Posts tagged: Berlin
I didn’t even know Zach was in town, but so he was and I ask him if he wants to come to an art talk at The Western Front. Zach was staying at Gerome’s place, a guy I knew in junior high and hadn’t seen or thought about except as Zach’s friend. Gerome had moved to Vancouver five years ago and was living just a few blocks away from the Front, but neither of them knew where I meant so we meet at Foundation beforehand. Whoever gets there first should order nachos.
I haven’t had nachos in quite a while since I regularly ate them with Ted and KO. Nutting and Julianna. It’s been a long time. I order nachos, and I have to resist feeling sentimental about it. I think about these people often as I’m walking down the street, but I am glad we don’t live in the same city anymore. Any sense of bittersweet nostalgia vanishes when Zach arrives with five others. To my surprise and mild horror, everyone is connected from yesteryears in Edmonton.
What are you doing here? is a valid enough question. But I couldn’t bare to ask it and I certainly didn’t want to answer it. Strangers would have at least posed the “… and what do you do?” affectation that is only harmful in its unoriginality. The addition of here implies a sense of territory, one that is geographical as much as it is social. There are a lot of Edmontonians in Vancouver. Calgary. Toronto. Anywhere really. There are clusters of Edmontonians across Canada, just as there are clusters of Canadians across Europe. But I don’t want to hang out with Canadians in Berlin just because we come from the same country just as I don’t want to hang out with Edmontonians in Vancouver because we come from the same city.
This much I got from Lise Nellemann’s talk at the Front that night. Invited by Instant Coffee for their parachute marathon of events and lectures, Nellman is the primary organizer behind Sparwasser HQ, an organization that had a heavy rotation of residencies between 2000 - 2008. Nellemann’s presentation of IC at Sparwasser HQ gave the impression that it was a good place for newcomers to Berlin’s international art scene to meet people, especially ex-pats who congregate during fellow ex-pat exhibitions and events. But Nellemann herself has a post-nation attitude, which I wish she had gone into more. I have come from Edmonton and I am from Hong Kong. I don’t feel aligned with either of those places, but the inquisition of place continues to haunt me.
Vancouver has proved to be a city (and art scene) that sees itself as an international centre rather than a Canadian one, but while the city is increasingly feeling and looking more Asian, cultural references are still dominated by European dialogues. It’s as if there is a denial of local internationalism for a more nostalgic sense of the term. I am not alone in thinking this. A wayward comment from the stands that evening mused aloud professing Vancouver as a city sitting at the edge of the world before slowly adding that it was also a gateway into a new other world.
The new infers an old, but no one is consciously saying so yet.