Go Home Yuppie Scum—Preston Buffalo

Apr 11 – Jun 6, 2024

Taking its title from graffiti that appeared on empty/sold Vancouver houses and lots in the 1980s as part of the local anti-gentrification movement, Go Home Yuppie Scum is an irreverent take on the “Welcome to Vancouver” View-Master reels popular in the 1960s to 1980s, which featured 3D images of Vancouver landmarks as a means of enticing tourists to visit. 

By making use of vintage View-Masters and modern stereoscopic viewers stationed around the interior of SUM gallery, Buffalo creates a series of stereoscopic reels that showcase the city from a very different perspective: crumbling, graffiti-adorned structures in the Downtown Eastside, disused rail lines, and thickets of overgrown flora, all eerily devoid of inhabitants. Buffalo applies infrared filters to much of his photographic work, transforming familiar Vancouver scenes into vibrant alien landscapes. The result is a series of urban snapshots that subvert the stereotypical “Beautiful British Columbia” postcard tropes by presenting quasi-dystopian scenes that are unsettling, otherworldly, and beautiful.

This exhibition is part of the 2024 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program.

Preston Buffalo, a Two-Spirited Cree artist originally from Treaty 6 Territory, currently resides in the unceded Coast Salish Territories of British Columbia. His interdisciplinary practice involves the exploration of personal Indigenous iconography and symbolism, utilizing photography, alternative photo processes, and digital illustration. Motivated by the challenges faced by Indigenous communities, Preston’s work touches upon themes such as mental health, cultural and linguistic loss due to displacement, the impact of the residential school system, and the process of assimilation. His overall objective is to create visual expressions that encourage new perspectives on Indigenous art, emphasizing its significance in contemporary society and its contribution to an ongoing dialogue.

A Generosity of Abundance—Valérie d. Walker and Jack Page

Feb 22 – Apr 5, 2024

As our community navigates a world of unprecedented environmental and political upheaval – all transpiring against the backdrop of a lingering pandemic –Transmedia Fibres-rooted artist and Indigo Griot Valérie d. Walker has responded by transforming SUM gallery into a sanctuary of Queer Joy: a place where “Queer reality is infused with self love and the power of environmental transformation.” Walker, whose work is shaped and informed by her African Diasporic, Scottish, Japanese, and Indigenous Hawaiian heritage, has envisioned A Generosity of Abundance as an immersive exploration of the restorative power of Water. Finding inspiration in the metaphysical transformations caused by traversing a Labyrinth, Walker’s large-scale indigo-dyed fibre pieces invite the viewer to explore and flow along an uninterrupted sensorial path towards meditative and therapeutic relief, much like water’s uncanny ability to seek out a path of least resistance; while fibre-art sculpture/installations create interior “indigo refuges”. 

In keeping with the spirit of Queer, joyous transformation, on March 16 the exhibition expands to include the work of Vancouver artist Jack Page, whose practice encompasses illustration, altered book art, papermaking, printmaking, photography, musical performance art, and Dis/Ability, Mad/Neurodiverse and 2SLGBTQIA+ community-based projects. His multimedia triptych, Flowers for MeToo, speaks to how all genders experience gender violence, especially trans and nonbinary people, using gold leaf to mark the healing body as divine and flowers as a form of healing and transforming trauma. Like Walker, who is well known for her enviro-conscious dye work, Page’s material art practice focuses on minimizing waste by incorporating used, natural, and foraged materials, and upcycling waste products, such as paper and medical waste.

Running from February 22 to April 5, A Generosity of Abundance spans two key events in the QTBIPOC calendar: Black History Month (February) and International Transgender Day of Visibility (March 31). To this end, the exhibition is punctuated by an opening reception on Thursday, February 22, from 6 – 8pm and a musical performance piece by Jack Page and guitarist Theo Blue on Saturday, March 16 at 2pm.

Join artist Valérie d. Walker for a discussion with April Sumter-Freitag and Addena Sumter-Freitag on Queer Black history in Vancouver.

Join us at SUM gallery on Saturday, March 9 at 2pm for Black Every Day of the Year: a special discussion panel featuring A Generosity of Abundance artists Valérie d. Walker, Addena Sumter-Freitag, and April Sumter-Freitag. As seventh- and eighth-generation Black Canadians, Addena and April Sumter-Freitag hold a special place in Canadian Queer Black art and history; with Walker, they will imagine, joyously laugh, celebrate Historical Black Strathcona, and create Afro-Futuristic visions that extend well beyond Black History Month. The afternoon includes a special screening of April Sumter-Freitag’s short film, Out, Black + Proud in BC, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.

A musical performance piece by Jack Page and guitarist Theo Blue, Flowers for MeToo speaks to how all genders experience gender violence.

