Culture: Evening in the Morgue, Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival, VIFF, Portishead

Time to pack up the beach blanket and soak up some indoor culture. Festival season is in full swing, Halloween brings a night at the morgue, and cult rockers and ?a West Coast art show round out the offerings. Halloween // Evening in the Morgue

Evening in the morgue | BCBusiness

Time to pack up the beach blanket and soak up some indoor culture. Festival season is in full swing, Halloween brings a night at the morgue, and cult rockers and 
a West Coast art show round out the offerings.

Halloween // Evening in the Morgue

In what seems to be a global trend, Halloween in Vancouver is increasingly an adult-oriented affair. A compelling option for those not inclined to don sexy nurse outfits or skimpy gladiator garb is the Vancouver Police Museum’s Evening in the Morgue. The museum occupies what was once the city coroner’s service, where from 1932 to the 1980s some 20,000 autopsies were performed. Upstairs, morgue lockers and the autopsy room – with its steel gurneys, organ scales and bone saws – have been left intact. With unsettling enthusiasm, museum director Chris Mathieson plays the role of coroner most nights in October, elaborating on tricks of the trade and listing eminent corpses that have graced the room, including that of Errol Flynn, the Hollywood hedonist who died in 1959 in a West End apartment after a week of characteristic binging. As discomforting as it is titillating, Evening in the Morgue is poignant commentary on the grim fascination with death that underlies Halloween’s candy-and-costume façade. Vancouver 
Police Museum, Oct. 7-31.

Literature // Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival

Ready for your literary factoid of the day? Caledonian antisyzygy is literary jargon for a classic good-versus-evil struggle that rages inside us all and is thought to be typical of both the Scottish people and their literature. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is likely the best-known example, but an entire genre of Scottish crime fiction, known somewhat playfully as Tartan Noir, has grown up around the concept. Among its greatest contemporary practitioners is Scottish thriller writer and all-around creepy guy Ian Rankin, best known for his 17 Inspector Rebus novels. Rankin, joined by Canada-based crime-fiction peer Peter Robinson, speaks at this month’s Writers and Readers Festival on Granville Island. Some 100 authors from around the world, including Canadians Elizabeth Hay, Miriam Toews and Peter Behrens, are appearing at the six-day literary fete, which began in 1988 and now draws around 14,000 book lovers every year. Various venues on Granville Island, Oct. 18-23.

Film // Vancouver International Film Festival

Would the Arab Spring have blossomed without the camera phone? Raw footage of government thugs maiming and shooting protestors, captured on iPhones and Androids, posted on YouTube and Tweeted around the world, fuelled uprisings from Tunis to Tripoli. But crowd-sourced digital dissidence perhaps first came to the fore during Iran’s fleeting Green Revolution. Iranian director Ali Samadi Ahadi integrates rough street video of the 2009 protests into a unique documentary-collage, bound together with graphic-novel-type animations, in his film The Green Wave, showing this month at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The film is one of several that probe unrest and the quest for empowerment in the Middle East and beyond at the festival, which showcases 350 films from 80 countries. Various venues, Sept. 29-Oct. 14.

Art // The Distance Between You and Me

Enough with the Eurocentrism, already. A new exhibit at VAG explores cultural roots closer to home, showcasing three artists spanning the Vancouver-Guadalajara axis. The most arresting images come from Guadalajara’s Gonzalo Lebrija, whose series of four 16-millimetre films show the artist running away from the viewer as fast as he can. Titled The Distance Between You and Me, the videos produce the uncomfortable feeling that somehow it’s you he’s running away from. Equally unsettling is the sense of displacement evoked in Here and Elsewhere, a two-channel video installation by Los Angeles-based Kerry Tribe, which explores ideas of place, time and memory through a conversation between a father and young daughter. Rounding out the exhibit’s themes of space and geography is Vancouver’s Isabelle Pauwels, who blends video and found photographs from her suburban home with amateur movies shot by her grandfather in the Belgian Congo. Be sure to check it out before it’s dislocated. Vancouver Art Gallery, opens Sept. 24.

Music // Portishead

Portishead are to modern experimental rock what Phish are to folky jam rock. Both bands were wildly popular in the nineties and spent most of the aughts on hiatus. Both defined their own genres and inspire maniacal devotion in fans. But what really makes these ‘90s musical megaliths special is the sense of occasion surrounding their rare live performances. In the weeks preceding Portishead’s first Vancouver show since their extended vacation, long-suffering fans will start coming out of the woodwork. Water cooler talk will turn to the legendary London and New York shows before the decade-long dark age between albums and the relative merits of the earlier, more hip-hop-infused work and the later electronica material. The first album released by the reconstituted band was 2008’s Third, a fixture of that year’s critical “Best Albums” lists. This month’s appearance is part of the North American tour that album never got – Portishead doesn’t like to be rushed. The PNE Forum, Oct. 23.