Browse the Belkin Collection
Ruins in Process: Vancouver Art in the Sixties

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Archives

The Belkin Gallery houses archival collections complementing its collections of art and providing a resource for exhibitions, teaching, and learning, and scholarly research. Related especially to contemporary art since the 1960s, the archives include the papers of artists, art historians, and collectors, and contain material in multiple media (textual, graphic, moving image and sound), with a thematic focus on conceptual art, concrete poetry, mail art, performance art, social art history, and cultural history.

The Archives is open to all researchers by appointment on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Please contact Shaunna Moore, Archivist to plan your visit.

For a detailed list of holdings, please consult Memory BC:
http://www.memorybc.ca/morris-and-helen-belkin-art-gallery

Prominent holdings include:

Morris/Trasov Archive

1932 – present
50 m of textual records and other materials

Administrative history

Established in 1992, the Morris/Trasov Archive is housed at the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery. The Morris/Trasov Archive is an extensive collection related to the art practices of Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov. The items that comprise the archive date predominantly from 1969 to 1974. Conceived and initiated as Image Bank in 1969 and subsequently re-named the Morris/Trasov Archive, it encompasses both the collaborative art practice of Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov and material generated by Morris and Trasov individually, as well as other items collected by the artists.

Morris and Trasov founded the Image Bank in 1969. The Image Bank was a system of postal correspondence between participating artists for the exchange of information and ideas. Since 1967, Morris (and later Trasov) corresponded with Ray Johnson, considered to be the founding father of mail art. Johnson had founded the New York Correspondence School in 1962, and this no doubt influenced Morris and Trasov’s establishment of the Image Bank. In fact, the artists were included in Johnson’s 1970 New York Correspondence School exhibition at the Whitney Museum, New York. The Image Bank commenced sending lists of participants and their image requests, published first in monthly Image Bank mailings and later in FILE magazine – a reference and antidote to LIFE magazine – as directories and Request Lists, and maintained files of artists’ correspondence and research.

The intention of the Image Bank was to create a collaborative, process-based project in the hopes of engendering a shared creative consciousness – in opposition to the alienation endemic to modern capitalist society – through the deconstruction and recombination of its ideological forms. Ultimately, “Image Bank never officially closed its doors. The end came in 1978 after the publication of the Image Bank Postcard Show. This was a box of postcards that could be conceived of as an exhibition destined for the mail. Just as LIFE magazine sued FILE magazine to cease and desist the appropriation of its logo, a New York company called Image Bank threatened suit against Image Bank, stalling distribution of the postcards through bookstores and gallery shops.” (Scott Watson, “Hand of the Spirit: Documents of the Seventies form the Morris/ Trasov Archive,” University of British Columbia Fine Arts Gallery: Vancouver, 1992.)

Scope and content

The collection consists of material created and collected by Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov/ Image Bank (including the Image Exchange Directory), to exhibitions such as 1984 (1972), Post Card Show (1971 and 1977), to projects such as Colour Bars, Cultural Ecology, and to events such as Art’s Birthday, Decca Dance, Miss General Idea Pageant (and Pavilion). Also documented are collaborative encounters with artists such as Robert Filliou, General Idea, Robert Fones, Robert Cummings, Ray Johnson, John Dowd, Anna Banana, Bill Gaglione, Eric Metcalfe, Kate Craig, John Jack Baylin, Hervé Fischer, Victor Cavellini, Hermann Nitsch and Fluxus artists. The Archive contains documents from the mayoralty campaign by Mr. Peanut, from the establishment of the Western Front – one of the first artist run centres in Western Canada – and numerous publications such as FILE magazine, catalogues and editions of cards. Further, the archive includes an extensive collection of material complementing Morris’s and Trasov’s personal fonds, such as books, periodicals, and other published material as well as art in multiple forms and media, including artists books, moving image and sound recordings, collages, correspondence, ephemera, exhibition catalogues, found objects, mailings, magazines, multiples and editions of cards, photographic prints, negatives, slides and transparencies, postcards, posters, drawings, and prints.

View Babyland archival material

View Colour Research 1967-2000 archival material
View Vincent Trasov’s website
View Michael Morris’ website

For further information please contact: Krisztina Laszlo at klaszlok@interchange.ubc.ca,
tel: (604) 822-3640, or fax: (604) 822-6689