Please note that this exhibition is postponed until further notice to ensure the health and safety of our community and to flatten the curve of COVID-19.
A Room for the Pain is a photo series by documentary photographer and contemporary artist Jackie Dives. Created soon after the death of the artist’s father to drug overdose, the series is a personal testament to a public health emergency.
When Dives was informed of her father’s death, she visited the single-room occupancy hotel where he had been living. She was compelled to photograph the room, his body in the funeral home, and places and things that reminded her of him. Working with film, she documented her experience of the “strange and jarring circumstances of losing a parent to such a stigmatized death.” Dives used double exposure to compose each image, a technique that traces her “confused, layered, and fraught emotions,” as the photographs honour her father, mourn her loss, and commemorate their relationship.
Dives’s documentary photography has been published internationally for newspapers, magazines, and websites and exhibited in galleries in Vancouver. For A Room for the Pain, Dives seeks the space of an art gallery, emphasizing the detail and effect of each C-print and situating the series beyond journalism. As art, the series is immersed in the diaristic and vulnerable aspects of Dives’s practice, becoming autoethnographic: “for the first time I felt like I was photographing inward instead of outward.”
A Room for the Pain has particular meaning in the neighbourhood of Gallery Gachet, the Downtown Eastside, where those most directly affected by substance use are often the object of journalism and research rather than the narrating subjects. The exhibition offers space to reflect on the value of harm reduction in the context of Vancouver’s overdose crisis, conventions and ethics of documentary, as well as a photographic tradition including the work of Sally Mann, Jo Spence, and Nan Goldin, whom the artist cites as feminist inspiration.
Supported by a Tricera Printing Grant.