In 2010, while working on his book City of Love and Revolution: Vancouver in the Sixties, historian Lawrence Aronsen was given access to the Georgia Straight archives held by the Rare Books and Special Collections division of UBC Library. “Archives”: two banker’s boxes filled with an assortment of loose 8x10 photographs, which UBC’s archivists had diligently tried to bring some order to.
Among the more striking images to be found in the boxes were some prints linked to the photographer only by a laconic inscription in grease pencil on the back: “Vlad.” Published copies of the Georgia Straight weren’t much help, as their photo credits read simply, “Photo by Vlad.” Internet research led to Rick McGrath’s website about the history of the Georgia Straight. McGrath’s site — since paywalled — provided a last name: Keremidschieff. That lead to a discussion forum, where someone in Australia by the name of Vladimir Keremidschieff posted from time to time.
Yes, was the reply we received to our e-mail; he was indeed that Vladimir Keremidschieff, and he’d be delighted to see his old photos reproduced in City of Love and Revolution. The old prints we had, however, probably weren’t that great. “Believe it or not, I still have the negs of those days,” Vlad responded. “I’ve scanned a number of negs so that you can get much better reproduction.” He’d been carrying those negatives, hundreds of images, around with him ever since he left Vancouver with his partner Lindsay in 1975, before eventually setting in Sydney, Australia.
That fortuitous encounter led to a longer conversation that now bears fruit in the form of Vlad’s own book, selected from his archives of that period, Seize the Time: Vancouver Photographed, 1967–1974. One hundred photographs taken in and around Vancouver (a few from as far away as Seattle), of ordinary street scenes and raucous demonstrations, be-ins, rock festivals and concerts, personalities, habitats, and quiet moments, many originally published in the Straight, the Vancouver Sun and The Province, along with many never before seen, constitute a vital archive of Sixties Vancouver. Jamie Reid, author of Prez: Homage to Lester Young, contributes an afterward that provides some of the social and cultural context for Vlad’s work.
The publication of Seize the Time is accompanied by an exhibition at the Commercial Street Cafe, 3599 Commercial Steet at 20th Avenue, of prints of selected photos in Vladimir’s book. A joint book launch / exhibition opening is taking place at 7 pm, Friday, November 1, at the Commercial Street Cafe. Admission is free.
Seize the Time goes on sale in November at Black Bond Books, Bolen Books, Hager Books, Laughing Oyster Bookshop, Mosaic Books, Munro’s, People’s Co-op Bookstore, Royal BC Museum Shop, Spartacus Books, UBC Bookstore, Chapters, Indigo, Amazon.ca, Indigo.ca, and our very own website.