Isabelle Hayeur, Fire with Fire
Isabelle writes: “It is striking that the history of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside began in destruction and disappearance. In 1886, soon after the city was incorporated, the Great Vancouver Fire swept down on the neighbourhood and razed almost all of it to the ground. The video installation Fire with Fire recalls this troubled period of Vancouver’s history. It also alludes to the neighbourhood’s present conditions by reminding us that many lives have been consumed there, worn down by years of homelessness, drug use, street prostitution, and violence.”
For context, the Downtown Eastside is Canada’s poorest urban neighbourhood and one with a high incidence of poverty, drug use, prostitution, crime, as well as a history of community activism. “Disappearance” above refers to the great number of sex trade workers who have disappeared from this area over the past decades. One activist group report, referred to on the news on Valentine’s day, states that 15 women have died of unnatural causes or disappeared between the period of Nov 14 2010 and Feb 14, 2011 alone.