“The Price of Poker: Gambling on Solidarity”, a video installation by Chris Creighton-Kelly will open on January 23 at 8p.m. at the Unit/Pitt Gallery, 163 West Pender.
On July 7, 1983, the Social Credit government presented the citizens of British Columbia with a repressive legislative package. The response was strong and sustained. Tens of thousands took to the streets in protest. A resilient coalition of community groups, union locals, teachers, women, etc. was formed. Escalating strike action was planned. Solidarity union leaders insisted that when the strike began, all of the grievances would be put on the table, that indeed “the price of poker would go up”. Almost imperceptibly, this poker game was increasingly mediated by the Solidarity leaders, the press, and television. With the so-called Kelowna deal, the popular political movement dissipated, with the help of B.C. Fed’s withdrawal of Solidarity Times funds. A public political price was paid. But in all the rhetorical tallying up of wins and losses, there was an emotional, personal political cost as well. Many people felt a mixture of confusion, disappointment, and betrayal.
The news is old but the feelings remain. Using television images, audio, press clippings and a deck of cards, this installation lets some of these feelings out of the closet.
Chris Chreighton-Kelly is an artist working in video, studying the relationship of cultural practice into politics. He lives and teaches in Vancouver. The show runs through Saturday, February 4.