Saturday, December 28, 2013

SIXTIES VANCOUVER: VLADIMIR KEREMIDSCHIEFF'S PHOTOGRAPHS


On March 26, 1966, Bob Dylan led his band into Vancouver for a concert in front of a full house of 5,000 fans at the Agrodome, the city’s largest concert venue at the time. It was the last show he would perform in North America for eight long years. For a new generation of youthful believers, Dylan had already been canonized by the media as a singing troubadour of their aspirations to an all-en⁠c⁠ompassing social revolution.

Young people throughout the world were listening raptly to his recordings, as if they were the holy writ of their own social and political awakening, and conducting exercises in exegesis to decipher the esoteric code of their new religion.

On that grey and drizzling March evening, five of us — self-styled poets and artists all — were driving east along Hastings Street in Peter Auxier’s beat-up dark blue Chevy. The goal of our pilgrimage was Dylan’s concert later that night. Fervent anticipation beat in our hearts. We regarded ourselves as precocious veteran cognoscenti of the counter-culture revolution which had first sprung into existence in the late 1950s, nourished on the example of American cultural phenomena, including modern jazz and the literary florescence of the Beat generation. It’s no exaggeration to say that we all saw ourselves as situated close to the very centre — perhaps even at the vanguard — of a world-wide counter-cultural movement, and had done so since the earliest days of Dylan’s growing celebrity. Like thousands of other teenagers and young adults, we saw Dylan as our exalted comrade, a poet-herald of the future in the cultural war we all believed in, and dreamed we were waging against the dark, conformist past that even Eisenhower had warned against as he stepped down from the American presidency: the military industrial complex, colloquially known as The Man. A significant portion of our generation was steaming up to full rebellion against the established public order, which in our eyes threatened the future of the entire planet with atomic wars to perpetuate its world of permanent social and racial inequality. We admired Dylan as a poet and an avatar of a new world — as one of us.

Dylan, born in 1941, seemed a worthy and above all legitimate follower of the poet Allen Ginsberg and activist folk singers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger. My companions on that day had been part of the Vancouver counter-culture movement from the very beginning of the sixties. It was a phenomenon still little known to the wider public, yet increasingly popular at the time to the minority communities advocating public cultural action in the city. Peter Auxier, then a poet, was driving the car. He was later to become one of the forgotten founders of the Georgia Straight, the main media organ of the Vancouver underground when it was founded a year later. Mitzi Gibbs, a wise and sparkling personality, was also in the car with us, as was bill bissett, founder of the underground blewointment press, and now one of Canada’s most revered poets and artists.

It was bissett who first spotted and pointed out Dylan sitting in the silver-grey Buick sliding up beside us at the stoplight in the centre lane. “There’s Dylan!” he yelled. All our faces turned eagerly toward the window. And there the icon was, right beside us.

Two large bearded men wearing garish shirts were in the front seat. Dylan was behind them in the centre of the back seat, sitting upright, prim and alert. We were astonished to see his face so clearly and so close to us. He was sporting a gorgeous Afro like a nimbus around his head, each ash-blonde curl perfectly teased and in place. He looked like a cameo of a hip Victorian dandy, not at all like the ragged and indifferently-dressed beatnik bohemians we were. We expected that, like any normal celebrity, he would nod and smile at us with at least a polite pretense of friendly recognition. Instead, he greeted us with a cold, withering and unmoving stare of disdain.

It was not merely an indifferent snub. It was a frigid look of outright loathing and contempt — as if we were only insects splattered on his windshield. This was⁠n’t “Mr. Tambourine Man” with his happy wandering Beatle-boot heels that we saw next to us, but the vacuum in the eyes of the mystery tramp in “Like a Rolling Stone.”

At the time, he was in the midst of completing some inspiring but difficult sessions in Nashville, assembling his masterpiece double album, Blonde on Blonde. It’s been reported since that he was taking a lot of hard drugs in those days, mostly amphetamines, to overcome the exhausting demands of his touring and studio commitments.

In that long moment, Dylan appeared to me as a sick, unhappy goblin. All of us in the car felt stunned and wounded by his attitude. Yet we overcame the moment by quickly inventing the self-assuring consensus that there was nothing the matter with us. The problem was with “Bobby,” who was probably feeling sick and unhappy, we decided, forgiving him as we forgave ourselves. After all, we thought, despite being an exalted and brilliant poet hero, he was also — like all of us — a single individual in a global movement that was on its way to changing the world.

