Analysis of my ‘Jammed’ Image

Analysis of my ‘Jammed’ Image

My jamming image is meant to illuminate the way in which Vancouver’s fetishization of property, reliance on neoliberalist ideals, and continued displacement and gentrification of communities, perpetuates inequality by reinforcing the notion that the city is a space solely for the super wealthy and elite.

In Vancouver, the far-reaching effects of the housing affordability crisis, and the rapid redevelopment of traditionally low-income neighbourhoods, has affected a large cross-section of the city’s population. In the DTES, where people are arguably most affected by the process of gentrification, stigma, the criminalization of residents and spaces, and other tactics have been used to justify and normalize the community’s changing landscape (Vancouver Sun, 2017).

The image I created is built around a photo I took in an alleyway in Strathcona. The message plastered across the dilapidated structure is clear- the need for affordable, social housing is growing rapidly.

Over top of this photograph I inserted a glossy banner, mocking the phrasing and sentiments reproduced in the original luxury condo ad. Surrounding the central image are quotes from politicians and local developers on the gentrification of the DTES. Their total lack of regard for the people and community they are working to push out showcases their .

The juxtaposition of this jammed image, to the original ad, forces the viewer to confront the stark reality that condo developers and marketers often try to coverup. The creation of these new, and largely unattainable buildings, works to erase the area’s history, and displaces a large number of low-income residents that have been in the DTES for decades. Importantly, the removal of these individuals from their homes is not met with an equal push from the government to create affordable housing. All of these things together has helped to increase homelessness in Vancouver by 30% since last year, and maintain BC Housing’s 4,000 person long waitlist (CBC News, 2017).

The significant effects that a lack of adequate housing can have on low-income women living in the community, is demonstrated in Torchalla et. al’s (2015) qualitative analysis of the experiences of pregnant and postpartum women in the DTES. Here, the social determinants of health (housing being one of them) is shown to have a significant impact on women in the area. Without affordable and accessible housing, many struggle to maintain a quality of life.

Ultimately, my jammed image is meant to critically analyze the way in which condo developers and marketers work to erase the experiences of low-income folks living in the DTES, and displace entire communities for the benefit of the wealthy. This has significant social implications for the entire neighbourhood.


CBC News (2017). Homelessness up 30% in Metro Vancouver. Retrieved from:

Torchalla, I., Aube Linden, I., Strehlau, V., Neilson, E. K., Krausz, M. (2015). “Like a lots happened with my whole childhood”: violence, trauma, and addiction in pregnant and postpartum women from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Harm Reduction Journal, 12(1), 1-10.

Vancouver Sun (2017). Downtown Eastside Gentrification Creating ‘Zones of Exclusion’ for Community Residents. Retrieved from:

Analysis of the Original Ad

Displacement, Gentrification and the Downtown Eastside

For the purposes of this assignment, I intend to highlight how the affordability crisis, in tandem with the commodification and gentrification of low-income areas in Vancouver, contributes to the displacement and erasure of entire communities. Focusing primarily on the DTES, my ‘jam’ interrogates the hypocritical ways in which marketers and developers attempt to mitigate the inherently political and problematic nature of buying and selling a luxury condo in the middle of the DTES, and how the provincial and municipal governments choose to ignore the growing need for accessible and affordable housing in the city.

Over the last 15 years, the DTES has undergone significant changes. As investors, developers and politicians continue to move into the area under the guise of ‘urban renewal’, the homes and communities of many are being threatened or destroyed. The increased development of the DTES, and growing number of renovictions and demovictions, are symptomatic of it’s changing landscape. Notably, this (very intentional) process of displacement disproportionately affects women, especially indigenous women and women of colour, and families that have been living in the community for decades (Benoit, 2003).

The advertisement shown here is for a newly developed condo built just two blocks away from the corner of Main and Hastings, in the heart of Chinatown. The luxury condo’s are described as being an oasis in an urban setting, located in the centre of a neighbourhood that is rich in culture and heritage. Importantly, the culture and heritage that this condo is selling, is the same heritage it is working to erase.

Prior to the development of this building, the block between Keefer and Main was marked by local businesses and low-income apartments. Now, the ominous new structure is largely unattainable to the majority of former residents who, on average, make $18,000 a year (City of Vancouver, 2013). Further, the influx of high-income residents has worked to increase the average cost of rent in the area, drive out businesses, and alienate community members who have lived their for decades.

The advertisement’s use of words like ‘vibrant’ and ‘urban’ to describe the building’s location, softens, and ultimately undercuts, the significant impact the emergence of these kinds of developments will have on the neighbourhood, and works to commodify the poverty, stigma, and racism that has been directed towards the DTES for years.

To me, this image is representative of the ways that developers reinvent low-income spaces (like the DTES) for their own profit. Importantly, this process contributes to the gentrification of cities and the displacement of entire communities.

As the DTES continues to be demolished for the benefit of wealthy Vancouverites, the history, community, and general regard for the area’s inhabitants is quickly disappearing, while the cost of living is skyrocketing.


Benoit, C. (2003). In Search of a Healing Place: Aboriginal women in Vancouver’s Downtown    Eastside. Social Sciences and Medicine (56), 4, pp. 821-833

City of Vancouver (2013). Downtown Eastside Local Area Report 2013. Retrieved from: http://