New publications, fall 2018

Here’s a photo of our two most recent publications, in their habitat. WRONG WAVE 666 was produced in coordination with Wrong Wave No.6, held October 10-13, 2018. It was edited by the festival’s curator, KC Wei, and is a collage of materials, playlists, notes, writings and drawings contributed by the festival’s participants.

Terra Poirier’s Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University is an artist’s book bringing together contributions by 28 instructors and artists speaking candidly about the conditions of their labour.Precarious labour in the art university contributes to, and perpetuates, precarity in art, and enforces a destructive class system within the art world. Non-Regular has been receiving a lot of attention in the media lately, and we were happy to ship bulk orders of this book to unions and faculty associations across BC in time for Fair Employment Week and the commencement of collective bargaining.


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Introducing 8EAST

We’re happy to announce another phase of the Pitt’s 43-year existence. Starting today, we are working in partnership with New Orchestra Workshop Society to create and support a new social space for the production of culture, and for public access to new art, at 8 East Pender Street, until recently the location of Selectors’ Records.

UNIT/PITT has some history with this space. From 2011 to 2013, we were located in a tiny storefront just across the street; but over the past three years, many of the talks and performances we have presented were at Selectors’ Records, a shop which is greatly missed by many in the visual art and electronic music communities. In fact Selectors’ was more than a shop: it was a social space where artists came to discuss art, where visiting musicians could meet a public, and where new political, social, and aesthetic ideas could take hold. This is what an artist-run centre should aspire to be, and this recent history is very much what inspires us to take this step now.

We will be announcing our summer program of readings, community forums, and artist talks at 8EAST in the days to come. 8EAST will also be UNIT/PITT’s base for coordinating artists’ projects and public actions around the city.

Tonight (Tuesday, July 3rd at 8pm) there will be a reception to open the space featuring some  selections from UNIT/PITT’s image archives and performances of improvised music by some amazing musicians brought to us by NOW. We would be pleased to see you then, and in the days and months to come.


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An Announcement of Changes Coming at UNIT/PITT

UNIT/PITT Projects, one of Vancouver’s most enduring artist-run galleries, is announcing a major change in direction.

Founded by art students in 1975 as the Helen Pitt Gallery, the Pitt has provided crucial early-career support for hundreds of Vancouver artists, as well as presenting music, dance, and film. Since our re-launch in 2011 as UNIT/PITT Projects, the Pitt’s programme of exhibitions was augmented by adventurous programming that did not require the four walls of a conventional gallery, including broadcasting, public processions, publishing, street posters, lectures, screenings, festivals of art bands, and performance. Building on the success of our non-gallery programming, this spring UNIT/PITT will shift its focus to supporting and presenting innovative projects by new artists, directly reaching a wider public outside of the gallery system.

Kay Higgins, Executive Director: “We have presented a lot of excellent and memorable exhibitions over the past seven years, but many of our very best projects have been ones that didn’t actually need the inside of a gallery. We will continue our strong support of emerging and early-career artists by working closely with those artists to commission and present inventive, relevant, and rule-breaking projects that reach and engage with larger audiences than before.”

The UNIT/PITT Society for Art and Critical Awareness will be making further announcements about the specific artists we will be working with in the weeks and months to come. We thank everyone who has supported us in our most recent exhibition venue at 236 East Pender Street, including our joint venture partners in building operations, 221A Artist Run Centre.

UNIT/PITT Projects (formerly the Helen Pitt Gallery) is a non-profit artist-run centre dedicated to the promotion of experimental contemporary art that addresses social, political, cultural, and critical issues. The Pitt has been a starting point for the careers of hundreds of artists since we first opened our doors in 1975. We continue to present and foster emerging artists and emerging practices through our public programs and through internship, residency, and training programs.

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Latest development

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Karaoke Video Maker Free Store echoes: Population 101 by Glad Rags

(via Exclaim Magazine online)

Here’s something that showed up on our alerts: a video produced as part of Casey Wei’s Karaoke Video Maker Free Store residency last year is getting attention online. Here’s the finished video for “Population 101” by Glad Rags, directed by KC Wei, shot at her Karaoke Video Maker Free Store at UNIT/PITT , and recorded with Jesse Gander at Raincity Recorders in 2017.

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Final countdown for support

There are only hours left to make a donation and get a charitable receipt for the 2017 tax year!

Here are some of the things we did in 2017, with the help and support of our community. We hope you’ll consider helping us out now for a successful 2018!

  • We opened 2017 with Juan Cisneros’s epic wall drawings, done with crayons hand-made from wax and chili peppers, with an opening featuring a surprise performance by Los Dorados.
  • In April we hosted Casey Wei’s intensive video residency and Karaoke Video Maker Free Store, which brought songwriters, bands, visual artists and everyone else into the gallery. Stay tuned for a future screening of some of the results.
  • Jamey Braden’s SHE _____ THE _____ was more than an exhibition, with works appearing all around Vancouver as street posters during the late spring and early summer. There’s also an amazing book.
  • During the summer, we hosted the School of Collaboration and Invention. A group of youth (16-20) spent six weeks talking and working, resulting in a one-day exhibition and performance event titled IMMIGRATION/AF.
  • Gio Swaby’s We All Know Each Other opened in fall 2017. This series of stitched portraits became a focal point for discussions about racism and solidarity.
  • Matthew Shields’s ever-shifting sculpture Papa Was A Garbage Man will be on until January 13 once we are back from our holiday closure.
  • Through all of this, we hosted the Spectre of Fascism Free School (series I and II), a series of free talks by scholars and activists on the subject of the looming worldwide threat to freedom posed by the development of new authoritarian governments and repressive movements. We’re especially proud that our exhibitions and artists’ projects served as a backdrop for these discussions (and of the topical playlists developed by the Pitt’s Associate Director Jamie Ward). Thanks to the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University for bringing this series to us!

