Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Capital Cities


Sylvia Grace Borda
Artist Talk
Wednesday June 12, 2002 at 7pm


Capital Cities┬ápresented a series of colour and black and white photographs of specific locations in Tokyo and London taken between 1997 and 2002. The photographs of Sylvia Borda contemplate the emergence of a transnational, ‘supermodernist’ architectural aesthetic, whose forms are repeated in capital cities across the world. Borda focused on the transportation grids of each city to address the phenomena of global urbanization and suggest the implications of these structures on human relationships.

In both London and Tokyo, transportation systems represent a new site of cultural and economic intersections. With increasingly globalizing economies, both cities have had to develop systems to efficiently transport citizens through chaotic geometries of train tracks, electrical wiring, surveillance mirrors and cameras. The result is the accidental creation of new complexes and gathering points for citizens whose lives are regulated by movement through the city.

Her photographs reveal the architecture of these central launching points, their historical amnesia, their creation of new semiotic markers, and their insistence on movement. Capital Cities considers the often strained relationships that exist between citizens and these new public spaces that discourage such connections between passing individuals. Borda arranged the photographs in grids which appear to form typological systems, but they are stripped of markers and signifiers that would indicate location. The viewer then consumes the image on a more immediate (and even mundane) level, similar to the experience of someone on a daily commute.

This exhibition marks a departure in Sylvia Borda’s practice of digital and new media work. Her work has been included in recent exhibitions at the Richmond Art Gallery (2002), the California Museum of Photography (2002), the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (2001), Moonbase Gallery (2001), Seattle Art Museum (1998), the Photographer’s Gallery in London (1997), the Canadian Craft Museum (1996) and the Surrey Art Gallery (1996). In addition to her extensive exhibition history, Borda is also an instructor at the University of British Columbia and Langara College, and lectures on digital technologies in London, Los Angeles, Seattle and Havana.