BURNABY ART GALLERY, Burnaby BC – April 3 – May 3
by Michael Turner
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody,” wrote Canadian-American urbanist Jane Jacobs, “only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” For most of us, this is a proposition to live by; but for those who ask more of what it means to create, the question is moot. Is creating a city the work of developers and local governments, or is it a social sculpture in search of a critic, a curator or, like Brad McMurray, an artist to make sense of? More than likely it’s both.
Born in Penticton, B.C., in 1951, McMurray “attended some art schools” before setting out in the world, camera in hand. Cities were an attractive subject for many free-wheeling young men with cameras, particularly after curator William Jenkins’ groundbreaking 1975 New Topographics exhibition at the George Eastman House in Rochester, N.Y. In his current BAG exhibition, McMurray’s pictures provide evidence of the “idiosyncratic structures and designs of the urban and peri-urban environment” and how they determine the urban subject, in Burnaby and beyond.
Interstitial and liminal zones constitute a common theme in McMurray’s pictures. Sometimes these zones feature contrasting interfaces of Nature and Culture, or, as in topiary (a common subject of the urban photographer), where the two fuse. Other interfaces include the meeting of residential and light-industrial areas, or markers such as railroad tracks that divide the city into “haves” and “have-nots.”
For those interested in “reading” the city as McMurray does, he and curator Jennifer Cane have devised a one-hour walking tour of the Metrotown area and its industrial district. The event is free but requires registration (online or call 604-297-4422). Bring your camera! Check website for updates.
Opening reception April 2, 7-9pm (check website for updates)