Insights on “It Was Something and Then It Became Something Else.”

Juan Cisneros Neumann’s exhibition isn’t just focused on the space within the gallery, but instead extends from the neighbourhood around him to all of North America. On the back wall is an illustration of the American and Canadian flags crossed with an arrow pointing to LA LA LAND. Hollywood being a huge influencer of both countries culture and consumerism. There is also a galaxy in a frame seemingly out of place. But with the knowledge that it is the “Sombero Galaxy” one can make connections to both major symbols of  heritage and the truly infinitesimal importance of man in the universe.

Not only are the symbols of his illustrations compelling, but the material itself as well. Juan created his drawings with hand made crayons consisting of chilli peppers, beeswax, and earth. Different chilli peppers were used to achieve the range of colours. These organic marking materials have a faint scent that is enhanced by the slow cooking chilli peppers in the gallery. The materiality is soft and has deep cultural ties showing the artists hand. His reflexivity to his environment is also present in his drawings.

At first look one might wonder “Who is Jordan Eng? And why is he leasing the land?”  A little attention to the neighbourhood reveals the answer – his signs are across the street advertising prime China town real estate. His signs are actually all over the area. Juan has also chosen to include the paper which protests the gentrification of the area and rallies to save  105 Keefer street from development, and contrast it on the same window with a historical illustration depicting the bounty of the “new world.” His work is enjoyable, but also includes serious awareness of the history of colonialism and present day world issues. As with most art you could say the work is a reflection of Juan Cisneros Neumann himself – Or you could have entirely your own interpretation of it and that works too. There’s lots more to see in this show. It’s definitely not one to miss.

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Starting off 2017 with Juan Cisneros Neumann

Juan Cisneros Neumann: It Was Something and Then It Became Something Else

January 27 to March 11

“It Was Something and Then It Became Something Else” is the result of several cups of coffee and months of conversations between Juan Cisneros and Unit/Pitt curator Jamie Ward. Their interactions range from issues of politics to the stress of being a Second Class Citizen that is often invisible to the general public body. Notions of identity and heritage, colonialism and power are explored in a drawn installation made from chili peppers and beeswax and divided by ethnic fabrics. Halfway through the show, Juan will slowly begin the erasure of the piece, eliminating the art from the white cube. Alongside the installation in the galleries’ library Juan has also included a 2 channel video piece called South-South.

An accompanying publication will also be produced for the exhibit and available as a limited edition print.

Juan Cisneros Neumann is a recent Visual Arts graduate of the Emily Carr University. Since 2006 he has worked in advertising, television and animated films. His current studio is located in the heart of Chinatown in the Downtown East Side. His work is based primarily on drawing but is constantly supported by sculpture, video, publications and installation. Born and raised in Mexico city, Juan currently lives and works in Vancouver, B.C.


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Everybody Needs Everyone’s Help Right Now

Solidarity - Kathe KollwitzWe need your help — please donate to UNIT/PITT now, and please consider supporting some of the many great organizations in our neighbourhood with an equivalent donation.

We’re making a last-minute request — if you have considered donating to the Pitt, if you think our risk-taking programming and commitment to emerging artists and emerging practices is worth supporting, you have until midnight on December 31st to receive a tax receipt for your online donation.

We also know that our friends are receiving dozens of requests for money right now, and that many of the causes and organizations making those requests do vitally important work. That’s why we are suggesting that when you donate to us, you also donate to someone else in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Downtown Eastside neighbourhoods. In our earlier messages, we asked you to support the Overdose Prevention Society, who are saving lives every day, and to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, who help provide nutritious food to some of our neighbours. We’d also like to add to this list our friends at the Chinatown Concern Group, who are working through the Carnegie Community Centre to protect the low-income residents of Chinatown who are the life of the community.

You may not have much money to spare. We understand. We live and work in Vancouver and are being squeezed by the same forces that are causing economic chaos and deprivation across the city. But your ten or twenty or fifty dollars helps immensely, especially if you are able to make a small monthly donation (they’re easy to set up using our CanadaHelps page).

Thanks for your support this year. Here’s to more lives being saved, people being fed, seniors’ housing being saved, and more art that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else. And as artists working in and around this community, we have a responsibility to show solidarity with people doing good work all around us. Let’s all continue to help each other in 2017.

