Terra Poirier

Boon: Olympic Village, one year later

Proponents of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics promised that the billions spent would leave a “legacy” of public infrastructure, such as affordable housing at the athlete’s village. In February 2011, a year after the games, Terra Poirier photographed the Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek.


Terra Poirier is an interdisciplinary artist working in analog and low-fidelity formats to explore memory, place, and the disruption of both. She works with pinhole photography, text, photo-transfer, book works and installation to represent memories comprised of fiction and nonfiction, nightmares, dreams and wishful thinking. She is interested in how distortions can contribute to identity and rewrite history — both personal and collective. Poirier is also interested in absence and gaps — in memory, art, and communication — spaces that invite searching, projection, engagement, misunderstanding, and new versions of the same story. A major focus of her practice is long exposure pinhole photography to create unsettling and fragmented landscapes.

Poirier was born in London, England, and spent her childhood on the move with and without family, from Toronto to the Northwest Territories, to Montreal and back, from the Comox Valley to Vancouver and its suburbs, sometimes living in tents, and for a while at a drive-in movie theatre. Later, as a young lesbian mother, Poirier kept moving, searching for community and security for her family. All of Poirier’s work in memoir and landscape is grounded in this itinerancy.

Bringing together her interests in labour and in/visibility, Poirier created the artist book Non-Regular: Precarious academic labour at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in collaboration with 26 instructors and artists and published by UNIT/PITT Projects October 2018. Order the book and learn more at nonregular.ca. A related project, Sessional Office, a photo-text installation concerned with the intersection of space and precarious artistic labour, recently exhibited at Mónica Reyes Gallery in Vancouver.

In 2018 Poirier completed a decade-long BFA in Photography (Art + Text minor) at Emily Carr University of Art + Design, and was awarded the Governor General’s Academic Medal and the Saralee James Memorial Award. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Lind Prize for Emerging Artists and my photo-text installation Memory Block – consisting of pinhole photographs and community stories about a neighbourhood undergoing gentrification – was exhibited in the Lind Prize group exhibition at Presentation House Gallery.

Poirier’s short films have screened internationally, and she has taught video production at the Gulf Islands Film and Television School, Access to Media Education Society and through the Vancouver Queer Film Festival.