The last box of periodicals in the Artspeak Library contains Writing magazine. Founded in 1980 by Fred Wah, David McFadden, and Julian Ross, Writing ran until 1992, with a run consisting of 28 issues. Published by the Kootenay School of Writing, the magazine featured writing by established and emerging poets. Alongside its publishing activities, KSW’s interdisciplinary approach to writing offered a number of workshops, and courses, as well as organizing readings, lectures, and colloquia.
Artspeak’s early association with KSW began in 1986, when both organizations shared space at 105 – 1045 West Broadway. This initial interdisciplinary community of artists and writers continues to shape our programming today. In 2016 we ran the first iteration of the Studio for Emerging Writers (facilitated by Sheryda Warrener), a program that emphasizes collaborative and experimental approaches to writing and learning by visual artists and creative writers. Attempting to find different approaches to write about art, with the intent to see what can emerge in that space between visual arts and writing practices. With its focus on collaborative work, the aims of the Studio program are not dissimilar to that of KSW. In their Introduction to Writing Class: The Kootenay School of Writing Anthology, editors Andrew Klobucar and Michael Barnholden identify the processes of working and creating together as defining KSW’s aims – ‘Inspired by labour unions and their capacity to effect significant social change, KSW often worked as well as wrote collectively. The prominence of collaborative work and thinking demonstrates the school’s high regard for communal identities. In other words, what kept KSW writers together, either professionally or personally, was friendship and a common perspective on poetry.’
Something that caught my eye was the advertisements on the back covers of the 1986 issues for ‘Split Shift: Colloquium On the New Work Writing’, which was held at the Trout Lake Community Centre, and sponsored by the Kootenay School of Writing and the Vancouver Industrial Writers’ Union. With precarity and scarcity remaining a constant that determines current labour conditions in the arts and cultural sector, a colloquium such as Split Shift unfortunately remains highly relevant 35 years on.
Through their dedication to write, think, and read together, KSW’s work always remained grounded, and critically engaged with wider socio-political urgencies, as Klobucar and Barnholden recognize – ‘The KSW has never claimed to be a visionary organization in the leftist, or any other, ideological tradition. The school’s primary political concerns focused instead on whether language, in art or writing, could effectively displace a system that works for the few at the expense of so many’.
— Artspeak Director/Curator Bopha Chhay on Summer in the Stacks
 We’re looking forward to launching the third iteration of the Studio for Emerging Writers in Spring 2022.
 Klobucar, Andrew and Michael Barnholden. Writing Class: The Kootenay School of Writing Anthology, New Star Books, Vancouver, 1999, pp. 4.
 Ibid., pp. 33.
We’ve been reading a lot over the last few weeks whilst digging through the library archives, sometimes uttering a line or two aloud while pacing from the shelves to the table—dangling something to discuss later. We’re also reading together: Uneven Bodies (Reader), edited by Ruth Buchanan et al.. A compilation of symposium texts interrogating institutional power structures in galleries and museum collections, written and gathered with much care.
In the introduction, Buchannan poses a question while addressing the complexities that arise when invested communities begin interrogating institutional collections, the latter of which seem to require a certain amount of “holding and constraining” to function. She asks: “How can an institution become a container for . . . those rendered barely visible by history, those who require adjustments in order to engage with the content and those who simply want to gut such structures from the inside out?”
Buchanan’s question brings up others for me. How do you become a container for contradiction? Or hold without constraining? What does it mean to hold a collection that is never whole but a gathering of many parts always in flux? What if we start thinking about the holes in a collection rather than the whole collection?
In their four part collaborative series, artist Andrea Heller and writer Rebecca Geldard think a lot about holes. Through small stories and soft imagery, Holeness (Artspeak, 2013) gracefully and playfully wonders what might happen when our need to stabilize by blocking/filling holes meets our curiosity to dig, pull and look inside the hollows/voids/caverns waiting beyond the surface. In this series, holes become a means of transportation and exploration. They become portals, webs and networks of fruitful accidental exposure.
