by Ryan Nussbacher
Vancouver, I love you but… marks the end of the exhibition Object(ing): The Art/Design of Tobias Wong. The title is derived from Wong’s 2010 piece New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down, which is based on the LCD Soundsystem song of the same name. This event was made possible by the gracious support of the Wong Family (also in attendance) in honour of their late son, Tobias.
The beads represent the song’s lyrics as they would appear in Morse code. The lore around how this piece was created is even more interesting. Legend has it that Wong created this piece while sleepwalking.
A panel of local celebrities such as CBC’s Stephen Quinn, former mayor Sam Sullivan, author/provocateur Amber Dawn, and Watermelon of Wreck Beach fame were given yet another platform to air their opinions.
Walking in to this event one might expect a pity fest. And, well, it was. However, it was not without a point. Moderating the proceedings was performance artist Adrian Howells—or, to be more accurate, one of Adrian’s personas. Hailing from Glasgow, standing about 6’4”, and dressed in drag, Howells assumed the role of group therapist. It wasn’t until after the event that I could understand his motives and why he was chosen for this role. Howells would tell you that his work is themed around confessions. To paraphrase, he is trying to provide the world with catharsis, one person at a time, by being as intimate as possible.
Indeed, Howells gave each panelist and a few audience members a microphone and free reign to share their grievances with the room. And they did, covering topics ranging from the relevance of the Waldorf’s recent closing to proper etiquette for engaging with Wreck Beach nudists. Amidst laughter, jeers, and applause, Howell did his best to quell the storm. And finally, after the last ranters said their piece, we were guided into a meditation with the hope that all in attendance would learn to forgive the consequences of circumstance. There is a lesson to be gleaned here about maturity, poise, and strength. It’s hard to say if others were able to glimpse this as we were led out to the sound of Barbara Adler’s accordion. But the event organizers did make sure to give us something to take home that could serve as a token to ponder: the event name and hashtag #VaniLoveYouBut was, at the direction of Howells, changed to #VaniLoveYouBecause.
Now that we were primed to forgive and release, it was time for us to move away from negativity and look forward rather than dwell on the past. Perhaps this shift in perspective is worth a try.