Join us at SUM gallery on March 16 for a special musical performance by Jack Page and Theo Blue, marking the expansion of our exhibition, A Generosity of Abundance.

As we transition from Black History Month to International Transgender Day of Visibility, our duo exhibition featuring the work of Valérie d. Walker and Jack Page expands to include Page’s beautiful triptych, Flowers for MeToo. We celebrate the arrival of Jack’s work with an in-gallery performance of the song Flowers for MeToo, composed and performed by Jack, with his musical collaborator Theo Blue.

Be among the first to experience the final manifestation of our exhibition and hear this intensely personal performance by Page and Blue.

SD Holman’s Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving

Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving

A new photo-based exhibition by SD Holman
The exhibition runs Apr 1 – Jun 2, 2023
SUM gallery open to the public Tue-Sat, 12 to 6pm
Opening reception (artist in attendance): Apr 1, 5 to 7pm
Live musical performances from Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa: Apr 19 at 12pm, May 13 at 5pm, May 19 at 5pm, June 2 at 5pm

Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving is a new photo-based multidisciplinary meditation on mourning & memory by artist SD Holman, on view at SUM gallery April 1 to June 2. Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving (pilgrimage variations) derives from Holman’s walk across Canada following the death of their wife, Catherine White Holman. This exhibit engages artist and writer Persimmon Blackbridge, who works with words from Holman’s travel journal; and using Bach’s Goldberg Variations as an organizing principle, Holman collaborates with pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa, who performs at the opening and periodically during the exhibition run.

I needed to walk; walk out my door & keep walking. I don’t like walking. You died in a plane crash. I couldn’t make sense of it. I walked for 3 months / 2700 km. I took a little G11 (not my pro camera or 4×5). I made 8,000 images—99 videos—30,000 words. These are some of them.

There is no arc to this story. I did not come out of it healed.

We all grieve. I later learned that the grieving often go on walking pilgrimages. Walk. Breathe. Think. Don’t think. Circle. Repeat. Step. By step. Try to change the outcome as you move over unfamiliar terrain. Different and the same. No epic Canadian landscapes here, instead tiny human steps cycling endlessly in an intimate vista.

SD Holman

Variations are like a voyage. But … that voyage does not lead through the infinitude of the exterior world … The voyage of variations leads into the other infinitude, into the infinite diversity of the interior world hidden in all things … We know we cannot embrace the universe with its suns and stars. Much more unbearable is to be condemned to lack that other infinitude, that infinitude near at hand, within reach… we all lose in whatever we do, because if it is perfection we are after, we must go to the heart of the matter, and we can never quite reach it… there is nothing more unbearable than lacking the being we loved, those…measures and the interior world of their infinitude of possibilities. —

Milan Kundera

About SD Holman sdholman.com

SD Holman is an award-winning artist and curator born in Hollywood, California. Described as “visionary” by curator/scholar Jonathan Katz, Holman is a graduate of ECUAD Vancouver Canada, laureate of the YWCA Women of Distinction Award, and Founding Artistic Director Emeritus of the multidisciplinary QAF + SUM gallery. Defining as a participant observer employing subjective conceptual documentary practice, Holman’s approach to photography is conflicted and perverse. Holman’s work deals in paradox: the cognitive dissonance between estrangement and recognition, aversion and attraction, harshness and beauty, bravura and restraint, outrageousness and subtlety, expressionism and classicism. Holman embraces Indeterminacy to open artistic practice to the random and radically break from tradition, convention, and habit.

Holman’s work has exhibited internationally including at Wellesley College, Amherst College, CLGA ArQuives (Toronto), the Advocate Gallery (Los Angeles), the Soady-Campbell Gallery (New York), the San Francisco Public Library, On Main Gallery, The Helen Pitt International Gallery, Charles H. Scott, Exposure, Gallery Gachet, the Roundhouse, Vancouver East Cultural Centre, Artropolis, and Fotobase Galleries (Vancouver). Holman’s portrait project BUTCH: Not like the other girls toured North America and is in its second print edition, published by Caitlin Press, Dagger Editions. Studio Q, Holman’s notorious DTES Art Salon in Vancouver’s Chinatown, was featured in Secrets of the City (1st edition).

About Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa iwaasa.com

Hailed in the press as a “keyboard virtuoso and avant-garde muse” (Georgia Straight) whose “emotional intensity” transforms music “from notes on a page to a stunning work of art” (Victoria Times Colonist), RACHEL KIYO IWAASA is recognized among Canada’s foremost contemporary music pianists. Rachel’s reputation for fearless performative risk has drawn many of Canada’s most notable composers to write for her, including Hildegard Westerkamp, Rodney Sharman, Jocelyn Morlock, Nicole Lizée, Farshid Samandari, Emily Doolittle, Jeffrey Ryan and Jordan Nobles. One half of the acclaimed contemporary flute/piano duo Tiresias with Mark Takeshi McGregor, Rachel has also performed with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Judith Forst, the Bozzini Quartet, Heather Pawsey, Gabriel Kahane, Caroline Shaw, and Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire. Rachel’s debut CD, Cosmophony, has been praised as “brilliant” and “unforgettable” (Vancouver Sun) and for “the passion, intensity and the nuanced playing she’s acclaimed for… she manages to instill a sense of dynamic tension and pull to every note” (The Province).