I like a hole as a recognized lack. As an undoing of hard ground, a visible slippage that makes room. Holes call into question the solidity of structures by making space for something new to seep in. Like breath or water, or new voices and fresh eyes.
— Artspeak Summer Intern Yasmine Whaley-Kalaora on “Summer in the Stacks”.
 Buchanan, Ruth. “Uneven Bodies.” Uneven Bodies (Reader). Edited by Ruch Buchanan et al.,, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 2021. pp. 3.
 Ibid., pp. 3.
A recent addition to Artspeak’s library is Uneven Bodies (Reader). Built around transcripts from a 2020 symposium of the same title, and informed by Ruth Buchanan’s 2019-20 exhibition at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery (Aotearoa New Zealand), the Reader’s texts consider “approaches that weave in and out of the institution in order to recalibrate the ways in which we produce, engage with and shape collections” .
Neck deep in Artspeak’s library I wonder: how do catalogues, artist books, miscellaneous literature and periodicals—cobbled together via decades of curatorial research and directorship—serve to reflect an art organization’s values and intentions, and how does this compare to the reflective qualities of an art collection?
Their similarities are more abundant than their differences. Books are to be held close, thumbed through, and touched, whereas collected artworks are to be held at arm’s length, by acquisition policy, and as endowment—but both are shelved when not in use. An organizational library may be more intendedly private, but artworks don’t regularly feel the breath of the public either. As well, books and art are both lent out to ‘friends’ (for reading or for exhibition), with accompanying worry regarding loss and damage. While the ramifications of a stilted art collection are more staggering—given that many museums operate through at least partial public funding and their collected works are considered as markers of ‘excellence’—a library does justify and reflect the decisions of those in leadership positions.
In light of their parallel operations, a sense of responsibility and opportunity for visioning arises within an art gallery’s book shelves. As collections “walk a tightrope, balancing on the one hand a commitment to capturing the important artists and conversations of a given moment and, on the other, creating a microcosm of a world that we hope for, that we strive towards into the future,” so too must institutional libraries .
— Alexandra Bischoff on “Summer in the Stacks”.
Our newest publication initiative is underway, with its first issue fresh off the press!
‘BEACON – a pamphlet series in ten issues’ focuses on how the commitment of artists’ to wider social movements informs contemporary artistic practice. The series will feature texts by artists whose practices engage with language and visual arts.
Issue 1 is Ruth Buchanan’s “Where does my body belong? From institutional critique to infrastructural transformation Or Standards and Mothers”. This issue also includes texts by J.C. Sturm and Anne Boyer.
Purchase via our website for pick-up or mail delivery; $12 ea. or $100 for a subscription to the whole series.
As I sift through and arrange Artspeak’s wealth of publications, and as I learn more about the history of the gallery’s current home at 233 Carrall, connective tissues across century-long concerns emerge.
For example, the exhibition catalogue for Susan Schuppli’s 1996 exhibition Domicile includes a text by Patrick Mahon, who explores feminist spatial criticism alongside Schuppli’s work. Early in his essay, Mahon considers how “relations of representation and difference within the spatial matrix of the city . . . are implicit within any history of space” . These matrices include numerous intersections of identity, but the traditional “notion of ‘a public man and a private woman’” in particular informs the city’s earliest examples of gendered economies .
Via Mahon’s text, I reflect on the Old Granville Townsite’s (ie. Gastown’s) predominantly ‘masculine’ origins. As former Vancouver Sun journalist Pete McMartin frames it, 85% of the city’s first colonial settlement “consisted of single males with no permanent homes, and sleep was the last thing on their minds” . Sex work was such a prevalent part of the local economy that one of Vancouver’s earliest de facto tax systems was developed specifically for well-known Madame Birdie Stewart and her “ladies,” as their “cash flow rivalled the city’s” . As it turns out, this tax against a very public-facing class of women, which “started as a sort of business licence” and “became protection money,” was decided upon at the Bodega Saloon .
