Preston Buffalo: Go Home Yuppie Scum
Preston Buffalo, Prior Street, November 2022, 2022, View-Master reel, giclée print.

Preston Buffalo: Go Home Yuppie Scum

SUM gallery, Vancouver, BC - April 11 – June 6

by Michael Turner

“GO HOME YUPPIE SCUM” was a common tag marking empty or sold homes in East Vancouver in the 1980s. For those unsure of what “yuppie” means, it derives from an acronym—young urban professional (yup-)—appended to first-out-of-the-gate “hippie”-generation boomers who, at that point, had enough money saved to enter a less-expensive eastside housing market. That the tag was seen by some as an anti-gentrification statement is in itself an indication of how class politics too were being made over.

For artists like Preston Buffalo, a tag is a door to related tensions, from the intergenerational to the heteronormative to race relations. Certainly this was true of the provincial government’s effort to “sell” British Columbia as a tourist destination, declaring itself “Supernatural,” “Beautiful” even. The same was true at the municipal level, with the “Welcome to Vancouver” View-Master campaign that began in the 1960s and, amazingly, endured into the 1980s. Each stereoscopic reel contained landmarks emblematic of a city that was clearly more interested in strangers with money than neighbours without it.

In place of tourist-luring images, Buffalo has inserted pictures of crumbling buildings, abandoned rail lines, thorny brambles—all of it eerily depopulated, often with infrared filters that give the images a nightmare-on-Mars quality. Vintage View-Masters, each outfitted with its own carefully composed reel, are placed throughout the gallery interior. Visitors are encouraged to move from station to station and explore the themes therein.

Go Home Yuppie Scum is part of the 2024 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibitions Program.

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