Read the press release for Pas-à-pas; not intent on arriving.


SUM gallery
co-presented in partnership with Vancouver Queer Film Festival
Opening reception: Sat, Aug 13, 7 to 10pm
Installation runs Aug 16 to 20, 12 to 6pm. Daily drop-in zine workshops from 3 to 6pm.

MOTORBIKE/SUPERDYKE is a collaborative multimedia installation by Cheryl Hamilton and lisa g, based on lisa g’s diaries about coming out and sorting through queer stereotypes circa 2000. Illustrations, art prints, an animated film and a zine echo a time and place and reflect upon personal identity politics.

MOTORBIKE/SUPERDYKE animated film trailer

Cheryl Hamilton is a conceptual artist with a penchant for visual ingenuity. She imbues her artwork with a kineticism inspired by her education as an animator at Vancouver’s Emily Carr Institute. She enjoys the process of collaboration and experimentation and tries to remain flexible in approaching mediums preferring the concept to dictate the ingredients. Although Cheryl has been working as a large-scale sculptor (blown glass, stainless steel, cast bronze) she has continually returned to the medium of drawing and painting as it serves as the backbone of her art practice.

lisa g is an artist/filmmaker living on the unceded and stolen territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. They are interested in work that has historical reference, social relevance & where possible, humour. They work independently, with other artists and within communities. lisa g is a founding member of Vancouver’s Iris Film Collective, which promotes the creation and sharing of analog film and they are the producer/mentor of Our World  which supports the creation of Indigenous self directed short films. lisa g’s work screens internationally and has won awards.

Don Kwan: Beyond Exclusion

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall St., Vancouver

Beyond Exclusion is Don Kwan’s first solo exhibition in Vancouver. Based in Ottawa, Kwan is a queer third-generation Chinese Canadian artist whose work is influenced by his upbringing in a family-owned restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown. He uses mixed media, found objects, and sourced personal text and photographs to explore questions of identity, belonging, and place, reflecting on his family history while weaving intriguing stories about the Chinese Canadian diaspora.

Beyond Exclusion brings together Kwan’s diverse body of work along with new site-specific installations. 

Don Kwan: Beyond Exclusion is presented by SUM gallery in collaboration with On Main Gallery and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The exhibition is curated by Debbie Cheung, Mark Takeshi McGregor, and Paul Wong. Don Kwan: Beyond Exclusion is generously funded by the BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, and Deux Mille Foundation. 


What can belonging look like? A third-generation Chinese Canadian, Don Kwan turns to his own experiences and challenges of being a gay, East Asian artist as a way to ground in broader conversations about identity, representations, and intergenerational memory-making in the diaspora. 

关日安是一位第三代华裔加拿大同性恋画家。他的作品探索历史长河中的家庭记忆、象征、身份 及地点.

Pride in Chinatown

July 24-30, 2022

Founded by On Main’s Artist Director, Paul Wong and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, Pride in Chinatown is the first public celebration of queer pan-Asian Canadian art in Vancouver’s Chinatown. What began as a small, one-day event in 2018, has grown tremendously over the years. For the first time in 2022, On Main is expanding Pride in Chinatown into a multi-day festival, presented in partnership with the Queer Arts Festival + SUM gallery! To find out more about Pride in Chinatown, visit www.prideinchinatown.com.

Pride in Chinatown events:

Jul 24, 12 to 3pm: Dim Sum Brunch
Floata Seafood Restaurant, 180 Keefer St., Vancouver
Regular admission tickets: $55 + tax and fees

Celebrate Pride with an all-age friendly arts and culinary event in Chinatown!

Hosted by the legendary China Doll, the Pride in Chinatown Dim Sum Brunch is a unique cultural experience that celebrates LGBTQ+ families and legacy businesses in Chinatown. A curated selection of piping-hot dim sum will be served alongside a lineup of delightful performances:

  • Immerse yourself in China Doll’s queer diasporic humor! A beloved Ottawa icon, China Doll is famous for hosting drag karaoke and bingo in flamboyant costumes and over-the-top wigs at her family’s Shanghai Restaurant.
  • Learn about the culture of dim sum from William Liu, owner of the family-run Kam Wai Dim Sum in Vancouver’s Chinatown. He will walk you through the art of enjoying “morsels of the heart” and perform Chinese and English opera.
  • Sample Pu-erh prepared by tea master Olivia Cheung from the Treasure Green Tea Company in Vancouver’s Chinatown. She will take you on a journey to Yunnan, China, where the best Pu-erh is produced.
  • Stand in solidarity with the Asian LGBTQ+ community through spoken-word artist Lyle Chan’s heartfelt poetry readings.
  • PLUS 50/50 draw!

