The lost souls of Vancouver's downtown eastside! The Olympic Committee didn't try to hide them away after all, to get them off the streets, make them invisible, as rumour had insisted was the plan. If anything, the decision to have the olympic flame relay pass through the troubled area, near the end of its coast to coast journey in the months leading up to the games, seemed the equivalent of an international announcement "This is part of our city too, these are our less fortunate citizens" Though the relay did have to be rerouted somewhat, due to the rowdy protests of activists for the homeless.
In another move, a 57ft tall outdoor LED sculpture, carrying the words "east" & "van" which, horizontally & vertically, make a crucifix, was commissioned by Vanoc's arts funding council. The east-van cross has long been a graffiti image of the tough eastside & now artist Ken Lum's inspiration for his contemporary sculpture. He grew up there, the son of low-paid chinese immigrant workers.The permanent "Monument for East Vancouver arises" has already become a defining symbol of the inner city & promotes critical discourse. It lights up at night. It looks a potent symbol of suffering. No, I havn't seen it. Wish I had. There was a fabulous nightshot from Rafal Gerszak for the Globe & Mail / Tuesday March 2nd.
Was also directed, via The Globe & Mail, to the website of Vancouver photographer Eric Deis whose campaign, through raw candid 2 gigapixel photographs of the eastside's streetlife, was to bring all eyes that were on Vancouver for the Olympics to the truth of the plight of the inhabitants of downtown eastside.
None of it immediately helps those sleeping on the streets tonight, or the one who's going to overdose tomorrow or get beat up or die of AIDS but it seems a step turned in a direction that might have city hall actively looking for longterm solutions. They have acknowledged the condition. Perhaps they will also act. It isn't going to be easy .......but then again, nothing worthwhile ever is , is it?
see previous post January 13th 2010 : the dilemma of vancouver's eastside......