The $7 billion spectacle of the 2010 Winter Olympic games will attract a million or so visitors to Vancouver. Official hosts VANOC and the IOC want very much to shape the experiences of these vistors to fit the Olympic mould.
Alas, their efforts suggest a limited and limiting narrative: the silencing of all public criticism and dissent (the infamous “muzzle” clause in Cultural Olympiad performer contracts); a whitewashing of indigenous political and social realities; a faux social housing bureau to field questions from international reporters about homelessness; the ramped up merriment and festivities in the Downtown peninsula where Olympic revelry exhausts itself each night in a patriotic hurrah! of music and drink until 3 am.
Ahhhh, Vancouver, Canada’s very own happy land.
(See the video interview after the jump.)
There is, of course, the Vancouver that is already here with its very own histories and communities and artists and festivals and complex political realities. A Vancouver of public engagement, community organizing, democratic participation. A cityscape of cooperatively run small businesses, women’s shelters, safe injection sites, free food services, and needle exchanges. A Vancouver of aboriginal friendship centers, community radio stations, farmers markets, community gardens, lantern festivals, small theaters and media arts groups.
Using Google maps, a group of local artists have found a way to let visitors peek behind the IOC curtain and into the rich tapestry of cultural, political and creative pasts and present that is the Vancouver of the people who live here.
Althea Thauberger is one of a group of artists working at VIVO who put together the Vancouver [de]tour guide 2010, a fascinating use of Google maps to introduce all and sundry to the other Vancouver where people strive for community, speak their mind, resist abuses of authority and privilege and celebrate experiences other than the consumption. Join Althea as she guides us through the Vancouver [de]tour in this video.