This is a collaboratively-created body of work that considers notions of privacy, permanence, and intimacy. Our exploration of the York Hotel’s rooms and the objects in the space draws on our shared concern with the use of objects and images to examine the various competing ‘truths’ of place and identity.
Rooming houses such as the York Hotel are liminal spaces that contain the history and artifacts of intersecting narratives. Neither completely public nor strictly private – the rooms, their inhabitants, the contents of the entire place – are subject to the transitory, changeable nature of human interactions particular to the clientele of such places and the risks to which they are exposed, through living in an economically marginal urban area.
For all the impermanence and change contained within those walls – or more likely because of/ in defiance of it – some of the longer-term tenants chose to personalize their rooms – to mark this small territory as theirs, as private, as ‘home.’ Unstained patches of wall where pictures were hung, stains on carpet, layers of paint on the wall: all are imprints of ongoing (or past) occupation. But so are children’s stickers on a bathroom mirror, a carefully chosen and scrupulously clean ornate shower curtain, a flowered bedspread, or a magazine clipping taped to the wall that shows a favorite cartoon super hero. These are remnants of personal stories and as such, they serve as markers of many (sometimes conflicting) desires: territory, intimacy, beauty, control, permanence, escape.
A Selection from this body of work was first exhibited at Latitude 53 in Edmonton AB, in July 2013. YORK has also been shown at MCPAG (Multicultural Centre Public Art Gallery) in Stony Plain AB from 10 August – 9 October 2015, and included previously unseen work from the series. YORK is at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna BC 11 March – 22 April 2016; this exhibition will include the first presentation of a video work entitled YORK fragments, which will be projected on the exterior of the Rotary Centre for the Arts in Kelowna.
Support for the initial period of creation for YORK was generously provided by the Edmonton Arts Council and the City of Edmonton .