Julia Aoki. 'Some wonder: Marketing nature and managing "deviance" in Vancouver.' Intersections 2009: Crisis - Critical Disruption of Communication and Cultural Flows, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON. March 20-22, 2009.
My paper uses Vancouver artist Mark Soo's 2006 gallery installation “is it any wonder (1600 Kelvin)” as an entrance to a critical examination of the dominant visual tropes of beauty and nature in a city affected by poverty, drug use, prostitution and unattended mental health issues. Soo's work juxtaposes a sunset image taken from Vancouver's wealthy West End and the monochromatic yellow lighting used in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) to discourage loitering and drug use.
The sunset image evokes visual cues of nature and health, which are everywhere in evidence in the West End, such as ocean, mountains, active residents on rollerblades and bicycles. However, drug use, poverty and prostitution in Vancouver's DTES fall outside the discursive norm set by visual tropes of natural beauty and active lifestyles. As a means to manage this crisis, the city employs tactics for controlling 'deviant' bodies, including, as referenced in Soo's installation, the use of monochromatic yellow lighting that prevents intravenous drug users from locating their veins. Through the analysis of Soo's work, I intend to extrapolate how the rational, discursive production of Vancouver as a destination-city includes the management of crises of 'deviance' through the surveillance and control of bodies.