ALAN HOFFMAN: BOYS AND GIRLS WELCOME!
EXHIBITION POSTER, 2000
Written Contributions by:
- James Baker
- Neil Besner
- Lorna Brown
- Derek Fairbridge
- Adreinne Lai
- Henry Lehmann
- Jonathan Middleton
- Kathleen Ritter
- Sharon Romero
- Adam Lewis Schroeder
- Sam Shem
- Reid Shier
- John Wertschek
Poster details available on the Alan Hoffman Photon-Publication
Or read the stories!
Alas: the straight cold bleak flat taut lines: the arrow pointing down the street, the lamp like the only hope for a misplaced character, swoon-necked, out of E.T., gawking, craning, the one curve in all that humourless straight angled bleakitude. That pitiless blue sky, friends – yes, friends – bleakblue too – and RIDGE, atop that angled jutting squarejawed white shadowless bldg; and, friends, yeah, you know, WE know, what passes inside that forbidding, cold exterior: the genre of the day, FILM!, with every digital promise of depth, of REAL LIFE, sensurroundsound (do you remember, friend, that Rollercoaster was one of the first films to use sensurroundsound?) RIDGE – like a square-jawed Marine determined to jutjaw through his mission. RIDGE, RIDGE, do you hear me (friend). Sigh.
Neil Besner is the chair of the Department of English and Theater at the University of Winnipeg, and an all-round good egg. He has not yet met Alan Hoffman.
What we get in Alan Hoffman’s series menacingly titled “Terminus” is somewhere between the set for a David Lynch movie and Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood. In one of Hoffman’s astigmatic images a red brick engulfed in garish green seems to go in and out of focus, alternately evoking nostalgia and dread.
The Gazette, Montreal
Saturday September 18, 1999
Toys. Or scale models. Powerful sites of fantasy in any case, and peculiar given the plans I had to turn this East Cordova building into an art gallery last year. A result of one of those “if I had a million dollars” daydreams, I was well into the first year of exhibitions and was on the phone in a renovated top floor office when I remembered actually being inside sometime in the ’80s. There was an after-hours club on the top floor, and at the time I hadn’t a fucking clue where my friends had just taken me. It was the kind of place I’d never imagined finding, let alone getting into.
Reid Shier is the Curator/Director at the Or Gallery and writes about the visual arts for Vancouver Magazine. He has only just recently met Alan Hoffman.
Boys & Girls Welcome
I drive by this deadpan structure routinely. It is reminiscent of the default structures of prairie towns, used to store the snowplows and pesticide barrels. So there is a certain nostalgia evoked for a noisy, toxic sense of community. It sits dumpily on its lot, an abberation to the code upheld on either side by the 7-11 to the west and the postwar bungalow to the east. The siding has been resolutely repainted with volunteer labour. It is resigned to appeal only to the converted and they park in back. In front flows an open major artery. First Avenue.
Parents are paranoid. The friendly handlettered Boys and Girls Welcome is sinister. Non-secular things occur here. Parents drag their boys and girls to enriching activities, fully endorsed and professionally facilitated, as if their kids were some highly skittish and delicately tempered breed of show-dog. Children, or rather, pre-teens know where they are welcome. They are adherents to a different set of rituals. They are driven to the 7-11. No way will they walk.
Lorna Brown is an artist and the Director/Curator at Artspeak Gallery. She has known Alan Hoffman for three years.
…but I managed to convince him that I was a doctoral student writing a thesis on ‘The Apprehension of Scale in Gulliver’s Travels, with a special reference to Lilliput’, and that the operators of the model village had leased the house to me so that I could gain first hand experience of Gulliver’s state of mind.
–Will Self, Scale
Alan Hoffman’s photographs play on a literacy we’ve developed from watching too many science fiction films, requiring an almost reverse-suspension-of-disbelief. Our inability to convince ourselves the subjects are ‘real’ is a rather nice corruption of the objective photo-document. And who can escape the irony of an Oldenburg-sized bowling pin reduced down to a train-set accessory, and then printed larger-than-(apparent)-life?
Jonathan Middleton is an artist and curator at the Western Front Gallery. He has known Alan Hoffman for six years.
A photograph’s punctum is that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida
Alan Hoffman investigates the construction of private interior space through the depiction of public space. In photographing these half-heroic, half-pathetic structures, Hoffman elicits a contrived-yet-touching collective nostalgia. Peach recalls the melancholy of the amuse-ment park in winter. Its absences are keenly felt: the delirious shrieking children; the posturing adolescents; the sweet/salty sea smells; youth unfolding vertiginously. This effect is no mere accident. Deliberate manipulation of photographic perspective produces a strip of clear focus that slices across the cloudy image surface like the lightning shock of Barthes’ punctum. With their clarity and haze, Alan Hoffman’s orchestrated images operate like memory, poignantly evoking a past that is at once innocent and menacing, bitter and sweet, and real and imaginary.
