IAN TAN GALLERY, Vancouver BC – Nov 7 – 30
by Michael Turner
Climate change manifests in events often associated with physical geography. From crumbling polar ice caps to massive forest fires, spectacular images like these are nowhere near as hair-raising as what happens further down the chain when we are confronted by a bear rummaging through the compost bin or a coyote flittering down the sidewalk with an oven mitt in its mouth. Encounters like these provide the ground for Kevin Lanthier’s latest series of pictures.
Bears in Our Backyard (2020) features a family of three bears at the rear of a suburban house at twilight. While the parents confer, the cub is on the patio peeking through the kitchen window. The scene might have a more benign, if not “good natured”, feeling if the cub were sniffing the covered barbecue nearby. That it has turned its attention to what is inside the house allows the picture its malevolence. A similar effect is available in Olympic Village Beavers (2020), where a colony of beavers occupies what looks like a military base on the eve of an invasion.
Although The Crow Commute (2020) may not be directly related to climate change, the presence of crows flying en masse over Vancouver at dusk can be seen as a Greek chorus to the increased presence of a more threatening, if not threatened, urban wildlife. Of these crows, Lanthier writes in his series description of a 1903 cull instigated by the City of Vancouver. “Despite the cull, there are an abundance of crows in Vancouver today, and over a hundred years later, every evening, thousands of them fly to the suburbs to roost, interestingly just outside of Vancouver’s offcial city limits.”