Performance & Screenings

Every Bus Stop From my Place to the Racetrack
Neil Wedman

October 27, 1999

For a late 19th century urban flaneur like Edgar Degas, a trip to the racetrack must have presented certain social and aesthetic possibilities illuminating a progressive and excessive side of modernity. More than reenacting this derive as a site for artistic inspiration in the late 20th century, Neil Wedman’s enterprise, Every Bus Stop from My Place to the Racetrack, restages the journey as both a contemporary project for himself and a potential trip for the viewer. Made up of thirty-eight colour photographs mounted in sequence, Every Bus Stop… documents a road well traveled by Wedman whose leisurely habit of going to the racetrack has here been visualized in an enclosed site-specific system.


As a photographic narrative, this work brings into picture the repetitive and chance-ridden nature of everyday urban encounters. The general concept of this project is neither a new nor a novel idea. After all, the title points us directly back to Ed Ruscha’s 1966 artist book Every Building on the Sunset Strip. But, whereas Ruscha’s work was conceptualized against photojournalism and the hedonistic romanticism of “art photography,” Wedman re-examines the project with both historical hindsight and irony as his photographs become unavoidably linked to the aestheticized social predicaments staged by Vancouver’s own flaneur par excellence – Jeff Wall.


Whereas Wall’s elaborate tableaux attempt to “capture” movement through staging and technical mastery, Wedman’s casually produced “snapshots” risk the inclusion of uncontrolled quotidian encounters. This is a gamble that comes with being socially mobile on the bus – a bus that drives a spatial narrative through the different social environments of Vancouver. In Wedman’s photographic cartoon, the Or Gallery is not merely posited as a pit stop on this route, but as an “interruption,” allowing the gallery goer to contemplate their own movement.


Placed in dialectical flux, the gallery goer is en route between Wedman’s designated point of origin (his South Granville home) and his journey’s end (the racetrack). Within this indexical system, each individual bus stop has been photographed without judgment. Despite this apparent objectivity, Every Bus Stop… maintains a subjective posturing as it is Wedman who “chooses” to frame our view between his own place and preferred destination.


As an aim, the racetrack is odd. Like Playland, its PNE neighbour, this is a site gradually transformed into a ruin from an entropic industrial age. By making this his target, Wedman is not only nostalgic, but makes a decisive claim to his own subjective place in the social and economic environment that transforms our landscape. Unlike photographers such as Roy Arden or Thomas Struth, Wedman does not confront his subject straight on. Instead he repeatedly turns his attention to the route that takes him there: A route well traveled. Relying on both structure and chance (he commissioned the photographs), Every Bus Stop from My Place to the Racetrack weaves together an allegorical representation of Vancouver that allows the reader to playfully construct their own picture of both the racetrack and Wedman’s place.

Patrik Andersson (September 1997)