Each ticket includes tea, two dim sum dishes, entertainment, and gratuity. Tables are available for groups of six and eight, with a limited number of tables available for groups of four. A party of fewer than four people will be seated at a larger table with other small groups.

Additional food and alcoholic beverages can be purchased from the restaurant. Doors will open at 12pm, and food will be served from 12:30–1:00pm.

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall St., Vancouver
Free opening reception Tickets: July 28, 5:00–8:00pm

Beyond Exclusion is Don Kwan’s first solo exhibition in Vancouver. Based in Ottawa, Kwan is a queer third-generation Chinese Canadian artist whose work is influenced by his upbringing in a family-owned restaurant in Ottawa’s Chinatown. He uses mixed media, found objects, and sourced personal text and photographs to explore questions of identity, belonging, and place, reflecting on his family history while weaving intriguing stories about the Chinese Canadian diaspora.

Beyond Exclusion brings together Kwan’s diverse body of work along with new site-specific installations. In the exhibition opening on July 28, Kwan will perform Altering the Flow of Exclusion to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his grandfather’s arrival in Canada from China through the port of Vancouver to Ottawa. Kwan’s brother, Edward, will host the opening as Ottawa’s legendary drag queen China Doll.

Don Kwan: Beyond Exclusion is presented by the Pride in Art Society (SUM Gallery) in collaboration with On Main Gallery and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden as part of the Pride in Chinatown festival. The exhibition is curated by Debbie Cheung, Mark Takeshi McGregor, and Paul Wong. Don Kwan: Beyond Exclusion is generously funded by the BC Arts Council, City of Vancouver, and Deux Mille Foundation. 

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, 578 Carrall St., Vancouver
Regular admission TICKETS: $42 + tax and fees
At door (limited quantity): $48 + tax and fees

Pride in Chinatown’s signature garden party returns with a splash of neon, featuring some of the best pan-Asian LGBTQ+ artists and their allies.

Enjoy a magical evening with a wide range of performances, art installations, and immersive experiences in the beautiful Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, park, and courtyard. Harkening back to when Chinatown was aglow with neon signs, you’re invited to interpret the theme “Neon Night” through your personal style and artistic expression.

Featured artists and activities:
• Land acknowledgment by Quanah Style
• Karaoke Lounge hosted by Ottawa icon China Doll
• Music by DJs Normie Corp and Nancy Lee, a.k.a Which Nancy
• Drag performances by Kara Juku, Maiden China, and Jolene Sloan
• The Zen Den body art by Romeo Reyes
• Poetry reading and installation by Lyle Chan
• Be Like Sound installation by Paul Wong
• Exhibition tours of Don Kwan: Beyond Exclusion
• Site decor by Link Leisure and David Robinson
• Food market featuring Boba Run, DD Mau, and Dicky’s Dump
• PIC Popup store featuring products made by local Asian LGBTQ+ artists and allies

Neon Night Garden Party takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) peoples. It is produced and presented by On Main Gallery in partnership with Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden and Pride in Art Society (Queer Arts Festival/SUM Gallery).

Vanishing Act at Centre A: Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

Jul 2 – Sep 1, 2022
Centre A: Unit 205, 268 Keefer St.
Gallery hours: Wed-Sat, 12 to 6pm

The extension to QAF 2022: Hauntings curated visual art exhibition, Vanishing Act, curated by Adwait Singh under creative director SD Holman, will continue at Centre A until Sep 1, 2022.

Centre A will be hosting works by Areez KatkiShahana RajaniRenuka RajivBassem SaadSyma Tariq and Sita Balani, and Omer Wasim in the gallery.

The exhibition’s curator, Adwait Singh, asks viewers to “behold the hulking vessel of modernity, where the only hope for a future is a ghostly one, the only inheritance a poisoned gift” and “to face our own Frankensteins, in a manner that queers have long been wont, haunted as we are by spectral toxicities.”

