Larissa Alexson, Untitled, n.d.

Povera Urbana: Photographs of the Forgotten Vancouver

June 7 – August 31, 2006
Teck Gallery

Participating artists: Larissa Alexson, Shahira Ismail, Lindsay Jorgensen, Jenny Louie, Nasra Mire, Sabiha Patel, Momina Saeed, Billie Jeanne Sinclair

The Povera Urbana exhibition is one of several outcomes from the experience that eight women aged sixteen to twenty have had in a leadership program called the GO GIRLS. The program was established through SFU FREDA (Feminist Research Education Development and Action) Research Centre, which undertakes research on violence against women and children.

The young women are not ‘professional’ photographers in any sense; they come from different backgrounds, interests, and life experiences, all of which have been brought to bear on the Povera Urbana project. These women may not know very much about 'Vancouver School' photo-conceptualism, yet they have, with uncanny accuracy, homed in on the same subjects that have played such a large role in the photographic work of artists as diverse as Jeff Wall, Roy Arden, Adam Harrison and Mike Grill.

In an earlier incarnation the show was to be titled Welcome to the 21st Century? Poverty through a Young Woman's Eyes– a title that tells us much about the shocking disappointment that teenagers experience when they discover the world that we, the adults, have prepared for them, while not necessarily preparing them for it. The participants’ purpose is simple: “We wanted to be given the space to expose what we see on a daily basis and how it impacts us”. Hence, racism, discrimination and patriarchy are some of the issues explored in this exhibition.

The GO GIRLS program tries to ensure that participants come away feeling empowered to create social change. By looking at their lives and their communities more critically, these young women hope to make Canada a more equitable society to grow up in, and ultimately, to live in.

This exhibition coincides with the World Urban Forum (WUF), taking place in Vancouver June 19 to 23. WUF will examine the impact of rapid urbanization on communities, cities, economies, and policies—all of which are themes or sub-texts of the images in this exhibition.

This project gratefully acknowledges support from Western Economic Diversification Canada and GO GIRLS in association with POWER Camp National/Filles d'Action. Thanks to Andrea Canales for coordinating the project and to the SFU FREDA Centre for its assistance.