A few minutes later, Peter Auxier met up with Dylan’s bodyguards while buying coffee in the arena before the show. “Your boy doesn’t look too happy,” Peter said to them with his usual disarming candour, always diplomatic and engaging. As Peter told the story later, Dylan’s watchmen responded in kind. They were big men, and tough looking, Peter said, and they told Auxier that they were being driven crazy with the effort to keep their eye on Dylan every second. He was looking for a way to break away from them, they said, to escape from the coils of celebrity that had recently fallen upon him, turning his life into a nightmare of encounters with worshipful fans, so that he no longer recognized either himself or his fans. “There’s too much money riding on this guy,” they told Peter. “We can’t let him get away from us.”

For the record, Dylan took to the stage that night like the great professional showman he has always been. He sang a sparkling concert that aroused and enthralled the crowd. His normal slightly wry and sarcastic self, he showed no sign at all that he hated his audience, as he hated his own new life as a celebrity.

Dylan, like Eric Clapton, appears three times in this collection, more than any other musician, but the photos of him were taken eight years later — in 1974 in Seattle, Washington, not in Vancouver, BC in 1966. As I began to write this afterword about Vladimir Keremidschieff’s photographs of 1960s Vancouver, I thought of Dylan’s countenance that night in 1966 and wondered what might have happened had one of us had a camera and the wit and alacrity to record that shocking envenomed countenance on film.

It has been pointed out many times of late that we live in a world mediated by images. It’s often said that the collective memory and world view of the public, as much as those can be said to exist, are put together from these same ubiquitous images mixed together with words. What would have happened had we somehow found the means to publish that shocking image, with appropriate captions? We had thought of ourselves as equals, brothers and sisters of Bob Dylan within a joint cultural project defined by the solidarity of its actors, but here it was suddenly revealed that we were mere nobodies beside the stars like Dylan and the other cultural heroes created, sustained and promoted in the images of the contemporary media.

Vladimir’s arrangement of his photographs implicitly recognizes and pays tribute to this hierarchy of performers as stars and viewers as consumers, not through any misapprehension or volition of his own, but through the structure of social reality itself as revealed by his images.

My Back Pages, the original working title of Vladimir’s project, was drawn from an early Bob Dylan song. The book documents in that “old” black and white some of the more important moments in the narrative echo of the final years of the youth rebellion as it broke out in Vancouver, then and now recognized as a Canadian centre of radical political and cultural dissent.

 When Vladimir bought his first Pentax in the late 1960s, Vancouver was a growing city of 600,000 souls on the coastal edge — on the very fringe of the heartland of the American empire. Its economy and politics, like any another Canadian city, were heavily dominated by the power of corporations controlled outside the country, mainly from the United States, which in large part supplanted or marginalized whatever indigenous fringe or underground cultural movement of dissent existed in our city.

Vancouver was also an attractive destination for itinerant middle class youth, who, uniquely at that time, enjoyed the freedom, the resources, the means and the leisure to travel. They were labelled by the media as the baby boomers, the groundswell of population growth resulting from the economic boom that followed World War II. Impelled by the introduction of mass credit buying and publicized by the newly powerful advertising-funded mass medium of television, the booming economy engendered degrees and kinds of desire for consumption and pleasure that had no precedence. The baby boom cohort under the age of 25 constituted, by the mid-sixties, a vast market that became the target of a media blitz that mass-produced, packaged and sold them the goods of the cultural rebellion as the accoutrements of a consumable lifestyle.


Vancouver’s attractions spoke to the enlightenment seekers of the sixties, itinerant followers of Jack Kerouac’s vision in On the Road, the first bible and instruction manual of the counter-culture movement. The mild summer weather, the maritime atmosphere, the beaches, the parks, the mountains, the sparkling beauty of the city in the sunshine, the easy availability of full or part time employment: all enticements to those hitting the road without visible means of support, inspired by Kerouac’s message of the rejection of social conformity, the embrace of sexual freedom, and a new culture of caring and sharing.

