From Bars to Brollies, Bright Lights

T&T: False Creek

At the Pendulum Gallery until March 3

by Robin Laurence, Feburary 25, 2010

Original Article | Download (PDF – 438KB)

When independent curator Patrik Andersson invited T&T to create a sustainability-themed exhibition for the Pendulum Gallery during the Winter Olympics, he made this request: “Think about what happens when the Olympic countdown clock goes below zero.” Tony Romano of Toronto and Tyler Brett of Bruno, Saskatchewan—who often make art together under the sobriquet T&T—responded with a cheery, postapocalyptic vision of Vancouver called False Creek. Specifically, their installation is a kind of after-the-gold-rush imagining of the area.

Located in the atrium of the HSBC Building at the corner of Georgia and Hornby streets, the Pendulum Gallery looks out at one of the gathering places for Winter Olympics crowds. The countdown clock, the teeming plaza, the floral-patterned north faí§ade of the Vancouver Art Gallery, sky-high ads from corporate sponsors pasted across neighbouring office towers—all contribute to a hectic and boosterish temporary environment.

Inside the Pendulum Gallery, the huge mobile sculpture by Alan Storey that gives it its name dominates the space. As Andersson pointed out in a recent interview with the Straight, the immensity of the atrium has a tendency to overwhelm the exhibitions it hosts. Not, however, this one. The show consists of three car-based assemblages, a panoramic print, and a designated area where children can colour T&T–produced drawings. Also part of T&T’s project are a children’s picture book and a handsome catalogue with a smart and insightful essay by Jordan Strom, both available on-site.

The freestanding sculptures, which sit on carpets of bright green AstroTurf, represent whimsical houseboats. They’re composed of old car bodies altered with building materials, bicycle parts, flags, planters, propellers, and brightly hued paint. Among their many references are the inequities of Vancouver’s real-estate boom, the construction of the Athletes’ Village, and the now-banished floating homes of former False Creek squatters. The allusion to displaced squatters serendipitously coincides with Ken Lum’s temporary sculpture from shangri-la to shangri-la, on display at the VAG’s Offsite space a couple of blocks west.

T&T’s installation also relates to their established brand of “carchitecture”—their future fictions in the form of computer drawings and sculptures in which abandoned cars are repurposed as structures in which people might live, work, and meet. As seen in the lively light-jet print that serves as a kind of illustrated guide to False Creek, the artists propose a postcar future for Vancouver in which, curiously, the waters of False Creek have not risen but have drained away, along with most of what we know of the area.

T&T’s postapocalyptic vision is not one of blasted nature inhabited by roving bands of thugs and cannibals. It is brightly coloured, optimistic, even utopian. Whether fishing, planting, dismantling Science World’s geodesic dome, working with various low-tech devices improvised from pedals and pulleys, or listening to minstrels, everyone in the community depicted gets along swimmingly. The sky is blue, the trees are green, and life is simple and harmonious. It’s a vision that, while deeply critical of our climate-altering ways, should appeal to both adults and children.