Sharla Sava

Sharla Sava is a writer and university educator. She has lectured, curated exhibitions, and published a variety of articles about art after modernism, discussing the work of Robert Filliou, Antonia Hirsch, Ray Johnson, N.E. Thing Co., and Jeff Wall, among others. She completed her PhD at SFU in 2006 and is currently Assistant Professor at York University.


  • Newsworks

    May 26–June 23, 2007

    Robyn Laba’s practice investigates the weight of materiality, labour and information. Often referencing modernist markers and tropes through humourously employed everyday materials, Laba’s past works include large-scale monochromes constructed from woven, deflated balloons and a project that explored the faculties of thinking and judging in the work of political theorist/philosopher Hannah Arendt. Newsworks, her new work for Artspeak, considers the accumulation and almost immediate obsolescence of matter and information via newspapers. Her stacked and swirled column of discoloured and out-of-date newspapers references the cylindrical form and potential violence of a tornado. Like an upended tower of Babel, Newsworks presents newspapers as simultaneously disposable and enduring cultural objects. The newspaper form is threatened with obsolescence by television and the Internet and its information is almost immediately obsolete as it gets replaced the next day. However, its materiality (and perhaps its content) persists; it remains an object in the world and in this case, a building block for a potential Tatlin-esque edifice.

    Invoking the authority of the monument through its sheer mass and volume, the reading of Newsworks is complicated by the fleetingness of the material. Newsworks’ swirling stack is unstable in construction, like the paper itself and the questionable facts it provides. Its daunting scale points to the pressure to assimilate volumes of information in order to judge and act in the world. Antithetical to the permanence of the cenotaph or memorial, the newspapers and their form literally turn the monument on its head. Together, the work’s conceptual and physical references, its instability and scale, draw out discussions of sensory knowledge versus mediated knowledge. The use of newspapers references the potential of a so-called democratic medium, its mass production and its popular appeal. Part sculpture/architecture and part collage, Newsworks instigate discussions around information dissemination and manipulation. In the face of knowledge “overload,” Laba’s work examines the desire to synthesize the sheer magnitude of information in the world while recognizing that it is fleeting.

    Postscript 28: Sharla Sava on Newsworks (PDF)

  • PaintinggnitniaP

    December 11–January 30, 1999

    PaintinggnitniaP features an installation of new work by Vancouver artist Charles Rea, exploring the social and psychological implications of different institutional interiors. The mirroring and optical aspects in his paintings recall binary systems of vision and perception and the psychological uses of Rorschach images (mirrored ink blots). The institutional interiors he represents are perspectival and suggest spaces of science, knowledge and capitalism. These spaces include, amongst others, hospitals, libraries, schools and banks; spaces traditionally built, controlled and occupied by men. Although, the architectural spaces Rea represents are absent of people, they allude to the presence of a male body.

    PaintinggnitniaP is the last in a series of three exhibitions dealing with architectural space and the body. The work in these solo exhibitions explore domestic and institutional space, revealing aspects of social organization and control found within these genedered systems. A publication discussing the work in this series, with essays by Lucy Hogg and Sharla Sava, will be released on the opening night of this exhibition.

  • Felt Histories

    October 24–December 5, 1998

    Felt Histories features a computer interactive sound and video installation by Thecla Schiphorst. The proximity and touch of the viewer directs the interaction of the piece, disturbing the viewer/object relationship that is traditionally experienced in a gallery space. The site of interaction is a door frame, situated at the far end of the gallery. Within the frame, the image of a mature woman waits silently, her back to the gallery visitor. The silence in the room is echoed in the stillness of the image, and can be broken only through the visitor’s interaction at the threshold of the door frame. The door frame serves as an architectural device and reference by which our bodies are measured and contained, while the proximity and touch sensitive surface operates as a boundary and portal between public and private spaces. Schiphorst employs new technologies and architectural devices to critique ideas of embodiment and to examine spaces which have been historically determined as private and feminine.

    Felt Histories is the second in a series of three exhibitions dealing with architectural space and the body. Using computer-based technology and representations of the body, the works in these solo exhibitions will explore domestic and institutional space, revealing aspects of social organization and control found within these gendered systems. A publication discussing these works will be released in December 1998, with essays by Lucy Hogg and Sharla Sava.

Talks & Events

  • Vancouver Art & Economies Book Launch

    March 28, 2007

    Wednesday, March 28, 7-9pm

    At the Brickhouse, 730 Main Street

    Please join Artspeak and Arsenal Pulp Press in celebrating the release of Vancouver Art & Economies, edited by Melanie O’Brian, with essays by Clint Burnham, Randy Lee Cutler, Tim Lee, Sadira Rodrigues, Marina Roy, Sharla Sava, Reid Shier, Shepherd Steiner and Michael Turner.

