Touring SAVAC and Vtape

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And update from Amal Khurram, who is participating in the undergraduate Scholars in Residence Digital Collections lab in partnership with the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Scholars in Residence group pose in the SAVAC / Vtape archives. (L to R) Mac Stewart, Amal Khurram, Caleigh Inman, Saj Soomal (SAVAC), Alisha Krishna, Zohar Freeman, Cait McKinney.

Scholars in Residence group pose in the SAVAC / Vtape archives. (L to R) Mac Stewart, Amal Khurram, Caleigh Inman, Saj Soomal (SAVAC), Alisha Krishna, Zohar Freeman, Cait McKinney.

On May 17 our group went to visit the 401 Richmond building for a tour of the South Asian Visual Arts Centre (SAVAC) and Vtape. These organizations are central to two of the digital collections we have been working on. The Not a Place on the Map Desh Pardesh festival oral history project that Alisha Krishna and I are working on was produced by SAVAC. The gendertrash zine collection that Caleigh Inman, Mac Stewart, and Sid Cunnigham are making was edited by Mirha-Soleil Ross, whose video art is distributed by Vtape.

I thought it was interesting to see where the magic of community archiving really happens—this is where people on the ground are creating history for archives like CLGA. We were given the opportunity to leaf through some SAVAC materials that weren’t accessible to us at the CLGA, and it was interesting to spot some familiar names amongst the collected work.

Deirdre Logue introduces the Vtape archives to Zohar Freeman and Alisha Krishna.

Deirdre Logue introduces the Vtape archives to Zohar Freeman and Alisha Krishna.

The polished Desh Pardesh festival flyers and pamphlets that we got to look through were an interesting contrast from the unfiltered interview personas we have encountered through oral history interviews. Pamphlets and other promotional materials are the end product of several revisions by coordinators and funders, and they reflect broader politics and tensions behind putting on a large festival.

What we have in the interviews is everything but this and it’s interesting to see the contrasting elements of the Desh Pardesh festival. Seeing all these print documents related to the festival shows how much larger the world of the event was than it might seem from listening to interviews, decades down the line. Learning all this while standing in the vicinity of where it all went down was truly an experience.

Walking down the staircase in the 401 building’s outdoor courtyard.

Walking down the staircase in the 401 building’s outdoor courtyard.