‘Fire with Fire’ is an installation by Isabelle Hayeur, a Montreal-based artist working in the fields of landscape design and architecture. The installation, which is located on the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, is a video projection of 15 minutes playing in a continuous loop. It is an attempt to recall a troubled period of Vancouver’s history. The Downtown Eastside area is the oldest neighborhood of the city that slipped into urban decay since the 1980s. Currently the area is undergoing a major renovation.
“It is striking that the history of the Downtown Eastside began in destruction and disappearance. In 1886, soon after the city was incorporated, the Great Vancouver Fire swept down on the neighbourhood and razed almost all of it to the ground. The video installation Fire with Fire recalls this troubled period of Vancouver’s history. It also alludes to the neighbourhood’s present conditions by reminding us that many lives have been consumed there, worn down by years of homelessness, drug use, street prostitution, and violence.”
The suggestion that this house is burning is well performed. In fact the scene itself is more interesting than the underlying story about Vancouver’s history. Maybe the story was needed to get the project funded. The situation created here is pretty bizarre and entertaining. Could that be enough to like it? Notice the sound in the video to get an idea about the impact of the projection. In addition there’s a special surprise for those who watch the entire clip: “serving with pride”.