“I spy with my little eye a lumbering vessel—deemed too large to fail—bleeding foul plumes across the sea. For those doomed to touch life through this ooze, the only hope for a future appears to be a ghostly one; their only inheritance being a poisoned gift. The 14th edition of the Queer Arts Festival scrutinizes the patriarchal paradigms of possession as the foremost commissioners and distributors of toxicity, uncovering the processes through which they cover their own tracks. We know this to be true of administrations that made out AIDS to be a specifically gay problem with their poorly-concealed intent to police queerness; exonerating themselves of any culpability in catalyzing the epidemic through their own colonial exploits. Once again with COVID-19 we witness the consolidation of monopolistic interests, immunological schemes, and exceptional power under the cover of public health and biovigilance, in a manner that eschews any inquiries about etiology, keeping the public eye blinkered on the exigency.

“The rapid spread of alienation, dissonance, and precarity that is second nature to queers to the hitherto immunized sections of society, expands the field of queer gravity. Put otherwise, as alienation grows universal, the universe grows queer. The rampant feeling of social insecurity and political despondency is further compounded by the viral signification that literally translates care as isolation, making us look askance at our bodies as vectors of contagion. Unlike the selective localization of the human immunodeficiency virus in the bodies of queer men then, the novel coronavirus has somewhat democratized the feeling of vulnerability, revealing our bodies as deserving of curative care, not castigation. Might the looming precarity acuminated by COVID-19’s indiscriminate affliction finally succeed in seeking out a belated acknowledgement of the grave injury dealt to our predecessors who were selectively targeted, unjustly villainized, and left to die? Sometimes it takes a second viral visitation to appease the ghosts left in the wake of the first.

“This sets the stage for a mutational politics that seeks to resist neo-colonial techniques of exposure and their controlled replication of the status quo. It has become amply manifest that any bid to abject the viral through a program of differential immunisation not only redoubles its virulence, but breeds other forms of corruption. Perhaps it is time then for this ghost-making-machine-of-a-world to face its own Frankensteins, as queers have long been wont to, haunted as we remain by these toxic spectralities. In more ways than one, the AIDS crisis set the tone for what has been an unfolding revelation of queer existence as a catastrophic, even indulgent co-becoming with the viral while maintaining an overall indigestibility in relation to the devouring milieu. The existential slime that we have to wade through daily, engenders mutations discernable through a symptomology of non-institutionalised forms of virtuosity, counter-productive preoccupations, self-sabotage, impossible relationships, trans-temporal collusions, acting-outs, misshapen kinships, and uncanny ways of being and wording.

“Vanishing Act divulges scenarios of queer toxic remediation and apocalyptic negotiations from South Asia and its diasporic beyond. Through affective and subjectivating communes with spectres of saints, sinners, and snow, visions of queer futures are cast beyond notions of re/productivity and in terms that uphold virtuosity, transience and mutability. Steering the term apocalypse closer to its Greek connotations of a critical revelation, the exhibition proposes a queer incorporation and containment of toxicity as a moral and political imperative during imperilled times.” (Adwait Singh)

Artworks Exhibiting at Centre A:

Renuka Rajiv – ghosts in the backseat/exile in the corner (2022), fabric, thread, and buttons, 126 cm x 57 cm each

Bangalore-based Renuka Rajiv has had an interest in making things since childhood, exploring drawing, paper mache, tie-dye, and stitching. They studied digital video production at Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (with Honours) majoring in printmaking at Victorian College of Art, Melbourne. Since then, their work has reconnected with their childhood interests of playing with fabric and paper. Most themes and content in their work are personal, which includes the compulsion towards the hand-made. Their work inhabits a space that accommodates the imaginative, observational and autobiographical. 

Since 2013, Rajiv has been exploring appliqué and embroidery as a medium for image-making across different bodies of work. Process is a catalyst for ideation in Renuka’s practice with several impulses cohabiting often within one work. These include diaristic jottings, their fondness for non-human animals, patterns and abstraction, text, physicality, and sexuality. They are interested in the act of layering, which operates both as a record of time as well as allowing for loose proximities. The work is a composite of various triggers and sparks. Their inquiry aims to develop both directness and abstraction in what is private and personal.

Omer Wasim – Surrender (2018-2022), photographic prints, hanging mechanism, meat hooks, shirts, sheer curtain, concrete planter, stinging nettle, soil, water, growth light, and mirror, dimensions variable

Omer Wasim (b. 1988, Karachi) is an intermedial artist whose practice queers space, subverting the frames of development and progress that shape human relationships to the city and nature. His work bears witness to the relentless erasure, violence, and destruction of our times by staying with insurgent bodies. 

Wasim’s practice and the ways in which he works are often in-flux, moving across media, including installation, sculpture, drawing, video, photography, and audio. Informed by lived experiences, botanical life forms, and queer kinship, he traces and remembers, gathers and writes, converses and collaborates to generate works that are topical and rooted, yet pervading through them is an echo of silence, which allows them to be grouped and read in multiple ways—and each time they are shown, they morph with space, time, and context. His research turns to human and more-than-human witnesses to extend the possibility of bearing witness at a time when the state is intent on erasing and annihilating life forms that are not aligned with its narrative of progress and development.

