There’s a bit of a firestorm for a developer curated art exhibition at the Fairmont Pacific Rim in Coal Harbour as reported by the CBC News. The ads have been in the newspaper for the exhibition as well as on Westbank’s website. What the developer thought was a well-meaning public exhibition of artists including Fred Herzog, Stan Douglas and Douglas Coupland has been called “art washing”. While many of these pieces are in the private collection of the developer, the name of the exhibition “Fight for Beauty” was to reference “these different artists and architects and musicians and craftsmen … who are all fighting to make these beautiful objects, and the struggle they go through, and hopefully imparting on people that these things are important,” said Michael Braun, Westbank’s marketing and sales director and one of the exhibition’s curators.”
Melody Ma who has led the effort for the review of the Beedie Development in Chinatown has a different view .”What we’re seeing here is a real estate company … co-opting the arts and culture to market luxury condos in neighbourhoods like Chinatown, which in fact at the end of the day economically and physically displace people and culture that’s already there,” Ma said.
Is a free exhibition of art really about selling condos? Ms. Ma notes that the use of “arts and culture as a facade or Trojan horse to go into neighbourhoods and claim it as revitalisation, when in fact it’s a profit-driven motive that results in displacement and gentrification of the residents in those neighbourhoods.”
The free exhibition “Fight for Beauty” will remain on display at the Fairmont Pacific until December 17.