233 Carrall was built circa 1886 as the Bodega Saloon and housed many businesses of the same name over the years: the Bodega Hotel, Boarding House, Cabaret, Cafe, and so on. In memoriam of its fabled origins, a Vancouver Province journalist wrote in 1900 that “[n]o public meeting could be held, no city council or committee sit without an adjournment to the Bodega, there to fight the battles over again, and incidentally drink a bit” . In other words, the Bodega was a boys club, where men could gather to decide things and settle arguments—whether about government and taxes, real estate and gambling, or what to do about a jailed drove of errant cows (their crime: cabbage patch destruction) .
In light of the Bodega’s patriarchal origins, it seems fitting that Artspeak moved into 233 Carrall one hundred years later. An organization helmed by women since its formation, Artspeak has always sought to provide space for cultural conversations which oppose the “historical over-determination of the public world as the domain of a masculine subject” . While these efforts may never completely eradicate the psychic hangovers of the macho Bodega, they do insert a distinctly feminist volume into the building’s storied histories.
— Communications + Operations Manager Alexandra Bischoff on “Summer in the Stacks”.
 Schuppli, Susan, and Patrick Mahon. Domicile: Susan Schuppli. Edited by Susan Edelstein, Artspeak Gallery, 1996. pp. 8.
 Ibid. pp. 9.
 McMartin, Pete. “When Gamblers Flourished.” The Vancouver Sun, 4 June 1986, p. B5.
 The timing of this research discovery feels even more pressing, as the federal government’s 2014 Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which criminalizes most aspects of sex work, is slated to be reviewed this year. The “ladies tax” of 1886 may be seen as our city’s first movement toward the criminalization of sex work, the negative consequences of which are still felt.
 “In Memoriam – Bodega.” The Vancouver Daily Province (1900-1952), Jul 12, 1900, pp. 3.
 Matthews, Major James Skitt. Early Vancouver, Vol. 3. Vancouver: City of Vancouver, 2011. pp. 202.
 Schuppli, Susan, and Patrick Mahon. Domicile: Susan Schuppli. Edited by Susan Edelstein, Artspeak Gallery, 1996. pp. 8.
We are pleased to announce that Yasmine Whaley-Kalaora has joined our team as Artspeak’s Summer Intern.
Yasmine Whaley-Kalaora (she/they) is an emerging artist/writer/curator living and working on the territories of the xwməθkwəýəm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations. A recent graduate with a Bachelors in Art History from the University of British Columbia, Yasmine’s interests revolve around embodied methodologies as sites of activism and activation within theory, art and curatorial praxis. Yasmine’s practice is largely situated around video, field recordings, collage, writing and ongoing citation.
As the Assistant Director of the Hatch Art Gallery in 2020, Yasmine curated two shows with the works of the AMS Permanent Collection, which focused on public engagement and a broader re-framing of the collection’s mandate moving forward. These days, Yasmine is working as the Digital Archives Manager for the LIVE Performance Art Biennale and as an artist assistant to Tom Burrows.
Artspeak is pleased to announce that Alexandra Bischoff has joined our team as our new Communications and Operations Manager.
Alexandra Bischoff (she/her) is an amiskwacîwâskahikan/Edmonton born performance artist and writer. She holds a diploma from MacEwan University and BFA in Visual Arts Studio from Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Bischoff is an MFA candidate at Concordia University in the department of Intermedia. She currently lives on the territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations, otherwise known as Vancouver.
Bischoff’s art practice is based in durational performance and installation. The nature of labour, precarious living, and underrepresented archives are some of her primary concerns. As an arts administrator and project manager, Bischoff has most recently worked with the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC), the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, as well as with several independent artists. Since 2018, she has been a Board member for VIVO Media Arts Centre.
