SWARM 18 Preview

Emily Valente
Paige Lecoeur
Amy Brereton

What’s better than two consecutive evenings of exhibition openings, performances and screenings in galleries across Vancouver? If this piques your interest, you’re in for a treat September 7-8 for SWARM 18, a free art festival organized and hosted by artist-run centres.

SWARM marks the launch of the fall programming season for many Vancouver artist-run centres. Differing from commercial art galleries or museums, artist-run centres (ARCs) are artist collectives or non-profit organizations that support innovative and new works from a variety of media. They have historically been an important agent of cultural creation and grassroots activism, and continue to be. Many ARCs in British Columbia are organized under the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC), and SWARM is an annual event that brings awareness to their alternative art spaces.

The Vancouver installment of SWARM will take place across the city, but mainly clustered in Chinatown, East Vancouver and Mount Pleasant. Discorder got the scoop on some specific programming:

Access Gallery (222 East Georgia Street) will be hosting an opening for Twenty-Three Days at Sea, Chapter 2: Michael Drebert, Lili Huston-Herterich, Rebecca Moss, Sikarnt Skoolisariyaporn on September 8. In partnership with the Burrard Arts Foundation and the Contemporary Art Gallery, Access has offered voyages aboard a cargo ship from Vancouver to Shanghai to a few emerging visual and performance artists. Lasting 23 days, these voyages serve as opportunities for the artists to reflect on the roles of major port cities in the Pacific Rim. The project challenges the role of artists as “witnesses,” as well as bringing visibility to transport systems and industry that society tends to overlook. It runs until October 28.

Gallery Gachet’s SWARM exhibition, The Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show, will be the last in their current location at 88 East Cordova before moving to another space. It is the 10th anniversary of this exhibition, which centres the work of artists working and living in the Downtown Eastside. The artists and members of the gallery will be in attendance during the opening reception on September 8 from 6-10PM. The show runs until October 22.

UNIT/PITT (236 East Pender Street) will be hosting an inaugural solo show for Giovanna Swaby, a Bahamian artist currently based in Vancouver. We All Know Each Other is a series of stitched portraits based around hair care. The press release states that the exhibition “celebrates the self-love and appreciation black women have worked fiercely to develop.” The exhibition lasts September 8-October 21.

grunt gallery (350 East 2nd Avenue) will be exhibiting Technical Problem, mixed media drawings by Vancouver-based artist Aileen Bahmanipour. Bahmanipour draws on epic tales and texts from her Iranian identity to explore themes related to politics and cultural expression. The press release describes Bahmanipour’s work as “both fantastical and meticulous,” informed by Persian miniature painting. Technical Problem opens September 7 and runs until October 14. There is a daytime artist talk at 2PM on September 9.

VIVO Media Arts Centre (2625 Kaslo Street) will be hosting an exhibit called Love And Rockets conceived by resident curator Darrick Chang. It will explore the outlets people indulge in when inhabiting tension, and relations of power that come with interpersonal relationships. Featuring works by Elizabeth Milton, Jennifer Remenchik, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay and Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, the exhibit seeks to explore “longing and everyday feelings that provide an outlet for tensions and power dynamics that exist within interpersonal relationships.” The title is also a casual shout-out to the ‘80s comic by the Hernandez brothers. It runs until September 21 with an opening reception September 7.

This is just a few of the galleries participating in SWARM 18, but there are a dozen more. Each space has curated thoughtful and thought-provoking work that speaks to the strength of their communities. As an annual event that celebrates artist spaces, SWARM is a consistent reminder that art has the capacity to influence the day-to-day. It is an event not to be missed.




Check out paarc.ca/swarm18 for more about SWARM 18. You can also grab a general information pamphlet on ARCs at any participating gallery. CiTR 101.9FM and Discorder Magazine will have a table at Access Gallery September 8 to promote our new PLOT partnership. Come visit!

Vancouver Latin American Film Festival

Ana Rivera
Karla Monterrosa

Putting on a gown made up of the finest films from Latin America, the VLAFF is celebrating its Quinceañera from August 24 to September 3. Just as a young woman celebrates her 15th birthday in Latin America, the VLAFF is seeking to show us the way in which it has matured and evolved into a diverse and well-composed cinematic experience.

The festival aims to spread Latin American culture from the various cinematographic discourses while promoting social interaction and stimulating cultural interchange. It also hopes to strengthen the bridges of collaboration, exchange and dialogue between the cinematographic industries of both regions.

Each year the festival picks a country to place focus on based on the support of embassies and consulate generals. This year Cuba was chosen as the main focus because “even though it is a relatively small country, it produces very significant high quality films” according to festival organizer Christian Sida-Venezuela. He and his team feel it is important to support these filmmakers, particularly from this country which doesn’t receive as much support as others to be featured in film festivals.

VLAFF || Illustration by Karla Monterrosa for Discorder Magazine
VLAFF || Illustration by Karla Monterrosa for Discorder Magazine

Over the span of the eleven-day film event, apart from Cuba, one will be able to indulge in films from nearly every country in Latin America.

The goal of the festival is to highlight the work of Latin American and Latino Canadian filmmakers who have produced their films in their country of origin or Canada, and are interested in sharing their experiences with Vancouver audiences. Without VLAFF, most of these films would not have had the opportunity to be shown in Canada. It also, and most importantly, aims to address socioeconomic issues of importance to Latin America, as well as promote the interaction of cinema lovers from both Latin America, Canada and beyond.

The event includes a competition for first time directors, which will include a series of panel discussions by youth jurors who will chose those films awarded by the festival.

One of this year’s highlights is the opening film El Ciudadano Ilustre (The illustrious citizen) by Argentinean director duo Gaston Duprat and Mariano Cohn, a satirical dark comedy that promises to be riveting and uncompromising in exploring a man’s struggle between his roots and his journey through fame.

VLAFF || Illustration by Karla Monterrosa for Discorder Magazine
VLAFF || Illustration by Karla Monterrosa for Discorder Magazine

As a visual tool of education the VLAFF provides a category titled ¡Activismo! (Activism). This section focuses on films that are profound, political and powerful: films that will initiate and inspire conversations on identity, family, community and nationhood.

Given the political climate of such a diverse part of the world, it is expected that this category will be an effective lens to focus on issues often overlooked or misinterpreted by the media abroad. Media in Latin America is often times censored and manipulated in ways that can misinterpret an event, often times diminishing its impact. In a similar way, media in Western society doesn’t fully report on the issues.

A great example of what this year’s VLAFF hopes to continue is the strength of a screening from last year: One day in Ayotzinapa 43, written and directed by Rafael Rangel, provided an insider’s view into a Mexican town in the midst of a wave of political violence. It showed audiences the resilient and true selves of all the citizens that lived there, and the ways in which they are fighting against their current circumstances.

When such events are documented and shown through the eyes of a Latin American filmmaker, this personal perspectives helps humanize the victims. It is a platform to educate and inform in a unique and impactful way that an outside filmmaker view may not be able to provide.

As the Latino community in Vancouver and Canada continues to grow, any avenue that provides a level of understanding of the diversity of culture in Latin America is of great importance to nurture tolerance and unity.


The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival has taken place annually since 2003. Make sure to check out their website for regular updates on screenings and events, and more festival information at vlaff.org.