Offsite: Sanaz Mazinani

July 25, 2020 - March 7, 2021

Installation view of Offsite: Sanaz Mazinani, exhibition at Vancouver Art Gallery Offsite from July 25, 2020 to March 7, 2021, Photo: Ian Lefebvre, Vancouver Art Gallery

Toronto-based artist Sanaz Mazinani creates a speculative garden comprised of native plants, sculptural water catchments and a series of glacier-like formations in All that Melts: notes from the future-past, the latest site-specific installation at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s public art space, Offsite.


In this new work, Mazinani imagines the city of Vancouver in the year 2080, a time in which the rise of global temperatures will have melted glaciers around the world, causing ocean levels to increase dramatically and forcing coastal cities to adapt. In this dystopic future, Vancouver will be subject to significantly longer, drier and hotter summers―a climatic shift that will require fundamental changes in water consumption, conservation and urban infrastructure. This transformation will also alter the typical growing season, allowing certain species of flora to thrive and others to suffer.


The conditions described above establish the conceptual framework of All that Melts: notes from the future-past. Reflecting on the
past, present and future consequences of climate change in Vancouver, Mazinani envisions the architecture of this public art space, amidst a commercial and residential landscape, as a crucial piece of environmental infrastructure.


The walls demarcating Offsite are wrapped with photographic documentation of digitally augmented glacier form sculptures, contrasted with native flora from the surrounding area. Several vertical hanging and surface gardens have been cultivated around the water catchments and developed in collaboration with Hives for Humanity, a local non-profit organization committed to education and skill training with a deeper understanding and respect for nature and bee culture. The various plant species were selected based on their ability to grow in the fragile forecast of Vancouver’s climate in 2080. Over the duration of the exhibition the water catchments will gather rainfall to sustain the plant life.


Spaced throughout the reflective pond are five sculptures that appear as glaciers, preserved cultural artifacts drifting in their own meltwater. These morphed versions of icebergs are integral figures in a geomythology of the future.


All that Melts proposes an urban landscape for 2080 as a means of speculating about how things could be. It is one vision of a future history; not simply the image of a scientific model but a mythological space that is inhabited by the consequences of its recent past, a story of the earth as told by the culture which co-produced it. This visually poetic, multi-media installation engages the past, as it reflects on our troubled present, in an attempt to imagine alternative, more desirable futures.


Offsite is located at 1100 West Georgia Street, between Thurlow and Bute Streets, just west of the Shangri–La Hotel. Directions »

Organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery on behalf of the City of Vancouver’s Public Art Program and curated by Diana Freundl Interim Chief Curator/Associate Director

Offsite is organized by the Vancouver Art Gallery on behalf of the City of Vancouver Public Art Program. The Gallery recognizes Ian Gillespie, President, Westbank; Ben Yeung, President, Peterson Investment Group; and the residents of the Shangri-La for their support of this space.