Althea Thauberger


Carrall Street







performative street event

30 September 2008

20:00 - 23:00

Carrall Street was a street event that took place on the block outside the commissioning gallery, Artspeak, on Sepember 30, 2008. The block was closed to vehicle traffic and illuminated by cinema lights. Approximately forty artists were invited to develop performances and interventions for the event, and working  across and through the delineation provided by the block, they extend their activities into alleys and bars. The performances ranged from repeated physical actions, oratories, orchestrated conversations, improvised interventions, and reflected or framed quotidian situations that often occurred at an intimate scale. As the event encompassed the entire block the work took on an expanded subject matter that included the attitudes and activities of spectators and passersby, heightened aesthetics and conditions of representation, the street’s built fabric and architecture, and the forces behind the particular transitional moment in the street’s development.

Carrall Street is the oldest street in Vancouver. It can be argued that the entire history (and pre-history) of the city can be mapped along it. Prior to the founding of the city the area was a Coast Salish village (“Luk’luk’i”) and portage corridor between the waterways that are now named Burrard Inlet and False Creek. The first building in the new settler city (then called Granville) was built on this block. Read about the contested histories of this area here and here.

Caught between aggressive gentrification and extreme decay, the 200 block of Carrall Street divides the most touristic part of the city from what is described as the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. Activity on the street is varied: hundreds of homeless people live in this area and hundreds of tourists pass through it each day. The area is home to social service organizations and community advocates, boutique businesses and new condominiums, entertainment industries and arts organizations. Like many inner cities, it has been hugely affected by public policy neglect and polarized politics. Read about the neighbourhood in this article that was published during the production time of the project.

The streets in the area are frequently used by film production companies to represent decayed urban centres, and the film industry is often criticized as exploitative by community groups. The area has been of particular interest to artists and researchers who are often regarded as interlopers by long term residents and activists.

At the time of the project, a civic “revitalization” project was transforming the corridor. “The Carrall Street Greenway” saw the street being torn up and prettified with cobblestone and new fixtures. In late September, the construction of this project was affecting the 300 block and about to move to the 200 block. See the City of Vancouver’s explanation of the Carrall Street Greenway here.

Since 2008, and with the development boom in the neighbourhood associated with the 2010 Olympics, the block has been drastically transformed. Several buildings have been redeveloped and renovated, and the non-upscale businesses have largely closed, making way for designer shops and restaurants.

Production Stills by Jay Black, Sharon Burns and Henri Robideau.

Hamza Adam, Sean Allan, Catherine Anderson, Dana Ayotte, Michael Barnholden, Debbie Blair, Jay Black, Trevor Boddy, Lorna Brown, Sharon Burns, Larry Campbell, Carver (David Turchinsky), Yvon Chartrand, Kim Collier, David Cunningham, Libby Davies, Lu Davika, Jan Derbyshire, Nathan Edelson, Sean Ennis, Kendra Faconi, Audrey Farbatuk, Charlie Gallant, Alana Gereke, Melanie Kuxdorf, Robyn Livingstone, Muriel Marjorie, Misha Martinot, Ed McCurdy, Jennifer Mcleish-Lewis, Archer Pechawis, Natalie Purschwitz, Skeena Reece, Mike Richter, Kacey Rohl, Lani Russwurm, Jon Lachlan Stewart, Pricillia Tait, Take Five, Gena Thompson, VANDU (The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users), Erin Wells, Tallulah Winkelman, Adrienne Wong, Kristal Yee. Jonathan Young

Order Carrall Street Publication.