Speaker Series

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents a wide range of public talks, lectures and speaker series by artists, curators, art historians, critics and collectors as springboards for understanding and appreciating the world of art and visual culture, for exchanging ideas and for debating issues, often relating to our current exhibitions. These events take many forms, ranging from traditional slide presentations to informal artists' talks in the galleries. They bring renowned scholars, critics and artists to Vancouver, setting local art and artists in an international framework and drawing together some of the brightest minds of our time.

For more information about upcoming programming, please visit the Calendar of Events page.


Gifts of Fringe header

Presented in dialogue with Moving Still: Performative Photography from India, this programming series further investigates key themes in the exhibition, including the history of photography in producing an image or representation of material such as gender, religion and sexual identity.

This programming series is an initiative of the Institute of Asian Art and presented in community partnership with the Capture Photography Festival, Indian Summer Festival and the Asia Art Archive.

In addition to the programs listed below, there will be an ongoing series of in-gallery activations and pop-up conversations taking place in the 3rd Floor Rotunda’s interpretive space throughout the months of June and July. Led by community organizations, these programs will allow visitors to explore, gather and discuss the themes in the exhibition Moving Still: Performative Photography from India.

Visionary Partner for Art Education:
Ji Ping Bai

APR 20
Room 4East
In the Gallery
Curators In Conversation:
Gayatri Sinha and Diana Freundl

Moving Still: Performative Photography in India

Beginning in the late 1850s, photographers in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras organized lectures and exhibitions, fostering an active culture of experimentation and exchange through the process of image-making that continues today. Join curators Diana Freundl and Gayatri Sinha as they discuss recent scholarship on Indian art and the importance of photography in nineteenth-century India to the present.

DIANA FREUNDL is Associate Curator, Asian Art, at the Vancouver Art Gallery. She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions including major retrospectives Lee Bull (2015)and Bharti Kher Matter (2016) and group exhibition Unscrolled: Reframing Tradition in Chinese Contemporary Art (2014). Recent exhibitions include Pacific Crossings: Hong Kong Artists in Vancouver, Howie Tsui: Retainers of Anarchy (2017) and 空/ Emptiness: Emily Carr and Lui Shou Kwan (2018).Freundl has been the curator of the Gallery’s public art space, Offsite, since 2013, and has presented several site-specific installations from artists including MadeIn Company, Reena Saini Kallat, Asim Waqif and others. Prior to joining the Vancouver Art Gallery, Freundl was living and working in mainland China and Taiwan from 1998 to 2013. She studied at the Tsinghua University of Art And Design in Beijing and has an academic background in comparative religion, philosophy and journalism.

GAYATRI SINHA is an art critic and curator whose primary areas of interest are gender and iconography, media, economics and social history. She has curated exhibitions extensively in India, Europe and the United States. Sinha is the founder and director of Critical Collective, an initiative to build knowledge of the visual arts in India. Sinha’s publications include Voices of Change: 20 Indian Artists (2010), Art and Visual Culture in India 1857–2007 (2009) and Indian Art: An Overview (2003), among others. She has lectured widely on Indian art, including at the Tate Modern, MoMA New York, Tate Britain, Arken Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, and the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi. She was the recipient of the 2017 Tate Research Centre Asia Visiting Fellowship.

Free for Members or with Gallery admission. Registration recommended.


Image credit: Maharaja Sawai Ram Singh II, Unidentified women of the zenana, c.1870, digital print from an original wet collodion glass plate negative, Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust.

APR 27
Room 4East
In the Gallery
Artist Talk:
Pushpamala N

Moving Still: Performative Photography in India

Join us for an afternoon artist talk with Pushpamala N. Born in Bangalore in 1956, Pushpamala N has been called “the most entertaining artist-iconoclast of contemporary Indian art.” As one of the pioneers of contemporary art in India, and a leading figure in the feminist critique, her work in conceptual photography, video and performance has had a deep influence on art practices in India. In her sharp and witty work as a photo- and video-performance artist, sculptor, writer, curator and provocateur, and in her collaborations with writers, theatre directors and filmmakers, she seeks to subvert the dominant cultural and intellectual discourse.

This event is presented in partnership with the Capture Photography Festival as part of the 2019 Capture Speaker Series.

Pushpamala N is known for her strongly feminist work and her rejection of claims to authenticity and grand narratives. Interested in history and the idea of cultural memory, she cites a wide range of references and simultaneously inhabits and questions familiar frames from art history, photography, film, theatre and popular culture, placing herself at the centre of social and political inquiry. Pushpamala N has exhibited widely in India and internationally, including at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai (2018); Singapore International Festival of the Arts (2015); Prospect 3, New Orleans (2015); National Museum, Delhi (2014); Seattle Art Museum (2014); Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt (2013) and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco (2011).

Free for Members or with Gallery admission. Registration recommended.


Image credit: Pushpamala N, Sunhere Sapne (Golden Dreams) , 1998, hand-tinted black and white photograph, Shumita and Arani Bose Collection, NY

MAY 15
ANNEX Theatre
823 Seymour Street
Heller Lecture:
Vivek Shraya

Moving Still: Performative Photography in India

Join artist, writer and musician Vivek Shraya for the annual Heller Lecture, where she will delve into how personal narrative relates to image-making, visibility, gender identity and cultural tradition. During her lecture, Shraya will move in and out of autobiography, song and storytelling as she shares recent bodies of work that provide a glimpse into her multi-faceted practice.

Shraya’s work centres around an expansive conceptualization of “gender,” cultural belonging and tradition. It also serves as an offering to anyone who has been misgendered, made to feel not feminine enough, or struggles to find home in a language that resists complexity.

The 2019 Heller Lecture is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Moving Still: Performative Photography in India, which features artists who participate in their own photo-narratives, positioning themselves at the centre of social and political inquiry.

Tickets: $35 Member | $40 General Admission


About the Artist

Vivek Shraya is an artist whose body of work crosses the boundaries of music, literature, visual art and film. Her best-selling new book, I’m Afraid of Men, was heralded by Vanity Fair as “cultural rocket fuel,” and her album with Queer Songbook Orchestra, Part-Time Woman, was included in CBC’s list of Best Canadian Albums of 2017. She is one half of the music duo Too Attached and the founder of the publishing imprint VS. Books. A Polaris Music Prize nominee and four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist, Vivek was a 2016 Pride Toronto Grand Marshal, was featured on The Globe and Mail’s Best Dressed list, and has received honours from The Writers’ Trust of Canada and The Publishing Triangle. She is currently a director on the board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Calgary.

About the Heller Lecture

The Heller Lecture has been one of the Vancouver Art Gallery’s most important public events since its inception in 2002. This program has enabled us to provide audiences with thought-provoking and engaging presentations by an impressive list of guest speakers, including American feminist artist Judy Chicago; renowned scholar of surrealism Dawn Ades; the Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Royal Collection Martin Clayton; celebrated historian and bestselling author Ross King; and Pulitzer Prize-winning comic artist Art Spiegelman, to name just a few.

Generously supported by Paul and Edwina Heller in memory of Kitty Heller.

This project is supported by

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