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1972 Porcelain busts of Chairman Mao busts were filled with red acrylic paint and detonated onto the canvases to reflect the violence that occurred in Tiananmen Square in 1989

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Mao promised land, and he delivered. However, this was very unfortunate for the Landlords.

By 1958, Mao took back the land and collectives were created… leading to one of the worst self-induced famines ever recorded in history. Approximately 30 million citizens starved during The Great Leap Forward 1958-1961.

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The goal of the Red Guards was to destroy the 4 olds… habits, ideas, customs, and culture. This piece represents the crucifying of Old China (Jesus) in order to create or resurrect a new China. This image is mounted onto pages of the New Testament with images of Chairman Mao representing the new god.

Also note the family registry. Geneology records were an important tradition in China. Many of these were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution.

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The Canadian Doctor Norman Bethune worked for many years giving medical treatment to wounded red army soldiers.

 

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An original banner from the Cultural Revolution is cut and mounted onto panels of images of young soldiers in training.

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An image of a 12 year old child pulling a plow is transferred onto images of China under massive industrialization. All technology was paid for by food products sent to Russia.

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‘Chairman Mao’s Vision Radiates Brightly Forever’

This verse is a lyric taken from a revolutionary opera made out of white rabbit candies from the 1960s. During collectivization, many children raised in day cares would sometimes learn Chairman Mao’s name before they knew their own name. By the age of 4, children participated in revolutionary skits, enrolled in the Children’s Brigade at 6, the Youth Corps at 12, and by 15, the Red Guards. Compared to North America, children were far from being educated about political science.

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Priests would cover paintings with propaganda in order to disguise them so they wouldn’t be destroyed.

 

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MAN-UP against suicide exhibit

Man-up Against Suicide exhibit

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The MAN-UP against suicide exhibition tell stories based on photographs taken by participants willing to share their experiences with suicide…either directly with suicidal thoughts or by losing a male family member or friend to suicide. This exhibit has been created to stimulate conversation and help reduce the stigma surrounding depression.

OUTHOUSE

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He hung himself in an outhouse, this man of whom it was said lit up a room with his presence. Standing in memorial, this illuminated outhouse, filled with light, shines as a shrine to the spirit of Jessica’s lost friend.  His means of death, the rope, is subtly visible, diffused and faded. It serves to remind us of his decision in parting with this world, as does the structure of the outhouse itself, as his untimely tomb, flashing red lights as a warning. Yet both the outhouse and its rope are faded from prominence beside the light that sacralizes this structure as a shrine and suffuses its surroundings with its warm glow, radiating out and filling the room beyond.

 

ROPES

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This collection of suicide ropes are inverted, their normally downward-facing nooses are here upright, like heads perched atop starkly crude figures, haunting and ghostly, rising like cobra’s. They represent thus, not the dead, but the living. The emaciated living whose struggles sometimes lead into a fall; an interminable fall that culminates for some, in termination.
A rope wrapped with diamonds highlights the material and financial concerns which place pressures on people, some of whom may never emerge. It also asks the difficult question; is suicide selfish? Was the suicidal subject too self-absorbed, neglectful of their responsibilities towards the people with whom they shared their lives? Did they succumb to the glamour of the tragic?
A rope wrapped with Canadian flags raises issues concerning the systems in place for those suffering from mental health troubles and suicidal ideation. Is the healthcare system adequately dealing with these issues? How could it be better prepared to meet the needs of people at the end of their endurance?

 

A rope wrapped in chains alludes to the relations that bind people, relations of love and relations of entrapment, the invisible tethers that feed and tug on our heartstrings. For some the pain of love is too great a burden to bear.

A conjoined rope with both ends in loops asks the question of whether suicide is hereditary? Is this tendency to end ones life passed down from generation to generation? Are people born with a genetic predisposition to terminate themselves?

Another rope is pierced with safety pins; their sharp points deftly concealed in their catch mechanisms. How many safety pins some may apply to hold together the unravelling strands of their lives, trying desperately to keep it all together, fixing the weathering tears with care. For some there may be nothing left but the residue of these attempts; they have disappeared underneath their anti-depressant medication and psychotherapy, and lost themselves.

A rope studded with pin points facing outwards, indicates not only the physical pain of death by suicide, but indicates too, the more insidious, long-term psychological, emotional and spiritual pain which lead some to take their lives. The pinpoints facing outwards also indicate the radiating influence of this pain upon friends and family, as well as the defence mechanisms deterring those who reach out to help.

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BUNGEE CHORDS

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Every week Doug’s friend Ron would get paid and go on a drug binge. Every week Ron’s high would crash into a suicidal low. Doug thinks of his relationship to Ron as being on the end of a bungee cable, as Ron struggled back and forth with his desire for life. So actual bungee cables, aptly, were used to signify the back and forth of their shared experiences. Full life size images of them falling, are set on bungee cables, with safety belts that seem to say, “Strap up, for the ride!” These are set inside animal cages, which are reminiscent of happier times they shared together visiting pet stores. The cages also signify the risk of getting trapped by the constraints of our perspectives, and so Ron and Doug face opposite directions, signifying their different outlooks. For Doug, there is always a way out, and so his side of the cage has a doorway, an actual opening, a literal exit, whilst Ron’s side has none. Through Doug however, holding onto his end of the bungee chord, Ron has a chance to find a different perspective, and hopefully too, the way out.

NEEDLE REPOSITORY

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This artwork documents in a very visceral sense, the self-destructive journey deliberately undertaken by a man intent on punishing and destroying himself. Most people do not know that the back alleys of the downtown Eastside are equipped with needle repositories as a means to prevent needle sharing amongst drug addicts. Normally hidden, this particular needle repository is the centrepiece of the room, commanding our awareness of it. It is also raised above eye height, asking us to look up at it and not, as we would otherwise, look away from or down to it. Normally durable, this needle repository is made of glass. It is fragile, easily shattered and broken, which is analogous to the vulnerability that the people living in the downtown Eastside deal with on a daily basis, as well as the vulnerability experienced by all those opening up to conversations that are uncomfortable and upsetting to discuss. Normally opaque, this needle repository reveals its contents, which contain actual memorabilia from the lives of those living and shooting up in alleyways and doorways. Each syringe, shows us a mysterious world, and alludes to layers of people and places with stories and experiences, both human and horrific. The traces of life on the streets are amalgamated into a haphazard conglomerate of the vestiges of the discarded, and yet collected, categorized, contained, and protected remains.

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EVERY THING IS NOT GOING TO BE ALRIGHT

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This art piece was a knee jerk  reaction to a neon sign created by Martin Creed for the Rennie Collection at Wang Sang in Vancouver which said ‘everythingisgoingtobealright’. This blanket statement may be true when discussing minor life challenges, but when it comes to trauma and/or traumatic events, everythingisnotgoing to be alright.

This sign hung for 2 years until one day it mysteriously fell off the wall…thus completing the installation.

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Multimedia artist Foster Eastman in his gallery, where UBC's Man-up Against Suicide exhibit launched May 29, 2014.

Multimedia artist Foster Eastman in his gallery, where UBC’s Man-up Against Suicide exhibit launched May 29, 2014.

 

 

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