on, new shows, products, and publications. That opportunity was not meant to be — a reminder to grab the chances you have and to do the things you really want to do today, rather than tomorrow. I brought Tobias to Toronto in January 2010 for one of his last lectures, and showed his iconic “This is a Lamp” at the accompanying exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. This was the last time I talked to him.
Later that spring, upon learning of his passing, I immediately suspected that it was not real; the whole thing seemed surreal and mad, and in line with the shock that Tobi’s work sometimes embraced. I thought it was another irreverent yet more potent stunt, ratcheted up from past projects like his Core77 lecture or the elaborate installation, the Wrong Store in Manhattan. Reality settled in and as heartbreaking a loss it was for the art and design community, I felt his ideas and products would endure, and that his work should continue to be seen, discussed, and celebrated.
I had just moved to Vancouver and it struck me that Tobias’ international success deserved a long overdue homecoming, in the city where he was born and raised (and perhaps where his ideas had their beginning). For me, his work was avant-garde, blending design and art, opening both professions up to new directions; work that is still important and deserves to be promoted and shared.
The Museum of Vancouver has graciously opened their doors to me, and the idea for this show, bringing the work of this remarkable Vancouverite home. Tobi’s family, close friends, colleagues, and fans have opened their hearts to share with us their thoughts and experience to understand and contextualize the work (not to mention lending it to us in the first place). I am honoured to have played a part in bringing this exhibition together. I hope Tobias’ work lives on and continues to inspire, disrupt, and provoke.
Object(ing) opens to the public September 20, 2012. A limited number of tickets are available to attend the opening night.
The way we envision, project, and ultimately imagine a community into being is immensely powerful (just ask Benedict Anderson). This week we're looking at how Vancouver is being shaped by our imaginings and ideas (or in some cases lack thereof) around streetscapes, public space, transit routes, and Aboriginal education.
Civic Bling. Have you ever tried to imagine what East Hastings might look like with more bike racks, trees, and street furniture? With Blockee, a new web-based app, you can redesign it completely using images taken from Google Street View. It's a pretty fun little project put out by Code for America, but as OpenFile reports, there are more serious applications. For example: with 150,000 more trees to be planted in Vancouver over the next eight years, OpenFile produced a greened up, and blinged out, vision for Hastings between Dunlevy and Gore, an area which has long been conspicuously free of greenery.
Reimagining Public Space. GOOD and the BMW Guggenheim Lab have announced the winners of their 2012 Transform a Public Place competition. With over 120 submissions proposing innovative ways of making public space more comfortable, Vancouver's own Rodrigo Caula was awarded one of the top five spots. His team's Ingrain Reclaimed Street Furniture Project converted a 205-year-old fallen tree into a public bench that is currently being displayed on Granville Island. As he says, "...Our intention was to give it new life and to use its story as the foundation of a movement that seeks to better respect our precious resources." Woot! Go Vancouver!
At the MOVeum:
Vancouver vs. Vancouverism. Last week Bob Ransford asked Vancouver Sun readers to rethink the practicality of what is commonly known as Vancouverism architecture. He argues that the tendency toward building high-density, glass high-rises, actually prevents more innovative, people-based designs from springing up. As his interviewee, architect Gair Williamson, suggests, "The trouble with architecture in Vancouver is that many architects are failing to look at the substance of how people inhabit buildings. They’re looking at how buildings appear. It’s about style over substance." In this context, dear MOVers, what do you think of the new proposal for development of 2220 Kingsway by Henriquez Partners Architects? Does this represent the future of our neighborhood strips? Of Vancouverism? Is it more stylish than substantive? (5 points per question)
At the MOVeum:
September 13 - Art Deco Chic: Talk & Tour with Ivan Sayers | Design Challenge Winners Panel
September 19 - Opening Night - Object(ing): The art/design of Tobias Wong September 20 - Built City @MOV: Urban Evolution, Retold
[Image: Brockton Point 18th Annual Inter High School Sports programme, c. 1929. From the MOV Collections H2008.23.437]