For Postscript 79, Chelsea Lee Wood responds to Jesse Gray’s exhibition “Mesomonuments” (October 30–December 12, 2020). Read it here.
Start Date: April 2021
Hours: 28 hours/week. Temporary contract position, 15 months
Salary: $38,000 per annum, with benefits
Apply by 4pm PST on March 5, 2021
Working with and reporting to the Director/Curator, the Communications and Operations Manager assumes responsibility in the areas of communications, operations, exhibitions, publications, special project coordination, and administration. The Communications and Operations Manager is an individual with a diverse skill set who can demonstrate a committed and active knowledge in contemporary art, writing, and culture. Our ideal candidate is enthusiastic about working in a context that is challenging traditional formats of presentation and dissemination for visual art and writing. The initiatives promoted by the gallery require a self-directed team worker who is organized, forward thinking, and able to respond flexibly and confidently to new challenges. This is a temporary position (15 months) working 28 hours weekly (4-day week) commencing in April 2021. Artists are encouraged to apply.
Artspeak is a leading Canadian artist-run centre established in 1986. The mandate of the gallery is to exhibit contemporary art and to encourage a dialogue between visual art and writing. Artspeak actively contributes to cultural communities through our commitment to artists producing challenging, innovative work in diverse media, our affiliation with various arts organizations, and the public interest we generate in contemporary art. Throughout its history Artspeak has played a significant role in addressing the historical, social, and intellectual conditions of contemporary visual and language arts production from the West Coast and beyond. Artspeak is a registered non-profit organization.
(Attached: Schedule A- Job Description PDF 17 KB)
• Assists the Director/Curator with exhibitions, publications, events and special projects including external communications and logistical coordination with artists and writers
• Oversees communications in consultation with the Director/Curator including external communications, social media, advertising, production and editing of materials, website and archive maintenance
• Oversees and maintains gallery systems such as publication files, archives, support materials, computer hardware, manuals, and digital and physical filing systems
• Oversees day-to-day operations of Artspeak’s facilities as the key liaison with building and strata management
• Oversees exhibition installation including scheduling, shipping, fabrication, equipment purchase and rental
• Recruits, schedules and supervises gallery interns, volunteers, and contract and program staff
• Assists Director/Curator with grant preparation and reporting
• Participates in Annual General Meetings, Board retreats and fundraising campaigns
QUALIFICATIONS (Education, Skills, Knowledge)
• 3-5 years of administrative experience at an art gallery or other cultural institution
• Demonstrated experience in communications, operations, exhibition installation coordination and knowledge of presentation requirements
• Exemplary knowledge of contemporary art practices
• Excellent organizational, communication (verbal and written), and time management skills
• Proficiency in Mac OSX, Microsoft Office, and Campaign Monitor, and familiarity with Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat), WordPress, Filemaker Pro, and social media tools
• An understanding of the ethos and history of the Canadian artist-run centre movement
• Strong work ethic and initiative, and able to work independently
• Ability to work flexible hours including evenings and weekends
• A valid driver’s license is an asset
BENEFITS AND PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE
Extended dental and medical benefits are available after the three-month probationary period is complete. Six weeks paid vacation and flexibility to support artist’s professional practices.
HOW TO APPLY
Artspeak is committed to the principles of Employment Equity and encourages applications from members of groups that have been historically disadvantaged and marginalized. These include women, persons with diverse gender expressions and identities, persons of all sexual orientations, racialized persons, persons with disabilities, and First Nations, Metis, Inuit and Indigenous persons. All qualified candidates are welcome to apply, however Canadians and permanent residents of Canada, and those who hold a Canadian work permit will be given priority.
Applications should include a brief letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and the names and contact details for three references. Deadline for application is 4:00pm PST on March 5, 2021.
Please send applications by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that only successful candidates will be contacted. Thank you in advance for your interest.