After the Portrait? N.E. Thing Co.’s Portfolio of Piles

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This chapter examines a work of 1968 by Iain Baxter, who at this date operated as N.E. Thing Co. His Portfolio of Piles is a “'portrait”' of Vancouver comprising a city map, an essay and 59 numbered photographs of various piles, ranging from freight containers to timber, from invoices to gloves. A key permits the locating of the piles. However, these piles are of course temporary, assemblages awaiting disaggregation or further ordering. So if the portfolio offers an itinerary it is the converse of a tourist trail. Yet nor can the portfolio be readily assimilated to the avant-garde, even if the piles suggest works by Robert Morris and Robert Smithson. The portfolio resists both avant-garde gestures and the portrait format. What does it mean to find a space between these states? Can another presentation of the city emerge here, a contingent image of Vancouver?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPaper Cities
Subtitle of host publicationUrban Portraits in Photographic Books
EditorsSusana S. Martins, Anne Reverseau
ISBN (Print)9789462700581
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Photography
  • Culture

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