We did all of this and more with a budget that is tiny compared to many visual art institutions. In 2018 we’ll be moving more of our programming out of the gallery and into the streets, and moving our discussions beyond interesting ideas and into plans for action, and your support will help us bring new art and new ideas to even more people, and will make a difference to the early-career artists whose work is important for the future.

Your donation of $20 or $50 or $100 now makes a huge difference to us, to our artists, and to our audiences. And if you’re mostly broke (lots of the best people are!), please consider setting up a small monthly donation instead (you can cancel it at any time if it gets to be too much).

Thanks for your support!

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42 years

Donate Now Through!

We need your help to keep presenting new art and new ideas, both inside and outside the gallery. Please donate, or even better set up a monthly donation that you can afford.

For the past two years or so, our front door has featured the logo you see here: the U/P lettermark with the slogan “UNRULY CRITICALITY SINCE 1975”.

What the sign means is that the Pitt has always been looking for intelligent, critical ways to interpret and interact with the world around us, and we have done that in a way that is unpredictable, hard to control, sometimes messy and sometimes disagreeable. We’re not going to stop being that way, and we can do a lot more with the support of our community of artists, cultural workers, and people who care.

Please donate now. We know there are a lot of requests this time of year — many of them from organizations and cause that we support! — but your $20 or $50 or $100 will make a huge difference to us, and to the artists we work with, and to a growing audience that deserves access to new art and new ways of looking at the city around them. If you can’t afford that all at one, your $5 or $10 or $20 a month is even better, and it’s really easy to set up an automatic repeating donation (that you can cancel whenever you need to).

We have 42 years of this glorious, erratic, rebellious institution behind us. Please join us by showing your support now, and in the decades ahead.

Donate Now Through!

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Why We Need Your Support Now

236 from outsideDonate Now Through!

For over 40 years now, the Pitt has been an indispensable starting point for the careers of artists and curators in Vancouver, has supported new and radical forms and ideas, has gotten involved in local issues in a unique, incisive, and often irreverent way. We do this with a relatively small amount of support from the City of Vancouver, the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council, and with a lot of support from artists and cultural workers and other people in our community who believe in what we do.

This year, we need your help more than before. The costs of maintaining our space at 236 East Pender, and making it available for exhibitions, events, talks, and of course for affordable studios, have risen dramatically and it is making it difficult for us to function. And we know everyone in our city has been struck by the same increases, so it’s difficult to ask our friends to help when they have no money in their pockets. We appreciate every donation or new membership we get, but we know that a year-end $500 or $200 may be beyond the means of many of our core supporters.

So instead of making a one-time donation this December, please consider setting up a monthly donation through our CanadaHelps page. It’s easy, just choose “Donate Monthly” and enter your details — you can cancel at any time if you need to. If you can afford $20 or $10 or even just $5 a month, every bit helps!

Donate Now Through!


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Spectre of Fascism Free School Musical Playlists

The song ‘The Politics of Dancing”, was released in 1983 by the British group Re:Flex. Analysis of the lyrics suggests a blurring of media lines, where “deejays become the new politicians” but the popular understanding behind it’s rallying cry is more that dancing is true democracy, able to bridge social divides. With this phrase in mind, we set out to politicize our own dance for the lecture series, “The Spectre of Fascism”, presented by SFU’s Institute for the Humanities.

When originally discussed with Samir Gandesha, facilitator of the series, the idea was of a salon of sorts; a weekly series of lectures by invited guests, followed by hopefully lively discussion, and a dance party. Because ultimately, what better way to resist the weight of the world, right?

But it turned out a simple dance mix was a lost opportunity to truly investigate the importance of music for social movements. We decided to dig deeper and try to create a soundtrack that might help to frame these discussions, and give sound to the conditions specific to each topic. Plus, it was a great way to further research and prepare for each lecture. Many of the playlists are topical, while some are focused on region. Some of the artists are presented for the persecution they endured, not necessarily for the political message of their music.

This series will continue through November 2017; the archive below will be updated after each lecture. Each playlist is titled by it’s corresponding lecture title.

Below, is a link to all the current playlists.

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In July, a group of six artists between the ages of 16 and 20 started working together at the Pitt as part of the School of Collaboration and Invention (SOCAI). Through their discussions, they rapidly developed the concept for a one-day exhibition on the subject of immigration and migration, and we scheduled it for a weekend in August.

We didn’t know at the time that anti-immigrant and anti-refugee agitation would come to a head in such a dramatic way this summer. Obviously we could look around ourselves and see the massing of neo-nazi, white supremacist, anti-asian, and other despicable groups using lies about immigration as an issue to draw in gullible, angry followers. But at the time we scheduled IM/MIGRATION AF for Saturday, August 19, we didn’t foresee Charlottesville (just the week before), and anti-fascist groundswells in response to proposed racist rallies in several cities on the same day.

So this one-day show is effectively our response, deftly and intelligently composed by the participants of this summer’s SOCAI session, to the intolerance that is being promoted around us. Thanks to Jonathan Blessin, Lucas Chung, Sarah Kim, Tamsyn Kushner, Ashley Kusumoto, Wendel Vistan, and SOCAI organizer Lisa Novak. And congratulations to the many, many people who stood against hatred today.

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