    Vancouver Art & Economies was financially supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the BC Arts Council, the City of Vancouver, Arts Now: Legacies Now 2010, the Spirit of BC Arts Fund and the Hamber Foundation.

  • Vancouver Art & Economies: A Forum

    October 6–November 3, 2005

    Vancouver Art and Economies is a forum for critical dialogue on Vancouver’s contemporary art practices in the face of globalization and a remarkable recent history. Academics, artists, curators and writers will speak at Emily Carr Institute over the course of five evenings in the fall of 2005. The speakers will consider Vancouver art and its institutions over the last two decades in particular, remarking on the economies at work. whether global, institutional or market. Addressing a perceived professionalization of the institution of art, the talks will collectively consider Vancouver’s position within local, national and international art economies. The forum talks will be published in an anthology in 2006.

    Thursday, October 6

    Sharla Sava: The Political Culture of the Counter-Tradition in Vancouver Art

    Clint Burnham: Imperial Art: the Vancouver School in the age of Empire

    Thursday, October 13

    Marina Roy: The Art Star, the Academic, the Author, and the Activist: Art-writing in Vancouver 1990-2005

    Tim Lee: Specific Objects and Social Subjects: Industrial Facture and the Production of Polemics in Vancouver

    Thursday, October 20

    Sadira Rodrigues: Dealing (with) Cultural Diversity: Art and the Economies of Race

    Randy Lee Cutler: Vancouver Singular Plural: Art in an Age of Post-Medium Production

    Thursday, October 27

    Reid Shier: Do Artists Need Artist Run Centres?

    Shepherd Steiner: Beyond the “Ifs” of an “Ifing” Hermeneutic Economy: Examples from an Unsystematizable System 

    Thursday, November 3

    Michael Turner: Who’s Business Is It? Vancouver’s Commercial Galleries and the Production of Art 

  • Cocktail Party/Catalogue Launch

    December 18, 1998

    Cocktail Party and Catalogue Launch for publication “Altered Visions”.


  • Vancouver Art & Economies

    VAN A and E front
    VAN A and E spine
    VAN A and E back

    Title: Vancouver Art & Economies
    Category: Criticism
    Writers: Clint Burnham, Randy Lee Cutler, Tim Lee, Melanie O’Brian, Sadira Rodrigues, Shepherd Steiner, Michael Turner, Sharla Sava, Reid Shier, Marina Roy
    Editor: Melanie O’Brian
    Design: Robin Mitchell
    Publisher: Artspeak, Arsenal Pulp Press
    Year published: 2007
    Pages: 236pp
    Cover: Paperback
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 13 b&w images, 44 colour images
    Dimensions: (Height x Width x Depth) 23 x 15.5 x 2 cm
    Weight: 496 g
    ISBN: 978-1-55152-214-2
    Price: $30 CDN

    Since the mid-1980’s, the once marginal city of Vancouver has developed within a globalized economy and become an internationally recognized centre for contemporary visual art. Vancouver’s status is due not only to a thriving worldwide cultural community that has turned to examine the so-called periphery, but to the city’s growth, its artists, expanding institutions, and a strong history of introspection and critical assessment. As a result, Vancouver art is visible and often understood as distinct and definable.This anthology intends to complicate the notion of definability. It offers nine essays to address the organized systems that have affected contemporary art in Vancouver over the last two decades.

    The essays in Vancouver Art & Economies collectively remark, both compatibly and contradictorily, on the economies at work in Vancouver art – its historical, critical, and political engagement; its sites of cultural production; and its theoretical and practical intersection with technology or policy. Considering a selection of conditions, focuses, and resources within the community, Vancouver Art & Economies marks shifting ideologies and perspectives on art, politics, society, and capital in Vancouver.

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  • Altered Visions

    Title: Altered Visions
    Category: Exhibition Catalogue
    Artist: Charles Rea, Thecla Schiphorst, Johannes Zits
    Writers: Lucy Hogg, Sharla Sava
    Editor: Jacqueline Larson
    Design: Roberta Batchelor
    Publisher: Artspeak
    Printer: Imprimerie Dufferin Press
    Year published: 1998
    Pages: 64pp
    Cover: Paper
    Binding: Perfect Bound
    Process: Offset
    Features: 19 b&w images, 10 colour images
    Dimensions: 20 x 22 x 0.6 cm
    Weight: 220 g
    ISBN: 0-921394-31-4
    Price: $4 CDN

    Features three essays examining the relationship of the body to domestic and institutional space in the solo exhibitions of Charles Rea, Thecla Schiphorst and Johannes Zits. The catalogue includes full colour images of each installation as well as the artists’ working notes and sketches prior to making the work.

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