Or Gallery is a non-profit artist-run centre that was initiated as a project space by Vancouver artist Laiwan in April 1983 and was first located at 1729 Franklin Street. Through collaboration of a small group of artists that included Arni Haraldsson Petra Watson, Lori Hinton, Michelle Normoyle, and Ken Lum, the gallery was incorporated as the Or Gallery Society. With an artist-member board in place, the gallery invited artists to undertake the role of curator, blurring the line between such roles.
The gallery supports emerging, conceptual and experimental art practices by interspersing exhibitions of local, national, and international artists. Throughout its existence Or Gallery has produced early exhibitions, performances, offsite projects, and publications by some of the most recognized names in contemporary Canadian art: Dana Claxton, Stan Douglas, Geoffrey Farmer, Rodney Graham, Brian Jungen, Garry Neill Kennedy, Roy Kiyooka, Tim Lee, Myfanwy MacLeod, Luanne Martineau, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Marianne Nicholson, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. The gallery has also been responsible for bringing works and projects by notable international artists and curators to Vancouver, including Francis Alÿs, Martin Creed, Tacita Dean, Matthew Higgs, Barbara Kruger, Martha Rosler and Krzysztof Wodiczko.
In recent years, the Or Gallery has supported a diverse range of artists at critical points in the development of their practices with important exhibitions and projects. These artists include 2018 Sobey Award winner, Kapwani Kiwanga, who presented one of her first Canadian solo exhibitions at the Or Gallery in 2017. Additionally, artists Peter Morin, Stephanie Comilang and Deanna Bowen had their first exhibitions in Germany as part of Or Gallery’s offsite collaboration with Berlin’s SAVVY Contemporary, Whose Land Have I Lit on Now? Contemplations on the Notions of Hostipitality. Artistic collaborators Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman presented their first Canadian exhibition at the Or Gallery, and the gallery also supported the development and production of their filmwork 4 Waters – Deep Implicancy, which premiered at the 10th Berlin Biennale in 2018.
The Or Gallery has also published a number of artist books, editions and anthologies, and since 2010 has operated a small bookstore featuring local, small press and imported publications.
Or Gallery supports local and artistic communities through both professional and general-interest lectures, workshops and other outreach activities, which often include community-initiated programs. The gallery also works with both formal educational institutions and community-based organizations to support mentorships, internships.
The Or Gallery Society gratefully acknowledges the support of the Canada Council, the Province of BC through the BC Arts Council, the City of Vancouver, our members, donors, and volunteers. Or Gallery is a member of the Pacific Association of Artist Run Centres (PAARC). The Or Gallery operates principally in Vancouver, a city situated on the unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.
We would also like to thank our current and past interns – Sophie Busby, Claire Hasko-Young, Bee A. Park, Joomi Seo, Erica Shiozaki, and Yi Xin Tong for their research and and assistance in developing our extensive online archive.