Referencing devotional spaces of worship that sit amidst environmental degradation, and relentless extraction, Surrender makes accessible the practice of drawing strength from within to challenge the state project of erasure. It treats as sacred the building elements of all life forms. Air, water, and soil are repeatedly invoked: literally, and as traces and spectres, refusing to disappear.

Karachi, a city of more than 24 million people, is perpetually in flux, blanketed in a toxic embrace of greed and development. Besieged by the military and developers, its coastline is being progressively pushed out; its historic and divine flows contaminated and concretized. In its wake lies disappearance, dispossession, and displacement.

Sufi shrines have historically been a place of devotion, refuge, and connection; where the dead permeate the realm of living, where all life forms are treated as sacred, where the presence of trees and the earth attest to the divine rhythms of life. With rapid urbanization and militarization, however, they meet a similar fate, and are defaced, barricaded, and regulated.

Despite new and evolving mechanisms of violence and control, thousands of believers throng such spaces daily, contesting these very mechanisms, challenging the state project of erasure and assimilation. In ecstasy and acts of devotion, believers surrender, tuning into the rhythms of the earth, air, and water; seeking balance from within. These devotional acts are not a withdrawal from everyday political encounters with the state, but a form of attunement, of inhabiting bodies and desires fully, of resistance to enforced disappearances, and of reckoning with environmental toxicity and imbalance.

Shahana Rajani – A cipher for the missing (2022), 4K video, 7:30 minutes

Shahana Rajani is an artist based in Karachi. Her work and research explore the emerging visualities and infrastructures of development and militarization in Pakistan using multidisciplinary methods and media. She is interested in tracing colonial regimes of visuality, and the ways in which its violence continues to unfold around us. Together with Zahra Malkani she is the co-founder of Karachi LaJamia, a nomadic space moving outside the institution to occupy public spaces in the city as sites of study, and to explore radical pedagogies and art practices. Karachi LaJamia’s sessions are site-specific and work closely with multiple organizations and activists to build solidarity and alliances with ongoing struggles in the city. 

This video work explores the Baloch practice of massad in Karachi, Pakistan, whereby the date palm tree is invoked to help locate the missing. In this practice, dating back to Bibi Fatima the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, and passed down generationally by women, the tree grants access to knowledge of the unseen – past, present, future and all things hidden. Massad, meaning message or means of connection in Balochi, locates the date palm as key in a web of relationality linking wind, water, earth, human and more-than-human beings to the all-knowing realm of the divine.

At a time when the military-state seeks to render all beings visible through surveillance technologies, while disappearing those it deems threatening, massad emerges as a queer practice of recovery that centres alternate forms of relationality, connection and intimacy in a more-than-human world; a cipher made of leaves that renders the military’s disappearance tactics legible to the very communities that bear the brunt of its violence.

 In Karachi, the date palm also features as the main emblem of the paramilitary. Worn on uniforms and painted on watchtowers and walls across the city, this colonial emblem is a testament to the military conquest and disciplining of Sindh’s ‘unruly’ desert landscapes; a remnant of the violent reordering of natural ecologies as places to see and be seen. In exploring the tensions between the appropriation of this tree as a symbol of military power, and the tree’s material participation in native cosmologies, the work asks what it means for plants and people to belong together to a place, questioning the vigilantly patrolled boundaries that construe humans as separate from the rest of the world.

Areez Katki – Oneiria: Night 1 – Night 5 (2022), cotton embroidery on khadi towel, 136 cm x 72 cm each & Fragments 1 – 5 (2022), cotton embroidery on khadi handkerchief, dimensions variable

Areez Katki’s practice dwells between textual and material-based intersections, where the phenomenology of a postcolonial identity is examined through modalities of (de)languaging and (re)framing cultural affects. A fragmentation of memory is evident throughout the migratory experience and tends to expose myriad themes, from spiritual cosmologies to its queering trajectories. These affects elucidate the notion of hybridity as a condition for identities that have been historically subject to rupture.

Questions that illuminate the political significance of materiality emerge from spaces, often domestic, that Katki dwells between. Personal and familial artifacts that were once consumed are now restored to be recontextualized through the ecological, aesthetic and cultural slippages of ancient Zoroastrian knowledge systems. Ongoing investigations into plurality manifest in Katki’s spatial interventions and installations, which frame the lived experience through reclaimed and found materials. These delicate textualities are embalmed with traditional processes of mark-making—embroidery, weaving, printmaking, staining—that destabilize the expressionistic hierarchies established by a dominant culture.