Adrienne Lai is an artist and writer, and has been referred to as a “whip-smart hot mama”. She has known Alan Hoffman for five years.
Suspension of the secret in abandoned rooms
Passing of secret unknown to those who part
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha
It is where memory resides
Silent and corporeal
You have arrived...
Sam Shem is a multi-disciplinary artist living in Vancouver. He has known Alan Hoffman for three years.
El Rancho is not a ranch. El Rancho, painted in script and on an angle, says “similar to a ranch, not exactly Mexican” and is further nullified by its subtitle Motor Hotel. The shadow cut icon of a cowboy on a rearing horse decorating the salmon-coloured facade gives away the sham. Placed without irony in the front flower bed are plastic objects, signifiers of friendliness, middle class and “vacation”: a white picket fence, no taller than the blooming impatients, a swan and a cactus. Objects this bad can only be outdone if made of a more precious material (i.e. gold), hand-crafted or a “collectable”. Photographed here to look like a model (as if one would be created of such a building, a maquette of bad taste), El Rancho becomes a symbol of the horrors of small town life. On the front parking divider is painted the lonely title “visitor”. As if to say that you should not stay here long. There is no home team.
Kathleen Ritter is an artist and assistant at Artspeak Gallery. She prefers the title “Queen Ass”. She has known Alan Hoffman for five years.
Irony is the dross caused by entropy. The existence of this house in reality is dependent on the ironies created by our dependence on intellectualization. The existence of this photograph is dependent on the ironies of naming. Hoffman could have been a man or groom of the court, the yard, the farm. Except for that extra “f”. It made him a hopeful man instead.
In a wonderful short story, G.K. Chesterton wrote of a man who had a dream of a white house. To search for this house, he leaves his home and wanders the globe until, one day as an old man, he comes upon the house of his hopes: home. Home, the precipitation of our hopes and dreams.
Hoffman gives us a glimpse into (his) our own search for hopefulness and home.
John Wertschek is a faculty member in the School of Foundation and Critical Studies at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. He has known The Hoffman for six years.
So, it’s about this wide [holding hands approx. 2 normal-to-large-sized dinner plates apart horizontally], and maybe this tall [holding hands approx. 3 normal-to-large-sized dinner plates apart vertically], and it’s mostly grey, more of a bluey grey, kind of overcast, right, with a dark grey blurry building pretty much centered in the picture, although there’s some white brick on the other side, with an old hose coming out of the wall and trailing off to the side right about there, and a black tree over in the back there, and in the windows on the second floor you can just see a reflection of dark clouds, with a space where an air conditioner probably was, and in the windows on the first you can see a reflection of the other side of the street, with some mountains and trees behind it, and there’s a slight reflection of what kinda looks like a person, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Alan.
James Baker has known Alan Hoffman for six years, and lived with him for one.
People cut through the Larsen Brothers lot on their way from Front Street to the streets in behind, Vancouver Avenue, Westminster Avenue, Van Horne, the Larsen brothers keep their lot so clean people think it’s a street and drive straight through, at highway speed, the brothers keep their lot clean and run their business clean so when one or both of the Larsen brothers pass away they’ll say about him or them he ran his business clean, those brothers, or my brother, kept that lot clean and highway-wide. Would that it had kept one or both of us alive.
Adam Lewis Schroeder
Adam Lewis Schroeder is a writer of fiction. He has known Alan Hoffman for six years.
Church, Eckhardt Ave.
earth removed by math
and roof raised up by number:
this hollowed space makes room
for measured prayer
and rational devotion.
you wrestle with the thought
of God 3-personed
while you count stained windows:
no single row is more than 4
though 2 x 3 x that
sums up the total.
nave yields to chancel at the golden mean;
1 spire in 3 facets rhymes the trinity:
what looks like the soul’s motel
in fact encodes, in wall and roof and window
divine equations, like the one
that gives the sum of infinite variation
as the number 1,
and definitely not 7.
Sharon Romero is a designer, writer, educator, and thespian; she has known Alan Hoffman for four years.
Even cold grey asphalt can’t suppress
the heave and curve of orchard land.
Hummocks and dipping meadows
half flattened by machinery
force pavement into slanted grades,
sending shopping carts down inclines
to clatter against station wagons,
then to rest at the puckered drain.
Each year the crops grow, with slight variations –
gift stores, video rentals, a good place to buy boot-cut jeans.
Towering above it all, a tree full of signs,
its roots buried deep in the ground.
Derek Fairbridge is a writer and editor living in Vancouver. He has known Alan Hoffman since the day he was born.