To those of us who had been at the centre of the earlier movement of cultural dissent, it seemed at first that the explosive new trend among the baby boom generation was a validation of our own earlier, smaller and more circumscribed effort. The new hippie movement, with its wide popular appeal, gave us hope that it might actually help to bring about the awakening of consciousness and transformation of society that we had all aspired to. It would be wrong to say that the youth of our generation knew where any of this would end. All the signs pointed to the fact that the young were aware of a challenging necessity for social change and were sincerely and innocently ready to put their young bodies and well-being on the line to play a role in moving our entire society forward.

Vladimir pays laudatory tribute to Dylan in his introduction, where he exults that “Listening to those early Dylan recordings was having a dump truck explode in your head. He could make the blind see, the deaf hear and the righteous weep.” This “dump truck explosion” manifested itself in intense and complicated ways during those euphoric early days. Bob Dylan and the Beatles, with their unprecedented socially-critical pop lyrics, seemed to be putting words and images to the feelings and aspirations and inchoate thoughts that we all shared, but had been unable to fully articulate for ourselves. The first time I heard and felt that I had grasped Dylan’s lyrics it seemed I had suddenly been initiated into a light-strewn mission, full of poetic inspiration and exaltation, a sense of belonging to an awakening generation with a new and more enlightened outlook than the past.

A kind of euphoric trance descended upon our much-expanded community of revolutionaries, and we began to entertain the possibility that anything was possible. The feeling was enhanced by the fact that the mainstream media seemed to recognize our sudden special power, pointing out that the boomers constituted more than 50 percent of the population. Collectively, we thought we could influence progressive change in North American democracies. We still believed in those democracies, and we still believed that we could give them a new direction, now that we thought we knew what the future really held.

Of course, the widespread use of drugs, mostly marijuana and LSD, played a significant role in this widespread feeling of euphoria. There were not a few who believed that the drugs themselves were the chief agency of the new consciousness, and were a kind of high road to social transformation, once the population at large had been converted to their use.

It’s not as if the years that preceded the rebellious outbreak in the middle of the decade had been chock full of joy and light. A rebuffed American invasion of Cuba inaugurated the sixties in 1961, followed by the Cuban missile crisis, the most frightening of all nuclear confrontations between the two opposed superpowers of the United States and the Soviet Union. The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 sent shock waves throughout the entire world. And all of this was taking place against the background of the ever-present threat of nuclear holocaust. Dark and frightening times indeed.

In Vancouver, the forces of the counter-culture movement created several venues where they could listen to their own new music and celebrate their new-found solidarity. In July 1966, Sam Perry, a filmmaker with wide local connections, organized a Vancouver version of the first San Francisco Trips Festival, a multi-media event that featured the acid-rock bands of San Francisco: The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother and the Holding Company backing Janis Joplin, then barely known outside California. In March of the following year, I acted as the front man for the first Vancouver Easter Human Be-In (it wasn’t really necessary to “organize” anything in those days of heady collective spontaneity), in imitation of the January event of the same name in San Francisco and featuring some of the same bands, as well as star appearances by Allen Ginsberg and psychedelic drug guru Timothy Leary. To headline the event, local music promoter Jerry Kruz brought Country Joe and the Fish, one of the most outspoken of all political bands. The local authorities wanted to stop the Be-In from taking place in Stanley Park, to which we simply replied that the impetus for the event was already underway, and that nobody could stop it now from happening. It took place regardless of the civic ban, and even continued annually for another eight or nine years. At the time of the first Be-In, the spirits of the counter-culture movement in Vancouver were still flying high in a sky of blue — but dark clouds were on their way.

My own disenchantment with the “peace and love” flower-child contingent of the counter-culture began with a pilgrimage to San Francisco in January of 1968, only six months after the highly publicised “Summer of Love.” There the cracks and decay within the economics and politics of the counter-culture were starkly apparent. The Haight–Ashbury district had already dissolved into a cesspool of drug-taking, needle-induced disease, rampant venereal disease, grinding poverty, drug-profit exploitation, and drug-induced psychosis. It was enough to make me understand that the idealism and the drugs of the love and peace generation alone were never going to be enough to bring serious changes to the world.

During my pilgrimage to San Francisco there was a newspaper strike in the city that shut down all the mainstream papers, leaving the streets open to the vendors of the San Francisco Oracle, who proudly displayed their own dissident headline: “Guess who’s winning in Vietnam?” This in the midst of the furious Tet Offensive, which for the first time raised the spectre of a humiliating American defeat — a positive outcome in the minds of the counter-cultural elements like myself and others who had taken the side of the national liberation forces in Vietnam. The joyous anticipation of this possibility, however, merely emphasized the darkness of the events taking place on the home front.