Donate now to UNIT/PITT. Donate to Overdose Prevention Society. Donate to the DTES Neighbourhood House. Donate to the Chinatown Concern Group. 

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Join the Action

Donate now to support UNIT/PITT. While you’re doing that, please also donate to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House.

It has been an amazing year at the Pitt: we did almost twice as much programming — exhibitions, talks, screenings, performance than what we do in a typical year. At the same time, we are being squeezed by the same property tax increases that are making longstanding neighbourhood businesses shut their doors.

Even a small donation helps. Please consider helping us right now, or setting up a small monthly donation if that suits you better (it’s easy to do, just select “donate monthly” on our CanadaHelps page and follow the steps).

We’re situated in a neighbourhood with a lot of urgent needs and a lot of people and organizations doing their best to meet those needs. If you donate to the Pitt, please also consider donating something to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, which feeds a lot of people and educates the public through initiatives like the Right to Food zine.

Donate now to UNIT/PITT. Donate now to the DTES Neighbourhood House.

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Last week of Corbin Union: Inversus Mundi

Thanks to everyone who has come by so far to see Corbin Union: Inversus Mundi. In case you haven’t seen it yet, the exhibition runs until Saturday, December 17th. After that, we will be closed until mid-January.

Watch our site for announcements of upcoming events and exhibitions—you can also subscribe to our mailing list or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thank you for your support in 2016!

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Self-Indulgence at this Time is Helping the Enemy

self-indulgence… but we’re going to ask you to indulge us briefly to read this message.

This is a plea for your support. You’re going to get a lot of these in the next month or so, from a lot of different organizations, who all need your support. If you’re inclined, please consider a one-time or monthly donation to UNIT/PITT, so that we can continue supporting new and underexposed artists, so that we can keep our studio rents low, so that we can continue to pay artists fairly, and so that the Pitt can keep going well past its 41st year. It’s easy to donate to us through CanadaHelps.

We realize that there are a lot of worthy organizations and causes out there that need your support too. This is why we’re asking you to contribute to a group that is doing valuable work in our neighbourhood, the Overdose Prevention Society. Please consider dividing whatever you were going to donate, so that part of your support goes to the Pitt and part of it goes to ODS (we think 50/50 would be good, but it’s up to you).

Every little bit helps. If you have twenty bucks, we’re not going to turn our noses up at it, or half of it, and neither will they. We’re all under fire here from austerity, gentrification, looming environmental and societal disaster, and the culture-war fallout from the US election, and we appreciate you standing with us.

Don’t aid the enemy. Donate now. Donate now to UNIT/PITT. Donate now to Overdose Prevention Society.

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Musik Klub 5: Culture War! Edition

screen-shot_MusikKlub5Thank you to all of you who joined us for the riveting premiere of Musik Klub’s second season, beginning with the Culture War! Edition. Stay tuned for upcoming screenings featuring a number of themes attempting to make some sense of current times. In the meantime, check out the playlists compiled by Jamie Ward below.

“For this screening, we’ll get in the the mud as the US scrambles towards election, Britain sweats out its EU referendum, and Europe’s nerves tingle from a rise in far right politics. Misogyny, authoritarianism, racism…we’ve smelled it before, and risen up in kind. Tonight we’ll look at how music and video in the waning days of the Cold War gave voice to radicalized frustration, creating new models for resistance and new visions for hope, boiled up in wicked fashion. Music is the answer, music is our saviour.”



Past Editions: Musik Klub: TV Party Edition, Musik Klub 2: Selectors Special Edition, Musik Klub 3: Phase Induction Edition, and Musik Klub: Good Times Ahead Edition with Penny Jo Buckner.

MUSIK KLUB is a video screening series organized and hosted by Jamie Ward and is intended to use the music video as a vehicle for critique, but with a nod to the tradition of classic variety hours such as Beat Club, Old Grey Whistle Test, Top Pop & Musikladen. Video performances are sourced from a variety of international television music programs, scopitones and promotionals broadcast or created between 1965 & 1995. Come out, drink refreshing beverages, hang with friends and listen to (and watch) some great music. Ends early so you can keep the night going; it’s like happy hour for adventurous music & video fan-fiends.

