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Vancouver
Aaron Peck
Red76 at Unit/Pitt
October 16, 2012

This past weekend, Institutions by Artists, a three-day conference, overtook Vancouver's art scene. Speakers ranged from AA Bronson and Tania Bruguera to Jaleh Mansoor and Slavs and Tartars, while artist-run centres and galleries exhibited work such as Danh Vo at Artspeak or Clair Fontaine at the Audain Gallery. One of the conference participants was Minneapolis-based Sam Gould of Red 76 who also mounted a project at Unit/Pitt Projects (formerly Helen Pitt Gallery). Red 76 is a collaborative project that produces a series of publications and event-based interventions, mostly organized by Gould. They are specifically interested in examining what it means to make something public: a book, according to Gould, is only as important as the table at which people discuss it. It is one of many different points in the act of publication or making something public.



Red76, Thumbs Up thumb drives

Red 76's work is not unlike a serial poem: it begins to take shape not only over time but also as the body of work develops. I have been following their work for almost ten years and (full disclosure) have been involved in previous projects. At the Unit/Pitt, Red 76 has created Thumbs Up, a "used MP3 store" and a pirate radio program, for the second iteration of its project This Is Not (An) A Front, which began in Pristina, Kosovo, as a pizza shop. For Thumbs Up, Red 76 has transformed the entranceway of Unit/Pitt into a small convenience store, much like any you would see in the Downtown Eastside. You can buy Dairy Milk bars, Trojans, Bic lighters, etc., but behind the newly built storefront wall is a small pirate radio station where you can buy - or barter for - thumb drives that are filled with M3Ps that have been broadcast from the station. Crazy? Yes. But also a canny conversation starter for how to discuss the way we relate to economic exchange and how that might relate to the construction - or, in this case, disclosure - of public space.


Unit/Pitt Projects: http://www.helenpittgallery.org/
Red76: This is (An) A Front continues until November 3.


Aaron Peck is the author of The Bewilderments of Bernard Willis and, in collaboration with artists Adam Harrison and Dominic Osterried, Letters to the Pacific. His recent art criticism has appeared, or is forthcoming, in artforum.com, 01 Magazine, Art Papers, Canadian Art, C Magazine and Fillip, as well as an article in La Fábrica's Spanish-language magazine Matador. He has also contributed to numerous exhibition catalogs and is Akimblog's Vancouver correspondent and can be followed @peck_aaron on Twitter.

 

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