The Good, The Bad and The Allegory


Assemble have created two contemporary frescoes of Vancouver with illustrator Daniel Clarke.

Based on the medieval Italian painting, ‘The Allegory of Good and Bad Governance’, by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, they depict good and bad versions of Vancouver as a playful reminder to the City authority in Vancouver of its responsibilities.

Lorenzetti’s works adorn the walls of the Palazzo Publico in Siena, and as one of the first major non-religious commissions of the Renaissance, it was created to remind the governing officials of their duties to the citizens of the city. The ‘Good’ city shows a harmonious relationship between an orderly city and a well managed countryside, the ‘Bad’ shows a city in ruins, a countryside ravaged. The paintings take the responsibility for the fortune of the city away from the divine and deliver it squarely to the local government.

Our vision of ‘Bad Vancouver’ shows it in thrall to development economics, and our ‘Good Vancouver’ as a rich and diverse metropolis. Like Lorenzetti’s paintings they are deliberately, and comically simplistic, and are meant more as a message to Vancouver’s administration than as a masterplan for change. Their message is simply: when capital accumulation is allowed to drive civic policy the city, and its communities and ecologies, suffers.