Sessional Office at Mónica Reyes Gallery
Non-Regular lives on, in a dual exhibition with activist-artist Pia Massie.
Mattering Map Redux & Sessional Office
February 7-23, 2019
Opening reception: Thursday, February 7, 6-8pm
Artists talk: Saturday, February 23, 2pm
Mónica Reyes Gallery
602 E Hastings, Vancouver BC
Mónica Reyes Gallery is pleased to present a dual exhibition by artist-educator, activist and filmmaker Pia Massie and interdisciplinary artist Terra Poirier. This exhibition is the first opportunity for these two artists to collaborate and the first time they are showing at Mónica Reyes Gallery (previously known as Back Gallery Project). Opening reception Thursday, February 7 from 6-8 PM.
In 1995 and 1996, Pia Massie worked with Mount Pleasant diners, interviewing the people who owned, cooked and ate in them. This collaboration with her neighbours on the documentation of their workspaces and their lives became The Mattering Map Project, an installation at the grunt gallery.
At the request of Mónica Reyes Gallery, Massie has returned to these locations 23 years later and documented what they have become. Coffee has been replaced by craft beer; restaurants have become condos; the community and the commons are under enormous pressure. Like a hungry ghost, the process of gentrification has swallowed neighbourhoods whole, leaving communities fragmented and marginalized.
In this exhibition, Massie and Poirier ask: What do diners and art schools have in common? What do short order cooks and sessional faculty share? What is the public, interactive space for creative communities? How do we hold on to these spaces and the relationships that matter?
In 2018, artist Terra Poirier undertook, in collaboration with sessional faculty and students, Non-Regular, a book about precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (ECU). Their conversations captured how neoliberal employment practices devalue teaching service and creative work, while eroding academic freedoms. Blocks away from the Mattering Map Project’s former diners, at ECU’s brand new campus, senior administration staff enjoy spacious offices and meeting rooms while more than 80 underpaid sessional instructors share a single, classroom-sized office. Here, too, space is distributed according to capital and power: lecture halls have been named after real estate developers while sessional faculty must fit their work into cardboard banker’s boxes packed onto cubicle shelving. Poirier’s photo-text installation, Sessional Office, sets the words of sessional faculty against the tiny work spaces afforded them.
Massie’s and Poirier’s projects point to a city where culture is a commodity, as are those who produce it. Artists seeking work/live spaces often function as the first wave of the gentrification of poorer neighbourhoods. Creative workers’ “success” in repurposing industrial and abandoned spaces too often contributes to the precarity of these communities and the displacement of their residents. And now, like the short order cooks and day labourer clientele of the former diners, precariously employed artists, too, struggle to find a place in this city that promised to create a “future with culture at its centre.”1
Terra Poirier is an interdisciplinary artist interested in work, (in)visibility and erasure, all of which inform her long exposure photography, her autobiographical book works, and her social practice projects in a variety of media. She is the editor and designer of the artist book Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, published by UNIT/PITT Projects and made in collaboration with 26 instructors and artists speaking candidly about the conditions of their work. She has a BFA in Photography from ECUAD (2018, awarded the Governor General’s Academic Medal), and received the Saralee James Memorial Award in recognition of her activist art work. In 2017 she was shortlisted for the Lind Prize for Emerging Visual Artists. Terra is also a former video instructor and filmmaker whose films have been exhibited locally and internationally including at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Kansai Queer Film Festival in Kyoto, Paris Lesbian & Feminist Film Festival and the Lesben Film Festival in Berlin.
Pia Massie received an undergraduate double degree from Harvard University in Visual and Environmental Studies and East Asian Studies and an MFA in sculpture from Rhode Island School of Design. She is a multi-media artist whose work has been exhibited in festivals, museums and galleries throughout North America and Europe, including The Museum of Modern Art, and the John Good gallery in NYC; The List Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Musée Cantonal des Beaux Arts, in Lausanne; and the grunt gallery in Vancouver, BC. In 2017-2018, she served as the Artist / Designer / Scholar in Residence, in the Faculty of Culture + Community, at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her work has received Canada Council, BC Arts Council, and National Film Board support along with awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, Saint Gervais Geneve, and the American Film Institute. She recently completed a sculptural commission for VINES festival, called Bower and Fountain. She has participated in residencies at Banff (Telling Stories, Telling Tales), Boreal Art Nature (Forêt Frontière) and in Geneva, Switzerland and Kyoto, Japan. She has worked as an environmental activist, following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, since an early age. After growing up in Brooklyn, NY, she is very grateful to be able to live and work in Vancouver on the unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.
1. City of Vancouver, https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/culture-plan-2008-2018.aspx.