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Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties

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  1. Tom Burrows, Skwat Doc (detail), 1981-82
    photocopy on board
    Collection of the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. Gift of the artist, 1999.

6th Annual Dean of Arts Prize for the Best Essay in Visual Literacy

Contested Spaces

Due: Friday, April 17, 2015 at 4 pm

$1,000 prize for the winning essay

Shiva Shahmir, 4th year Art History major, is this year's winner; congratulations, Shiva!

Every full-time undergraduate student at UBC is invited to participate in an essay contest that considers the relationship between form and contested space. The 6th Annual Essay Prize is occasioned by the exhibition Tom Burrows and related symposium Spatial Politics and the City. The Belkin poses the questions, you provide the answers.

Burrows’ work reflects on the connections between the spaces of political and artistic practice. His home and sculptural works on the Maplewood Mudflats, his documentation of squatting communities, and his ongoing production of abstract works share an attention to the ways socially meaningful forms emerge out of engagement with material processes.

We invite you to write an essay addressing some of the following questions: How have various communities shaped Vancouver’s public spaces? What kinds of artistic forms do widespread migration and conflict create and demand? What does it mean to build or create on land that does not belong to most of its dwellers? What possibilities do practices of dissent, such as Vancouver’s long history of squatting, generate for thinking about a city for which sovereignty and land title are contested? Your essay should articulate how the exhibition provides a lens for a (re)consideration of these issues.

Be sure to attend the March 27 symposium Spatial Politics and the City at the Liu Institute for Global Issues for a discussion of these issues by an international panel of speakers.

The Guidelines:

Essays must be no longer than 1,000 words in length and submitted to the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery no later than 4:00 pm on Friday, April 17, 2015. Submissions must be made with a separate page indicating: 1) full name, 2) student number, 3) email, 4) telephone.

Contestants must be full-time students registered in an undergraduate program at the University of British Columbia.

For more information contact: Shelly Rosenblum, tel: 604-827-3287,

For a tour of the Tom Burrows exhibition, contact: Naomi Sawada,
tel: 604-822-3640,

View Tom Burrows’ Artist Talk from January 10

For further information please contact: Jana Tyner at,
tel: (604) 822-1389, or fax: (604) 822-6689