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Final days of Joseph Staples: Garden of Paradise

Garden of Paradise 02

There are less than two weeks left to see Joseph Staples’ exhibition, Garden of Paradise. Come by now through October 22 to watch Staples’ series of mesmerizing, collaged GIFS.

UNIT/PITT Projects is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5pm at 236 East Pender Street. See you soon!

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Fall 2016 at the Pitt starts on Friday, September 9

Garden of ParadiseWe’re now mostly recovered from the intense year of programming that was the 2055 Project, and this summer’s T.A.Z. and Chinatown Maps events, and we’re getting ready to launch another year of exhibitions, talks, screenings, and everything else.

We’re starting fall 2016 with Joseph Staples: Garden of Paradise, a compelling and strange exhibition of video loops, curated by Associate Director Jamie Ward. It will be opening during the latest edition of SWARM, a city-wide festival of artist-run culture.

The opening is not the only thing we’re doing on Friday the 9th. SWARM can be busy and sometimes loud, so instead of a loud, frantic after party, we’re inviting you to come to the Pitt after 10 to UNSWARM with music by Zen Finger and Hazy, as we turn our exhibition space into decompression zone.

Later in the fall we’ll be presenting the just-announced exhibition Atrum Fortuna by the artists of Corbin Union, and we’ll be announcing our schedule of other events as they get closer. For now, we’ll see you on September 9th.

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Looking back at 2055

2015-16 was UNIT/PITT’s 40th anniversary. At various points in its history, it seemed unlikely that the Pitt would survive to see its 40th year. (And if you want to know more about all of that, Allison Collins wrote a great recap of our history back in 2012.) Since we had already looked back at the Pitt’s history, we decided to do something different, and start with the premise that we weren’t marking an end-point of 40 years, but a mid-point on the way to the Pitt’s 80th year in 2055.

Exhibitions and programs for this year were put together by a temporary curatorial team: Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte, Kay Higgins, Abbey Hopkins, Brynn McNab, Catherine de Montreiul,  Gabriel Saloman, Jamie Ward, and Zebulon Zang. Artists who participated in exhibitions, panels, music nights, and talks included Elaine Carol, Elliot Heintzmann, Joël Doyle, Eli Zibin, Curtis AuCoin, Terry Hunter, Cecily Nicholson, Michael Clague, Andrea Creamer, Laiwan, Brady Cranfield, Rachel and Sarah Seburn, Pietro Sammarco, The Rita, Graeme Wahn, Monique Levesque, Cole Nowicki, Alison Braid, Alyssa Dusevic, Jordan Abel, bill bissett, Danielle LaFrance, Donato Mancini, sidony o’neal, Anahita Jamali Rad, The Third Thing, Alana Gerecke, Alexa Mardon, Jacquelyn Ross, Carolina Bergonzoni, Justine Chambers, Alex Mah, Lee Su-Feh, Evann Siebens, Hong Kong Exile, Deanna Peters, Justin Langlois, Penny Jo Buckner, Matt Hern, Mark DeLong, Dream the Combine, M. Rattray & Eloise, Skeena Reece, prOphecy sun, Irwin Oostindie, and possibly some others I’m missing right now. Contributors of material to the Limited Time Library project included Brit Bachman, Brick Press, Tommy Chain, Gabi Dao, Stefana Fratila, Steffanie Ling, Emma Metcalfe-Hurst, Lauren Lavery, Cole Nowicki, Jeff O’Brien, Penny Library, Lyndsay Pomerantz, Dan Pon, Jasmine Sacharuk, Ellis Sam, Graeme Wahn, Tom Whalen, and SP Yoon. We would also like to thank Bridgette Badowich, who was doing a co-op with us during much of this madness.

Our audience was bigger than ever before: counting web-based projects and Monique Levesque’s 6-week-long public art project, our audience was probably more than 20,000 people. But we also call something a success if a dozen people show up for a really productive discussion about the how artist-run communities relate to the other communities around us, which is what happened with the Art and Community Reading Group series.

After a bit of a break, we will be changing a few things for fall 2016 and beyond — the day the Pitt stops changing and gets predictable is the day we might as well find jobs selling real estate.


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