Keg de Souza
Appetite for Construction
Burrard Marina Field House Studio Residency
September 10 – November 4, 2016
Off-site at 544 Main Street, Vancouver
We welcome back to Vancouver Australian artist Keg de Souza. On her final visit to the city, de Souza presents a public project exploring food culture as a metaphor for urban displacement. Throughout October, de Souza will operate from a temporary space in the former Park Lock Dim Sum/Seafood Restaurant on the second floor of 544 Main Street in Chinatown. From this location she will initiate a food mapping installation developed via a series of public events, workshops and discussions centered on this disused space, the last original building standing on the corner of Main and Keefer.
Participants are invited to contribute items that represent the changing urban fabric of the Chinatown/Downtown East Side area through its food culture. Each participant’s items will be vacuum bagged and used to create a tile in the construction of a temporary structure within the Chinatown space. The numerous vacuum bags will create a patchwork surface that represents various community members, and their insights into local food culture and gentrification. Items could range from: menus from new upmarket establishments; packaging from iconic restaurants of the area, soup kitchen fliers, info on urban farming or even something grown from an urban farm.
In Vancouver, De Souza is developing a series of community based workshops throughout 2015-16 engaging participants in a critical dialogue regarding local food production. De Souza is working closely with various local urban farmers, food security activists and community members to explore the food politics within the city as both evidence of and a metaphor for urban displacement through gentrification.
Over the past eighteen months de Souza has been conducting research in Vancouver, hosting a series of events experimenting with tactics of public engagement. In 2015, her handmade inflatable dome became a temporary space at the Burrard Marina Field House for a public picnic engaging Canadian colonial narratives via a consideration of national food traditions. Meeting with local chefs, food activists and residents de Souza prepared a truly Canadian feast as a source for an afternoon of unfolding dialogue that the artist mapped directly onto the floor of the dome. A starting point for the discussion was the ephemerality of the event itself. De Souza hosted a second event, an urban foraging expedition culminating in jam making, experimental mapping and a discussion exploring local foods, cultural preservation and the continuing effects of colonization in contemporary Vancouver. The event featured two local guest collaborators, Lori Snyder, an Indigenous Herbalist specializing in urban foraging for wild, edible and medicinal plants; and Lori’s partner, Steve Snyder, a master jam maker for the last 15 years. This two-day event began with a foraging tour led by Lori Snyder focusing on the native blackberry, the introduced blackberry and other native plants. Participants foraged on the banks surrounding the Field House which are covered with wild Himalayan Blackberries — an invasive, ‘colonizing,’ non-native species in Vancouver. On the second day, Steve Synder led a jam making session with the foraged berries. While communally making jam, de Souza led a discussion focused on the act of preserving these locally dominant berries, questioning whose culture is in fact preserved and how this can be linked to colonial narratives. This discussion culminated in an experimental mapping of the dialogue.
This project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. With special thanks to Left of Main.