Few examples of the works presented in this PULP archive have been preserved in the context of museum and gallery collections. Pulp materials are inherently unstable and consequently many of these works, over time, have literally vanished. The aesthetic and philosophical concerns, of the artists represented here, were closely tied to the exploration of process — “longevity” was not a high priority, neither was the sense that they might, over the long term, be collected by an institution.
It is no wonder, as part of the generation who grew up in the 1950s through the cold war and an ever-present threat of accidental or deliberate global nuclear annihilation, that this group of Westcoast Canadian artists should on coming of age in the 1960s begin to question the notion of permanence in art making. The deliberate choice, made by these artists to work with such prosaic and inherently unstable pulp materials, ultimately transforming them into ambitious often large-scale art projects, was a celebration of impermanence and a challenge to institutional expectations.
The pulp works represented here fall into a broad range of curatorial interests including: large-scale interactive installation; performance; public intervention; printed and published work; and 16mm film.
This on-line catalogue brings together photographic evidence and anecdotal documentation of mid-century Vancouver’s unique brand of pulp-related art. Serious, sometimes cheeky, the ideas and intentions of these art-works and of the artists who created them constitute a little-known but none-the-less seminal period in the art history of this place. Now after 50 years this lost chapter may once again begin to resonate on our cultural radar.
Finally, it may be their temporality which irrevocably links these works not only to each other and their time but also to the present — because now nearly half a century later even though the so called cold war ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, that compelling sense of uncertainty of our future on this planet continues to prevail.
Michael de Courcy, 2015
Matrix, by James Barber, an interactive installation / performance event, Intermedia Nights exhibition, The Vancouver Art Gallery, October 1968
Canadian Pacific (For the Great Bird P'eng), by Glen Lewis, Chromatic Steps exhibition, Vancouver Art Gallery, October 1968
Tunnel, by Bob Arnold, Interactive installation, Electrical Connection exhibition, Vancouver Art Gallery, April 1969
Room with Cutouts, by Michael de Courcy with Dennis Vance (interactive photographic environment with audio), Electrical Connection exhibition, Vancouver Art Gallery, April 1969
Untitled Box Works, by Bob Arnold, Series of short-term installations / interventions, various public locations, September- October 1969
Puzzled, by Michael de Courcy, Site -specific interactive installation, Racetrack Gallery (Vancouver Art Gallery satellite space at the Pacific National Exhibition, February 1970
Chainey, by Bob Arnold and Gary Lee-Nova, Site-specific interactive installation, Fine Arts Gallery, University of British Columbia, February 1970
Silk-screened Box Untitled, by Michael de Courcy, Site-specific installation / media intervention, Photography into Sculpture, MoMA, New York City, February 1970 / artscanada magazine, Issue #144-149, June 1970
Boxwork, by Bob Arnold and Gary Lee-Nova, Public Performance/intervention, 1972 4th Ave., July 1970
Closet, by Glenn Lewis with Michael de Courcy, Short-term interactive installation/intervention for documentation at various sites, July 1970
The Cube Root of Entropy, by Bob Arnold, Gary Lee-Nova, Dennis Vance, Site-specific installation, Rothman Gallery Sculpture Garden, Stratford, Ontario, August 1970
Box Portal, by Denis Vance, British Columbia Designer Show, Pacific National Exhibition. August 1970
B.C. Almanac(h) C-B, 15 artists (produced and designed by Jack Dale and Michael de Courcy) A book and an exhibition, B.C. Almanac(h) C-B, National Film Board Stills Gallery, Ottawa, November 1970
Junk Mail, by Ed Varney, Henry Rappaport, John Macdonald (35 contributors). Artist’s publishing project, boxed-set of printed cards, edition of 1000, September 1971
Box-A-Rama, by Gary Lee-nova, 16mm film, 3m10s (unfinished), 1971-1972
Photographic images copyright the Michael de Courcy Archive, 2015 unless otherwise noted