Antonia Hirsch: Anthropometrics
Vancouver Public Library
November 2006 – February 2007
The visual economy of Vancouver streets includes both official and unofficial modes of public address. In transitional locations, such as hoardings that surround new construction or buildings slated for demotion, one often sees advertising posters. This ‘grey’ marketing practice occupies such contingent real estate on a temporary basis, using a strong visual impact and a sense of urgency to convey time sensitive content. Aside from their intended message, they remind us that the streets, the most public of spaces, are strongly contested sites in the negotiation of ownership, free speech and assembly. Cultural institutions such as the library share a similar interest in the principles of democracy and access to all forms of expression and information. A non-commercial space, it must assess the interests of a multitude of individuals and organizations when regulating its visual environment.
Into this arena, Antonia Hirsch has placed Anthropometrics, a series of six large format posters. Hundreds of copies are postered throughout the city, and twelve line the windows that lead to the main entrance of the library. They picture solitary figures posed in rather mysterious gestures. At first sight, they might easily be taken for some sort of clever (yet decidedly out of place) advertising campaign. Should a viewer investigate further, they will learn that Anthropometrics is an inventory of colloquial forms of measurement. These formulas are not scientific, yet have arisen through personal economic interactions such as the spontaneous commerce of street markets where an improvised index of the body’s geometry compensates for unfamiliar sizing or unlabelled goods. A scientific mode of notation -the inventory- has been applied to a system in which each body sets is own standard and is not accurate nor repeatable in the scientific sense. Neither purely commercial nor scientific, Anthropometrics make temporary claims on both the library and the street, reinforcing and contesting the democratic ideals associated with such public spaces.
Group Search was made possible through the invaluable contributions of The Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council, the Spirit of BC Arts Fund, the Vancouver Foundation, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and Generation Printing.
Call Numbers – The Library Recordings [Laiwan] Fifty-two Weeks of Transactions at the Lending Library [Kathy Slade] Lamp, After UNDP Human Development Index, With Knot [Mark Soo] Trappings [Marina Roy] Twelve Subjects [Jillian Pritchard + Dan Starling]