Collective Habitat is an Art show at the Gallery Gachet at 88 E. Cordova. Twenty seven past or present members of the Gachet collective are involved. The curator, Bernadine Fox, asked the artists for work representing their relationship to the Gachet.
The Gachet is an Artist-run centre whose members are survivors of the psychiatric system. Their work can be politically motivated, art against oppression, and personal journeys of abuse and marginalization. It’s often called “Outsider Art.”
“Housing Language” is Ayaz Kamani’s spin on gentrification, starting from the opposing points of view of Revitalization and Justice. He’s fascinated with how words can be distorted. “Gentrification is essentially individualistic – it ignores a greater responsibility because its primary concern is individual profit.”
Bruce Ray’s 3 lino cut prints titled “Children of the Damned” were inspired by his homelessness: “…being judged and pushed aside.” This expresses the process of being set apart from the community. This is the metaphor of darkness and how sometimes we “fall into it and can’t get up.”
Karen Ward’s small sculpture is called “Outsider”. It’s made of broken bricks from the Pantages “Sequel 138” site and broken glass from a shattered bus shelter that someone was thrown against. She explained at the Artists’ Talk on January 19 that these were actions that put people outside. “Stable housing and knowing where I’m going to get the next meal has made a HUGE difference” after a herstory of hospitalization, over-medication and despair. She said we’re unable to make art when we’re in a constant state of crisis. She represents the Gachet on the Local Area Planning Process with the City. Her idea is for Gachet members to use the gallery as a voice for the community, to get social housing for low income artists.
There was a lot of laughter around the topic of money. Bernadine said, “Artists don’t create gentrification. Artists are poor.” Quin Martins said, “Artists’ work is mostly unpaid. There isn’t any money in the arts, and there’s even less in mental health.”
There’s still time to see the show, as it closes on Sunday, Feb.17. On Friday, Feb.1 at 7:00 pm, there’s a free screening of “I Would Not Live in Heaven,” a short video about art and mental health by Vancouver artist Zola. It will be followed by “Shameless,” a NFB documentary on art, activism and disability by Bonnie Sherr Klein.