Public talk with Christos Dikeakos: “How the City Spoke to Us”

By Naomi Horii As part of programming for the Maraya Project, Centre A hosted a public talk by Christos Dikeakos. In this talk, Dikeakos examined “the historical mirroring of land speculation and the building and rebuilding of the city in what he calls “a systemic 'Frontier-ism' of economic behavior” (Dikeakos bio, Maraya Website) Christos contextualizes the Maraya Project from a heavily researched and personal, artistic perspective. He begins the talk by reminding us that the False Creek mud flats before colonialism was kept and used as fishing and hunting grounds for indigenous communities here. Vancouver’s False Creek ‘frontier’ projects, whether Expo 86, the Olympics, or the Concord Pacific Developments, has been in the rapid practice of ‘clearing’ or ‘erasing’ of original histories. His documentation work in the late sixties, as he put it, started out as speculative and sometimes conceptual photography, but became an important part of historical documentation of Vancouver. Christos1 by naominaomi Dikeakos’ work documenting the “shapeshifting” mudflats—the demolition piles, the detritus of urban renewal projects for, as one audience member added, “a one year warranty” invites us to look to the ground once again. Where Maraya artists Lowry, Tsang, and Levin place the viewer to look down from the glassy buildingtops, Dikeakos also invites us to view the shifting shorelines, the clear-cuts, and the toxic soil upon which Vancouver is rapidly changing and building upward. I had historical and archival images of False Creek in my mind as I walked home. I walked through Chinatown, and then to the False Creek waterfront, crossing Pacific Blvd to the Concord Pacific presentation centre. Focusing my eye upward to their billboard: “Shaping Horizons for the Future” A kind of ‘clearing the slate’ with clean glass, and concrete. ‘Shapeshifting’ the skyline. Christos Dikeakos peeled back many layers of Vancouver history: from industrial sawmills and abbatoirs, migrant workers, to the old waterway and cedar-block hand-made roads of Chinatown: he remembers and uncovers stories of False Creek, without romanticizing it, but by sharing personal stories, collaborative projects, and reflections. He invites us to share in this poetic story. Christos2 by naominaomi