How do you define South Asian?
South Asia contains varied linguistic, social and historical landscapes. Over the course of the last century, the subcontinent went from the hands of European colonisers (English, French, Dutch and Portuguese) and locally ruled princely states to form the current day independent nations of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, the Maldives and Tibet. While colonization by European nations significantly altered these regions, it is neither the beginning nor the end of their histories. Rather than being directed by the binaries of cultural “difference” or “sameness”, SAVAC seeks to look at South Asia as a polycultural space. The region has a shared history and culture in some parts; in many other ways it lacks coherent definition because it contains over 2000 identified ethnic groups who speak over 200 languages.
SAVAC maintains an open and inclusive definition of South Asian that is based in the complexities within the region itself, amongst the various diasporic communities in places like the Caribbean, Africa and South East Asia, and within diasporic populations in the South Asian region. Within the diaspora, notions of home and identity become as blurred and complicated as the concept of South Asia itself.
Given the complexity of South Asia, SAVAC is not limited by political boundaries drawn onto maps and resists the temptation of overdefining and being overdetermined by an a land mass whose borders have been persistently renegotiated. Instead, SAVAC prioritizes themes that relate to the historical and lived realities that South Asian people have encountered over time.
Is SAVAC a gallery?
No. SAVAC is an artist-run centre which operates without a gallery space and collaborates with other artist-run centres, public galleries, universities and museums for exhibitions.
What is an artist-run centre?
An artist-run centre is a non-profit organization started and managed by artists. Artist-run centres emphasize a non-commercial approach to operating by not charging admission fees and by remaining uninvolved with the sale of artwork. ARCs work with professional artists, with a focus on contemporary art. Exhibition programming is often complemented by public screenings, artist talks, panel discussions and publications.
Canada has a unique history of artist-run culture, which began in the 1960s. For more information please check out the following resources:
When did SAVAC change its name to South Asian Visual Arts Centre from South Asian Visual Arts Collective?
SAVAC formally changed its name from SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Collective) to SAVAC (South Asian Visual Arts Centre) in February 2008. The name change more accurately reflects the organization’s structure as an artist-run centre: including our membership, being under Board mandate and receiving operational funding.
Can SAVAC sell my artwork?
No. SAVAC is a non-profit artist-run centre, and we operate on a model that is not commercial.
Do I need to identify as South Asian to be a member?
No. SAVAC serves artists who come from various regions and localities in the world, not simply geopolitically-categorized South Asia. SAVAC encourages artists who touch on themes of political/personal, location/identity, assimilation/resistance, architecture/space, city/suburbs, and above all, transnationality as a historical and contemporary force that shapes each individual work and each individual artist.
SAVAC Members don’t necessarily produce work that is solely influenced by fixed entities such as the nations and geographical regions from which their ancestors hailed, or by the ones in which they were born. Similarly, they don’t necessarily adhere to circumscribed notions of “culture” within their own communities or in society at large. The strength and vibrancy of their art lays in the multitude of individual histories–journeys that destabilize, and interrogate fixed notions of culture and identity.
Can I pay for membership fees or publications by credit card?
Credit card payments can only be made online. The membership page, and individual program pages will have the appropriate links to pay online (where applicable). If you wish to pay for membership, a workshop, or a publication using cheque or cash please mail or drop off your payment in person.
What is Member News?
“Member News” is SAVAC’s monthly email newsletter, which includes information about SAVAC’s upcoming programming, member exhibitions and activities, calls for submissions and job opportunities. “Member News” is sent out around the 15th of each month. Members in good standing may send information about exhibitions or other activities, for inclusion in member news. If you are a member and are not receiving the newsletter, please contact us!