The materials explored and preserved throughout his practice also convey Katki’s ongoing engagements with storied narratives, using biomythographic threads that entwine the historic and the personal through poetic means. These gestures suggest a blurring of metaphysical dualities, while also surveying the nature of (our) relationships between sites and embodiments.

Bassem Saad – Kink Retrograde (2019), HD video, 19 minutes 

Bassem Saad is an artist and writer, born in Beirut on September 11. His work explores historical rupture, infrastructure, and spontaneity, through film, performance, sculpture, and writing. Bassem’s solo and collaborative work has been presented and screened at MoMA, CPH:DOX, Transmediale, Architectural Association, Harvard University VES, and Alserkal Avenue (Dubai). His writing appears in Jadaliyya, FailedArchitecture, and The Funambulist. He was a fellow at Eyebeam, Leslie Lohman Museum, and Ashkal Alwan’s Home Workspace Program. He is currently a fellow at the Berlin Program for Artists.

Kink Retrograde presents a speculative allegory whose protagonists live in a world presided over by shocks that come to resemble the apparent retrograde motion of celestial bodies: cyclical and seemingly backwards moving. The intoxicated characters decide that the social contract between themselves and the sovereign powers has always been breached, and so they must devise a new and transparent contract aware of its own abjectness, risk, and deviance — one of total kink.

The film was shot inside an active seaside landfill on the outskirts of Beirut, created in the aftermath of the waste crisis which saw an uptick in makeshift, profit-driven infrastructural development and space-making. It combines text, voice-over, shot footage, and digital effects to project onto the existing landscape an imagined mode of assembly. It posits ‘kink’ as a political praxis that acknowledges the latent and explicit violence of the state, the voiding of the social contract, and the necessity of risk-aware action in the context of political and environmental toxicity.

Syma Tariq and Sita Balani – both/and (2022), audio voice notes, 23:04 minutes

Syma Tariq is currently completing her Ph.D. at the centre for Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice, University of the Arts London. Her research approaches the 1947 partition of British India as a sonic condition. She engages in various types of work otherwise, including writing, editing, recording, DJing and sound production and curation.

Sita Balani is a writer and teacher living in London. She is the co-author of Empire’s Endgame: Racism and the British State (Pluto Books, 2021). Her book Deadly and Slick: The Sexual Life of Race in Britain is forthcoming with Verso in 2023. She has published in Open Democracy, Vice, Novara Media, Five Dials, and The White Review.

“This conversation [work] encompasses a series of voice notes exchanged over a few weeks in spring 2022, in quiet moments between sending emails, packing boxes, doing laundry, reading articles, meeting deadlines and dealing with the ongoing health issues of loved ones. We tried to speak of difficult things, of grief, mass death, violence, neglect, of things bigger, more urgent, and more immediate than queer identity. But nonetheless, queerness is in here, part of how we were made, how we came to know each other, and how we understand the worlds in which we find ourselves. 

“As we exchanged the final voice notes in this series, the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqla was shot and killed while covering an Israeli military raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the Occupied West Bank. News of her death reverberated across social media and into the streets, as vigils were held around the world in her honour. As Palestinians gathered for her funeral in Jerusalem, the Israeli police descended, beating mourners with batons, attacking pallbearers, and almost causing her coffin to hit the ground. Watching the footage of her funeral, the reach of state violence became painfully clear – even the dead are not free of it.

“We speak here of silence and of voice – implicit is the essential role of witness, of presence, of refusing to avert our eyes or cover our ears, of trying not to turn away.”

Centipede—Flavourcel Animation Collective

Pop Up Exhibition | Apr 7 – 9 | Open Hours 12 – 6 pm
Closing Reception |
Sat Apr 9 | 3 – 5 pm | ASL

Located on the Lower Ground Floor of Sun Wah Centre, 060-268 Keefer St. Please note that unlike many of our events, this exhibition does not take place in our SUM gallery space on the fourth floor of the Sun Wah Centre.

SUM gallery and the Flavourcel Animation Collective invite you crawl down into the dark depths of the basement for Centipede—a pop-up exhibition of macabre experimental animation on the Lower Ground Level of the Sun Wah Centre. Challenging conventional notions of the medium, Centipede queers the drawn moving image through multi-media installation, 3D projection, and sound experimentation into a haunted cavalcade of ghouls, guts, creepies, and crawlies. Curated by Queer Arts Festival’s Assistant Curator Benjamin Siegl.

Flavourcel is an animation collective of 10 artists based in the Unceded Coast Salish territories. They work collaboratively to make short-form experimental animations that entertain the contemporary narrative of what animation is, and can be. This includes GIFs, music videos, installations, print media, and more. They are heavily settled in collective decision-making structures and aim to keep the collaborative spirit at the core of what they do. In other words; democratizing resources and prioritizing voices that are not so often heard. 

