Single Room Occupancy/SRO (Vancouver, Canada) is a tiny, 50-square-meter gallery-cum-publishing venture located in a seedy building on East Hastings Street (Vancouver's Skid Row). The fourth-floor walk-up looks nothing like a gallery. Pushing open the door, one finds oneself near the center of a small, crowded, smoke-filled kitchen where twenty-somethings trade verbal jousts. Doorless cabinets over the sink and stove are crammed with poster tubes and mailing boxes.
SRO is not for the shy or overly earnest. To see the group's work, one has to shatter the absorbing banter and announce oneself, after which you are likely to be greeted by startled laughter, offered cake, tea or beer, a cigarette, and a place at the table. For the next hour or so, if you can endure it, editions and multiples will be paraded before you, each accompanied by an improvised story that is part of an extensive game to break the monotony of the show-and-tell.
SRO is run by three artists whose pseudonyms pay tribute to the Vancouver-based Fluxus artist Anna Banana: Cavendish Banana, Burro Banana, and Manzana Banana. (Manzana is the short, plump one with freckles.) The editions are designed by the three and a handful of their unidentified artist friends.
The multiples are of the knick-knack variety. Many are humorous or absurd, such as a yellow pencil with erasers at both ends (an exact replication of a work by Toronto artist Adam David Brown), or a ceramic coaster printed with the words "I'm #2". A sticker showing a woman water-skiing is printed with the words "Sturtevants Watersports Department".
SRO also trades off of Vancouver's deep roots in Conceptual Photography, however, without the seriousness of purpose, academic rigor, or social investment of earlier generations. One piece on view is a photograph of a rave scene, to which has been added a plume of iridescent, cosmic bubbles. Another is a digital reproduction of a classic Lewis Baltz photograph, into which a zombie-like figure has been inserted.
From the exhibition: "Costume Jewelry that Scratches the Skin"