On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King, the celebrated advocate of non-violent resistance, was assassinated in Memphis. Riots in Washington, Baltimore and other American cities were a reprise of earlier riots expressing the rage of Afro-Americans at the inequality and brutality they were still suffering in so-called democratic America. The Civil Rights movement was struggling toward light and apparent victory amidst ongoing murders and bombings and brutality against Afro-American people in the United States. The mood had been dark until the Johnson administration moved forward with its Civil Rights agenda, driven by the Civil Rights Act of July, 1964, a victory for the forces of racial equality. It had seemed as if the new youth movement was acting as the catalyst for peace and social equality, but the assassination of King lent credence to the claims of armed self-defence advocates like the Black Panthers — that the violence of the American state could not be successfully countered or overcome by peaceful means. The US was seething and collapsing into racial and ideological civil war.

On June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was shot after winning the Democratic presidential primary in California and died the following day. Kenneth T. Walsh quotes the American sociologist Todd Gitlin: “To think about the enormous repercussions of the assassinations of 1968, we need to backtrack to the imagery and mood of a more general Armageddon, for which the triggering moment is the assassination of 1963. Kennedy, King, Kennedy: they sometimes felt like stations in one protracted murder of hope.”

Traumatic events at the Democratic Party convention held in Chicago August 26 to 29, 1968, demonstrated to the surging forces of dissent that they could not count on the support of the mainstream American political parties to fulfill their aims in seeking peace. Chicago mayor Richard Daley, also a supporter of the Vietnam war, sent out thousands of police and National Guardsmen to attack the demonstrators — the 10,000 or so mainly youth and students who came out to protest the direction the American government was taking. They were beaten with truncheons, tear-gassed, handcuffed and hauled off to jails in what a later investigation called a “police riot.” Meanwhile, on the convention floor itself, Daley’s hired security thugs even attacked members of the mainstream press, including Dan Rather. The message to the youth was that no mainstream party in the United States would support their efforts to end the war in Vietnam. The youth movement of the entire world was calling for peace and an end to the imperial policy of the U.S. in Vietnam, and was being countered with outright violence by the American state against its own citizens. The outcome of these traumatic events was the election of Richard Nixon, on a pro-war and law-and-order platform, as president of the United States.

The photographs in Seize the Time from this period are missing the jubilant spirit that animated the earlier years of the youth rebellion — a mood that had turned more sombre and reflective. This is not to say that the youth movement was ever monolithic. It represented, instead, a potpourri of concerns ranging from the seriously political and the exotically spiritual, to the hedonism suggested by the omnipresent slogans of “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” and “do your own thing,” to the outright abandonment of any serious agenda for the human future, like Timothy Leary’s exhortation to “turn on, tune in, drop out.” In direct contradiction to the early ambitions of the counter-culture movement, all of these slogans were open appeals for non-participation in public discourse and action.

Bob Dylan’s optimistic earlier political anthems like “Blowin’ in the Wind and “The Times They are a-Changin’” gradually gave way to the overt cynicism of Highway 61 Revisited, with its dark humour and bitter social satire, followed by bleak veiled allegories of depression and apocalypse like “Desolation Row and “All Along the Watchtower.” The organized political youth were dismayed when both the Beatles and Dylan seemed to abandon them: the Beatles released “Revolution,” which openly condemned the anger within the youth movement, and Mick Jagger has said of the 1968 Rolling Stones release, “Sympathy For the Devil,” that “I wrote it as kind of a Bob Dylan song.”

The images in this book are thus appropriately in black and white, reflecting more accurately the increasingly sombre mood of the times rather than the psychedelic colour of the earlier sixties. One feels the dominance of brown and grey — of damp Vancouver skies rather than summer sunshine. Those who never witnessed and experienced the events recorded by Vladimir’s Pentax will probably see them as a kind of sepia representation of their parents’ history and life. Those who were present will be seeking tokens of remembrance and might pore over them closely, as I did, for the sight of familiar faces, including their own. As the culture critic John Berger has parenthetically pointed out in his essay “Understanding a Photograph,” “The most popular use of the photograph is as a memento of the absent.”

