Launching our program of new artist residencies with Neighbourhood Time Exchange | Downtown Prince George, Rachel and Sarah Seburn are the inaugural artists-in-residence for the month of September. In the newly transformed downtown storefront at 1119 Third Avenue, Rachel and Sarah have been stretching their practice and exploring the impact their temporary relocation to Prince George has had on their artmaking.
Originally trained as sculptors at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, the Seburn’s practice also bridges installation, performance, film and photography. One of their major recent works position the collaborative duo as founding CEOs of an ongoing spurious real estate platform, Temporary Investments. The platform explores renegade real estate practices, where modern protocols of buying land and developing urban space are practiced under the auspices of the individual citizen’s agency. The pair look to the existing practices of staking and claiming land in highly coded civic space, manipulating those models for use in areas of neglect, disrepair, or vacancy. The two draw heavily on the understanding of their position as European settlers, and the problematic speculation of any kind of land claim on unceded Indigenous territory. Temporary Investments indulges in all of the absurdities, contradictions and inconsistencies of development in British Columbia.
Temporary Investments’ recent expansion into Prince George has shifted the artist’s role from real estate agent to urban planner. In the days since their arrival, their work in the downtown has drawn their attention to the noticeable lack of any kind of residential space in the city’s core. Looking to reanimate this missing space, the duo will be spending the rest of the residency creating plans and models for the insertion of a new development in the area. Recognizing the existing architecture in the neighbourhood as predominantly short, flat, single story buildings, the artists plan to draft plans for an add-on to these buildings through an architecture that can be plopped right onto the existing flat roofed areas. This theoretical superstratum would play slightly with a “dogpile” experimentation in civic space. Nearer to the end of the month, the artists will be hosting an open house for these development plans as part of the concluding public event of their residency.
In addition to their burgeoning studio practice, Rachel and Sarah have been working closely on two important Community Projects. On September 25th, the artists will be taking part in the River’s Day festival, presented by the Water Gratitude Project, Recycling and Environmental Action Planning Society (REAPS), Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the Spruce City Wildlife Association. Rivers Day 2016 aims to bring together community members in appreciating local rivers and salmon in a variety of ways, forging connections through recreation, spirituality and stewardship. Rachel and Sarah will be developing a performative installation to contribute to the day’s programming, which will focus largely on the interaction of the current of the river with various sculptural materials. The surface tension of the water and the malleability of the installation will provide a living and responsive performance for those attending the festival.
The Downtown Prince George BIA has also invited Rachel and Sarah to contribute to My Downtown, a multifaceted initiative aimed at activating the downtown core. Downtown Prince George identified a need to animate some of the under-used, disenfranchised spaces in the city–a perfect alignment with Rachel and Sarah’s own research concerns. The artists will be working to beautify vacant space within the downtown core to create excitement around the potential for theses spaces in the near future.