In January 2017, Nahed Mansour was appointed as SAVAC’s Artistic Director. Nahed holds an MFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University and has worked as an independent curator since 2007 while maintaining a visual and media arts practice.
Her curatorial practice perfectly aligns well SAVAC’s mandate of supporting and showcasing culturally diverse and racialized artists that work in a range of mediums. She has programmed film/video, photography, installation, and performance works that center on the themes of migration (FADO), Palestinian resistance (Mayworks Festival), border issues (La Centrale), migratory flows (SAVAC), language (Toronto Free Gallery), and most recently was selected to take part in VTape’s curatorial incubator where she curated the video program This is Tenderness. This program highlighted precarious, domestic, and emotional labour in relationship to racialized and gendered politics.
Before coming to SAVAC in 2015, Nahed worked as the Director of the Mayworks Festival for over 5 years. While at Mayworks Festival, Nahed programmed exhibitions, talks, and screening by Toronto-based artists in various stages of their career; including both established artists/curators (i.e. Min Sook Lee, Karl Beveridge, Carol Conde, Wanda Nanibush, Elwood Jimmy, Louise Liliefeldt, Camille Turner, Rick Hill) and mid-career/ emerging artists (i.e. Brett Story, Alvis Choi, and Althea Balmes and Jo Simalya Alcampo).
Nahed’s active engagement with the arts community in Toronto and internationally includes formerly sitting on the boards of Pleasure Dome (2013- 2015), Toronto Free Gallery (2010-2013), and Fuse Magazine Editorial Board (2009-2014). She has been invited to speak on panels hosted by Ryerson Image Centre (2016), Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre (2016), Workers Arts Heritage Center (2015), Articule Gallery (2013), M:ST Festival (2012), among others. We are looking forward to the artistic direction and expertise that Nahed will bring to SAVAC.
SAVAC’s artistic programming strikes a fine balance of exhibiting established, mid-career, and emerging artists as well as art students. By exhibiting emerging artists’ work beside that of established artists’, SAVAC promotes and supports a new generation of artists to find a place within a consortium of art-making, and for them to be able to localize their practice within a variety of artistic fields. SAVAC’s upcoming programming will typically fall under three nodes:
- architectures / gentrification / construction of cities
- precarity / labour / class
- land / border / national histories
This vision encourages artistic work that reflects structural, communal, and global issues that critically examine marginalized peoples’ relationship to race, labour, and land. While the artistic vision is shaped by the Artistic Director, in terms of what works SAVAC will program, this vision has principally been shaped by a growing positive trend in the experimental, critical, and creative practice of local and national South Asian artists, and generally, artists of colour. We are seeing more works that may be informed by a specific identity (through various mediums, aesthetics, and techniques) as opposed to works about identity.
To carry out the shaping of our artistic vision SAVAC relies on old and new partnerships that we continue to sustain and develop. SAVAC almost exclusively works in collaboration with other artist-run centres, public galleries, and visual arts organizations to develop, present, fund, and support the exhibited work – especially given that we have operated without a gallery space for 20+ years. It is through these collaborations that SAVAC is able to expand the artistic fields of the host venues and offer their audiences exposure to contemporary South Asian and diasporic art.