The varied and powerful social movements documented in Vladimir’s photographs are still being played out and still have their effect on contemporary reality. The peace movement is still alive, the movement for the preservation of the natural environment is active and stronger than ever before, the movement for women’s equality continues. A candidate in the next Canadian federal election, whose father’s image appears in this book, has recently declared that he would legalize the use of marijuana, the harmless drug that fueled many a fantasy of revolution in the sixties. The mills of the gods grind slowly, for sure — the most unimportant issue of those days works its way toward resolution, while on the important issues, the achievement of world peace and social equality, mainstream politics remains stalled on the same dangerous yet familiar pathways of money and power.

The survivors of the sixties protest movements whose youthful enthusiasms are recorded in this book might well now be asking how much their idealism, effort and sacrifice has actually accomplished in terms of effecting positive social change over the past half-century.

Vladimir’s photographs can be divided into three distinct categories: the city and its people, the music, and the protests. Appreciating the value of the book requires the recognition that above all it is a book about people and human social activity. It is not about the architecture of the city that frames their actions, nor is it about the rich and famous of the city, or the local political elites who exercise their power in the city. It is not even so much about the majority of the people of the city, although their visible presence always remains suggestively in the background. More than anything else, the book is about the dissident youthful minority and their musical heroes and idols, their models of the time, misguided or otherwise.

According to Vladimir’s introduction, he made his living by taking photographs of the counter-culture entertainers who performed in Vancouver and selling them to the mainstream press: within the context of the times, an honourable and probably badly underpaid occupation. His photographs of the protests are more like an unpaid genuine labour of love, not money, and all the more valuable on that account. Their ideological message is obvious and sharply contrary to the prevailing powers of the time.

The demonstrators appear in the main in a positive and happy light. Vladimir wants to present his subjects as people with an honest mission, worthy of attention and affection. He is on their side, and not on the side of authority. Seize the Time is openly, avowedly and transparently a book of visual polemics, aimed at assisting the process of making changes in a society that Vladimir obviously sees and presents as unjust and inhumanely organized, requiring change. The named musical heroes and the unnamed faces in the crowds of demonstrators are presented as the agents of the demand for that change.

The photographic argument begins with the old BC Hydro building, the unquestionably necessary electrical centre of the industrial, and therefore the economic life of the city and the province. Every window in the building is filled with light against the darkness of the surrounding night, a symbolic image of misplaced opulence and wanton waste of a precious natural resource, a political statement in its own right. Yet despite the environmental movement and its demand to save precious energy for useful purposes, some still view this image of conspicuous consumption as a source of civic pride. In any case, a source of ongoing political contention in the city is evoked from the very first pages of the book.

A series of Vladimir’s photographs from 1970 document an effort on the part of Harry Rankin, a well-known reformist Vancouver politician, to organize public discourse among sections of the population not normally consulted in civic affairs. Their neighbourhood, Gastown, a decaying district beside the now notorious Downtown Eastside, is in the process of being developed into a quaint and profitable tourist destination. The citizens represented in these images are obviously unhappy and impoverished, disempowered and disenfranchised, their hardened faces skeptical and resigned. Today, as international visitors tour Gastown directly from the cruise ships that stop over in the city, the surrounding blocks remain a centre of unrelieved and growing homelessness and ongoing civic dissension.

The opening section of the book also contains photographs of Vancouver’s elder citizens of those days, reflecting their curiosity and bewilderment at novel events in their changing world — like the two senior women who are observed bemusedly watching and pointing at “Hare Krishnas singing and dancing,” as we are informed by the caption.

Other images are more mysterious and harder to interpret, although they evoke immediate feelings and speculations. A photograph of two “square” middle-aged Vancouver citizens flanking a young woman is captioned only “Two men and a lady.” Her hand gesture toward her mouth seems to signal uncertainty and a sense of vulnerability, but the expressions on the faces of the men, though intense, cannot be fully read or interpreted. A woman taxi driver with a face like a movie star, were it not for her blurred, sad, burdened and hardened expression, leans out of the window of her cab. The caption tells us suggestively that the photograph was “for an article on female cab drivers, a somewhat controversial occupation for women in those days.” The section also contains strong portraits of young people whose dress and posture signifies their self-declared status as members of the counter-culture. Their expressions are proud and thoughtful.

