221A is a non-profit organization, working with artists and designers to research and develop social, cultural and ecological infrastructures. It envisions a pluralistic society in which all people have the means to access and make culture. Beginning as a student-led initiative in 2005, 221A was initially informed by an opposition to the division between contemporary art and design. Leaving the university grounds in 2008 to establish its first public exhibition space, the organization would be shaped by the history and upheavals of its new home in Chinatown, an embattled neighbourhood and microcosm of a global economic recession, defining the transformation of Vancouver before and after the 2010 Winter Olympics.
About the image: ‘Semi-Public’ is a public art site conceived by Ken Lum and commissioned and operated by 221A. Located at 271 Union Street at a 3,000 square-foot outdoor site, the public is invited to visit commissioned installations and processes by contemporary artists. Semi-Public’s programming is informed by the contested spatial politics of its location on traditional ancestral and Unceded Territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, in the neighbourhood of Chinatown, adjacent to what was the largest civic concentration of African-Canadians families and businesses before their displacement for the realisation of a major automobile corridor in the 1970s, and within one of the most speculative and expensive real estate markets in the world. 221a.ca