Many of us are institutionally-trained animators, however we felt that the path often laid out for many emerging animators exists in the following binary: to be an independent auteur making animations alone in your basement or to join the animation industry. Both of these routes were limiting in their own ways. We feel that it is important to re-introduce play into animation; the act of making doesn’t have to be so serious or so solitary, it’s always better when you bring your friends along!

Curator Benjamin Siegl is a multidisciplinary artist and curator, having experience in textiles, graphic design, public murals, animation, painting, illustration, education and arts administration. Recent endeavours include research in the field of queer experimental animation and a strong focus on advocacy for the LGBTQ2S+ artistic community through work with the Pride in Art Society.

Read the press release for Centipede.

Sovereignty—Duane Isaac

Feb 17 – May 14, 2022

This exhibition is open to view during our regular gallery hours: Tue-Sat, 12 to 6pm

SD Holman

Sovereignty is Mi’gmaq photographer and mask-maker Duane Isaac’s first solo exhibition in Vancouver. The mixed-media photographic installation explores an Indigenous body in nature outfitted with a fantastical mask—one side overgrown with fledgling greenery while the other half conjures a ghost of the human face beneath. The figure is overtaken by flames, mask first. Motivated by the health and survival of Indigenous bodies and Indigenous Lands, Isaac casts his model as a vessel of sovereignty under threat; “Sovereignty explores the questions of autonomy and health of both body and Land. The health of the Land will reflect the health of the body and the health of the body will reflect the health of the Land. One cannot survive without the other.” The figure’s mask embodies this nonduality, representing Indigenous identity as equal to and inseparable from the Land. In this installation, four masks gaze out from the centre of the gallery, standing sentinel to the four directions.

Isaac’s artistic practice traces the ephemeral, hand-crafting surreal and otherworldly masks solely for his portraiture, then heightening their narrative presence through lighting and digital manipulation. Ranging from darkly demure to expressively gaudy, his masks are opulent, clever, twisted, unsettling, sexy, and unquestionably queer. His lens seeks a balanced relationship between body and mind, where masks externalize a rich internal world populated by grotesque and seductive creatures, guided by Indigenous ways of knowing, the queer gaze, environmental angst, and an apocalyptic perspective on the past and future.

Balance is less easily found in Sovereignty—the final tableau, a portrait of absence where the figure’s red garment lies amongst the undergrowth, poses many-layered questions. Has the garment been shed by the Body, or donned by the Land? Where does the one end and the other begin? Sovereignty is so hot! Are we witness to immolation or ignition?

This exhibition is part of the 2022 Capture Photography Festival Selected Exhibition Program.

Duane Isaac is a First Nation Mi’gmaq from Listuguj, QC. He is a contemporary artist who uses the photography medium in combination with his mask making. His work has been featured in multiple online publications, most recently Canadian Art Magazine. He currently resides in Listuguj, QC.

Watch our Sovereignty artist talk with Duane Isaac and curator SD Holman, originally screened as part of our Sovereignty cinq à sept on Apr 9. This talk is presented as part of the 2022 Capture Photography Festival Special Exhibition Program.

Read the press release for Sovereignty.

Gathering of Wishes and 1000 Paper Butterflies

Workshop and Artist Residency: Gathering of Wishes and 1000 Paper Butterflies
With Eva Wong & Naoko Fukumaru
SUM gallery

Did you miss our workshops? Drop in anytime during our artist residency to make a butterfly with Eva & Naoko:
Drop-in Oct 14 – 26 | Tue – Sat | 12 – 5:30pm

Sat, Sep 25 at 2pm
Thu, Oct 7 at 6:30pm
Sat, Oct 9 at 2pm
Please register for these workshops through the Eventbrite widget below.

Origami butterflies. A thousand of them. And we’re going to make them all! Eva Wong and Naoko Fukumaru will lead a series of in-person Origami workshops with the goal of making one thousand butterflies for their exhibition, Mass Reincarnation of Wish Fragments, opening Oct 28 at SUM gallery. Guests are also invited to write down their wishes, which will be folded into each Origami butterfly.

Can’t make one of the three scheduled workshops? Eva Wong invites drop-ins at SUM gallery, Tue to Sat, between noon and 5:30pm, beginning Oct 14. Not in Vancouver? You’re also welcome to mail your butterflies and wishes to us! Not handy with Origami, but still want to be involved? We’ll accept just your written wishes, either in person, by mail, or submitted online here—they will be added to a butterfly and will be part of the final installation.

We would like to collect as many wishes as possible by Oct 12.
All Origami butterflies must be received by Oct 26.
Origami butterflies and wishes may be dropped off at or mailed to: SUM gallery, 268 Keefer St #425, Vancouver, BC V6A 1X5.

From the Queer Arts Festival Workshop: Wed Aug. 4, 2021