Obviously the biggest thing that happened this year was our move to a new building, with a 15-year lease, a much bigger exhibition space, and indoor plumbing. That’s a huge leap, one that will provide a stable base for more ambitious work. But we also had a full year of varied, awesome, and surprising exhibitions, performances, and publications. Here’s some of what happened.
The very first event of the year was a publication launch for GRAY Publications. UNIT/PITT was pleased to provide support for the early work of this important new collective. The launch of their first issue also included performances and this installation by Soledad Munoz.
Exhibition programming in January opened with the first piece in the What Future series (with co-curator Cease Wyss), Before I’m Done by the PJS Collective (Paul Lang, John Walkus-Greene, and Skylar Stock). What Future was a series of commissioned works on the broad subject of “the future”, and Before I’m Done was a work about interdependency, honouring the past while using small gestures to build the future. It also featured the enigmatic appearance and disappearance of a spray-and-stencil work.
In February, Luminous Books started a residency at UNIT/PITT. Luminous is a London-based bookseller, but more than a bookshop it provides a curated selection of books, with careful attention given to the physicality of the books, so that each place Luminous Books sets up shop becomes an evolving installation. More recently, Luminous Books set up a bookstore at Central St. Martins in London.
A Perfect Day by Susanna Browne was the next project in the What Future series. The work itself was the transmission of a song into space. Using the facilities of a satellite communications company, the early-20th-century parlour song A Perfect Day was transmitted into space. We also broadcast the recording (sung without accompaniment by Susanna Browne) on UNIT/PITT Radio. The original transmission is now in interstellar space, and will go on until it becomes impossibly faint.
Kelly Roulette’s Traditional Road Warriors was also a What Future commission. The work consists of two paintings that are very stark expressions of courage and cultural fortitude. The colours created an odd sort of glow in the tiny space at 15 East Pender Street. In this work, the future is very much about generations, and the transmission of culture against the backdrop of an oppressive environment.
What Future concluded with Kevin Murphy’s proposal for an Atlantean Timepiece — a geological clock designed to show visitors in the far future how much time had elapsed since Vancouver’s waterfront was engulfed by rising ocean levels.
We launched two publications with What Future: Atlantean Timepiece, an artist’s book containing notes about geology, waterfront real estate, tides, crystals, and other things, with a centre section printed on transparent vellum, complete with a ribbon marker; and A Perfect Day, a visual representation of the transmission into space, complete with audio CD.
On May 1st — International Workers’ Day — we launched the eagerly-anticipated Rereading the Riot Act, Vancouver 2011, And On by Anakana Schofield and Jeremy Isao Speier. The book, an artists’ book which combines the historical research and contemporary “reading back to the city” that informed the Rereading the Riot Act project in 2011, went on to be recommended as a top Canadian art book.
May 2013 was the month that we wound down 15 East Pender, and started programming at the new space. The GRAY Publications collective returned with a series of installations, readings, and discussions under the title GRAY School (1) at the quirky, small, old space; almost simultaneously, we opened IOU as our first exhibition at 236 East Pender. IOU actually began much earlier in the year, when the works in the exhibition were packed into a crate and the crate was submerged in the ocean. At the opening, works of art freshly removed from the saltchuck made their appearance, complete with salt stains, barnacles, and mussels. IOU was part of a city-wide festival, Art Waste.
While building renovations continued in July and August, former Pitt intern Zebulon Zang built a custom setting for his curatorial project Whatever This Is It Won’t Last Long. This tiny post-apocalyptic convenience store both bedeviled and engaged our summer visitors.
September was the grand opening of 236 East Pender: new walls, lighting, and floors accompanied the opening of God Save The Queen; and our SWARM after-party featured DJ sets by Fiona Bowie, Jonathan Middleton, Cornelia Wyngaarden, Eli Bornowsky, Collin Feigle, and an unannounced appearance by Skookum Sound System.
In early October, UNIT/PITT Radio’s transmitter came back online with a selection of Audiobooks By Artists, our contribution to the Vancouver Art Book Fair. October was one of our busiest months, as we hosted a book launch by Lydia Kwa, the Spaces of Contestation project began with a talk by Geoff Mann at SFU Woodwards, and this year’s Wrong Wave festival of art rock took place at the Pitt, the Western Front, Pacific Cinematheque, and SFU Woodwards. Wrong Wave 2013: Revenge of the New Puritan started with a screening of Charles Atlas’s Hail the New Puritan, a film featuring music by The Fall, dance by Michael Clarke, and costumes by Leigh Bowery, and continued for three more nights of music, dance, and film.
Spaces of Contestation continued in November with a lecture by Jamie Peck. This project, curated by Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte, has started with a lecture series, but in 2014 will include public actions, performance, publications, and an exhibition. In November we also opened our last major project of 2013, Re: The Fox by Arnaud Desjardin. Arnaud’s curatorial project included the production of a bootleg version of the 1970s NYC-based art and theory magazine The Fox (we still have copies available, with gorgeous covers printed by Brick Press, who have a studio at 236 East Pender).
Thanks this year to a huge group of artists, curators, donors, interns, board members, and volunteers. Here’s a partial list: Tobin Gibson, Holly Goldsmith-Jones, Zebulon Zang, Sarah Wong, Cornelia Wyngaarden, Brian McBay, Jesse Gray, Charlie Satterlee, Fiona Bowie, Sydney Hart, Kalli Niedoba, Cease Wyss, Soledad Munoz, Paul Lang, John Walkus-Green, Skylar Stock, Susanna Browne, Louisa Bailey, Kelly Roulette, Robosun Holdings, Kevin Murphy, Anakana Schofield, Jeremy Isao Speier, Zoe Kreye, Catherine Grau, KT Kilgour, Willem Jan Smit, Brent Wadden, Aaron Carter, Antoni Wojtyra, Jay Yoon, Kate Noble, Sylvana D’Angelo, Mariane Bourcheix-Laporte, Steven Brekelmans, Colleen Heslin, Devon Knowles, Frieda-raye Green, Ben Raymer, Ian Robert Sandilands, Brad Allen, Scott Kemp, Gregory Ligen, Chris Bose, Bracken Hanuse Corlett, KAST, MaRvIN StRAnGE, Nigel Z, Am Johal, Lydia Kwa, Sydney Hermant, Elizabeth Fischer, Jonathan Wells, Mark Szabo, Geoff Mann, Jamie Peck, Arnaud Desjardin, Kathy Slade, Cate Rimmer, Jamie Ward, Kevin Rowe, Steffanie Ling, Kate Noble, Phil Chen, Brady Cranfield, Mitch Speed, Brynn McNab, Natalie Gitt, Mischa Shadloo, Jen Weih, Justine Chambers, Sebnem Ozpeta, Mariane Bos, New Moon Poncho, Yuriko Iga, Kensington Gore, White Poppy, Les Smolenski, Daniel Presnell, Lou and Katie Webster, Adam O. Thomas, Alex Mackenzie, Khan Lee, Wade Thomas, Derek Brunen, Patrik Andersson, Hank Bull, Barbara Cole, Lorna Brown, and many others whose names we’re sorry to have left out. We’re also grateful for the support of the Koerner Foundation, the Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver, the British Columbia Arts Council, and the Canada Council.
In the next few days, we’ll post a preview of Unit/Pitt’s 2014 schedule. You can be part of all of this: buy a membership, make a donation, buy some of our publications, subscribe to our mailing list, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.