1977 Photo Narrative ~
Coming Soon . . . Another Cement Monster
Exhibited 2015, Eraser Street show, grunt gallery, Vancouver, Canada.
Coming Soon . . Another Cement Monster
A series of photographs taken over the four year period 1973 to 1977 along the 1900 block of Beach Avenue, Vancouver, Canada.
The tenants received eviction notices giving them six weeks to get out. The old wood frame houses thy lived in were to be demolished and replaced by a 20 story high-rise. The landlord, a large real estate company, neglected to forewarn the tenants about the planned development. The news came as a shock. Some of the tenants had lived there 15 years or more. Six weeks notice! An outrage!
The landlord’s development permit was to expire in ten weeks. Consequently, the landlord was unsympathetic to the plight of the tenants and unresponsive to their pleas for longer relocation time. In fact, the landlord’s only response was one of arrogance. The landlord harassed the tenants by sending in a noisy soil testing rig that was operated in their yards day after day. In the face of this treatment, the tenants banded together to fight back.
A protest demonstration was held outside the landlord’s office. At one point the demonstrators entered the building playing a tape recording of the noisy soil testing machinery. A representative of the company warned them they were trespassing and that the police would be summoned. The demonstrators left a “letter of demands” in the manager’s office. The manager was conveniently unavailable and one demonstrator remarked, “ He always seems to be there when we pay the rent.” The tenants’ demands were ~ 1) a seven month extension of the deadline for vacating ~ 2) maintenance of the premises during that time ~ 3) assistance in locating and moving into suitable housing in the same neighborhood ~ 4) no eviction or demolition until actually ready to build on the site ~ 5) a public meeting be held to make the development plans known to the people in the neighborhood.
When the tenants refused to comply with the eviction notices, the landlord initiated court action to get them out. Unfortunately for the landlord, the court ruled the original eviction notices invalid. The notices were improper in form and had not been delivered in the manner prescribed by law. This was a victory for the tenants. However, the landlord wasted no time in having the “proper forms” served in the “prescribed manner.”
The tenants next took their case to the City Council. Council recognized the tenants demands to be legitimate. Council decided to temporarily hold back a demolition permit sought by the landlord. Council also authorized an Alderman to act as a mediator in the negotiations between the tenants and the landlord.
As a result of the negotiations, the landlord ended up meeting most of the tenants demands. The Landlord agreed to provide free rent for four months and to maintain the houses in good condition until the established eviction day. Further, the tenants were given $300 each upon vacating the premises for the payment of moving costs and rent differential for a year. Nearly six months had passed between the first eviction notices and final vacating of the houses. The landlord’s attempts to pressure the tenants into quick eviction had only prolonged their final departure.
The old wood frame houses were demolished and placed by a 20 story concrete high-rise.
Selenium toned gelatin silver fiber base black and white photographs on Agfa Brovira paper dry mount collaged onto ten 16w x 20h inch rag boards. Pencil and black ink holographic text. Printed 1977.
©2017 Henri Robideau