In downtown Vancouver, everybody knows this intersection and the handful of blocks that surround it. It’s notorious to both residents and visitors to the city. For eight weeks, I lived on the Columbia Block to photograph my subject: the heart of Downtown East Side, a forgotten neighborhood nestled against the most visited area in the city.
For a few minutes each day, I wandered through Skid Row. I loved the landscapes along Hastings Street and its long horizon up to Main Street. Discretely, I photographed the spaces, especially the walls. Since the beginning of the 1980s businesses have shut down and social aid policies haven’t made a difference in the area’s urban fabric. I used expired ISO 200 film and clamped a wide angle lens to my Nikon FE.
I wanted to express the landscape’s depth through the long rows of windows, doors, broken windows, barbed wire, closed shops and graffiti. I wanted to show the fantasies of this microcosm in the crumbling, decaying buildings and their back alleys. I wanted distance from the subject and didn’t crop the photos of this open-air playground that makes its inhabitants feel so trapped. The images are raw; the only composition consists of objects that are being used for purposes they were never meant to have.
Main and Hastings is a world unto itself made of broken steel, red marks and false illusions. People disappear there every day as the landscape crumbles around them. As one enters the neighborhood, the mass of humanity melts away. In this deformed space, we’re left without any point of reference. Pain and Wastings.
Serie curated by Fox Irving @ If This is Art / Brighton – 2012
Serie published in “This is East Van 2”, 2012 and photoshow @ Urban Gallery in Vancouver, BC.