Though not foregrounded, a few of the prominent politicians of the day make occasional appearances. A portrait of the then Vancouver mayor presiding over a council meeting is captioned “Tom ‘Terrific’ Campbell,” as he was in fact sarcastically labelled by the population. A champion of the well-heeled real estate developers who transformed the city’s west end during the 1960s, he once labelled hippies gathering around the steps of the Vancouver Courthouse as “scum,” and carried out a hysterical and physically brutal campaign against them until a City Council committee finally declared that the mild and non-violent hippies of Vancouver were “no threat to the society.” Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau appears in a Karsh-like “sensitive” portrait. A second photograph shows him, a practising Catholic, meeting in a highly casual atmosphere with a group of women talking about abortion issues. A bearded, bespectacled poet wearing a beaded necklace, at “UBC open house festivities, 1970,” reads from a book called Our Word with a photo of an automatic rifle on its cover. Four decades later the young poet would re-emerge as the popular and well-dressed trade union leader George Heyman, recently elected as a member of the British Columbia legislature.

Seize the Time presents a series of photographs of some of the musicians who were the idols and mentors of the counter-culture, mostly in performance. They were taken, according to Vladimir’s introduction, primarily for publication in newspapers, and as such are unabashed fan pics.

A few stand out as portraits — unique and especially revealing of their subjects, caught exactly at moments that really count. Janis Joplin, with a leonine mane, drinks desperately from a bottle of what looks like tequila in the middle of a performance, while the lights in the facing photograph seem to burn into Janice’s emotion-filled face as she sings into a hand-held microphone. Both photographs together showcase her famous flame of passionate intensity. Chuck Berry’s clear-cut facial features as he thumbs an amulet strung around his neck foreground the confident sexual intensity that rings out so hotly in his performances.

My own favourite is the candid photo of Jim Morrison of the Doors, taken perhaps by surprise through the window of the helicopter in which he sits. Morrison gazes calmly at the photographer with a look both sceptical and defensive. The young Dionysius appears flushed and slightly bloated, world weary and thoughtful, tired, older than his age. He would be dead within a year. It’s an affecting reminder of the dangerous and self-destructive character of not a few of the culture heroes of the day, dogged by drugs and suicide. For me, it is one of the most iconic pictures in the book, bearing visual witness to the hubris and self-indulgent recklessness of the counter-culture — the blindness that prevented the youth movement of the time from effecting wider positive changes in the society we inherited.

Vladimir’s photos of protests consist almost entirely of crowd scenes, many of them taken on the steps of Vancouver’s former Courthouse, converted to become the Vancouver Art Gallery in 1983, and still today the preferred site of political demonstrations in the city. Here we view the meaning of Vladimir’s’s efforts, the message that the book seems designed to carry — the crowd tableaus look as if their actors are appearing on stage for a curtain call. They are carrying flags and waving placards: “U.S. Aggressors Get Out of Vietnam,” “Honour Geneva Agreements,” “Their Fight is our Fight,” “Stop Shipment of War Materials,” “Peace Now,” ”Escalate “People’s War”; along with representations of the revolutionary leaders of the day, Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevara, Mao Tse-Tung. The people are singing and shouting and playing guitars as they march. There is a photograph of an actual fight on the steps of the Courthouse, a sign of the ideological divisions within the ranks of the dissenters of all ideological stripes, Trotskyists, anarchists, Maoists. They depict mostly but not exclusively young people. Their faces are determined and serious, but also proud.

Most of the photographs taken throughout this period by others emphasize a drama played out between dissenting demonstrators and police, the representatives of order and the status quo. But images of police are oddly missing from this collection. It’s as if the photographer has made the conscious decision to leave them out in his effort to produce a positive image of his subjects as they appeared in themselves and for themselves.

Recent discourses of photography emphasize two main issues: the photograph as documentary object reflecting social and historical reality, and the photograph as art object embodying human emotion and values. In Vladimir’s photographs, the two are wound together in inextricable ways. His work presented here clearly acts in both of these directions: documentary and aesthetic.

This photographer works not from the fringes of the crowds but from front and centre — less a voyeur, more a participant. Vladimir’s subjects in these photos saw themselves as the moral agents of necessary change, and they need to be remembered as such. Vladimir has done them that honour.

See a larger selection of photographs from the book and a review in Tyee Magazine: http://thetyee.ca/Books/2013/12/28/Vancouver-Summer-of-Love/ 

Seize the Time is available now from New Star Books in Vancouver.