Art Gallery of Mississauga Exhibition

The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989
Until October 19, 2014

Organized by the Smart Museum of Art

Curated by Jessica Moss and Ram Rahman


Since 1989, the influential Delhi-based Sahmat Collective has offered a platform for artists, writers, poets, musicians, actors, and activists to create and present works of art that promote artistic freedom and celebrate secular, egalitarian values. The collective formed in the weeks after playwright, actor, and activist Safdar Hashmi was fatally attacked by political thugs while performing a street play. In the more than twenty years since, Sahmat has drawn on India’s secular heritage and an expansive group of collaborators to produce a series of projects that engage in important political and social debates through a mix of high art and street culture.


Sahmat has been at the heart of what co-curator Ram Rahman likens to "India's culture wars." Animated by the urgent belief that art can propel change and that culture can reach across boundaries, Sahmat has created space for an expansive group of artists and collaborators to present powerful works of art that defend freedom of expression and battle intolerance within India's often divisive political landscape.


The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989 is organized by the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago. The exhibition is curated by Jessica Moss, Smart Museum Associate Curator for Contemporary Art, and Ram Rahman, photographer and independent curator. The Sahmat Collective is made possible by The Smart Family Foundation; Helen Zell; the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF Fund; The Joyce Foundation; and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Larry and Marilyn Fields; Barbara Fosco, The Fosco Family Foundation; and the University of Chicago’s Committee on Southern Asian Studies.


The AGM leg of the exhibition is sponsored by RBC and Armstrong Fine Art Services.




The AGM will present a series of events and programmes that take a close look at the various themes of the show, including secularism, identity politics, religious harmony and civic engagement. By placing Sahmat’s work against the geographical background of Canada, the AGM takes a critical look at the role of the artist collective and the relationship between art and activism from both a global and local perspective.


Please see or contact the AGM at 905 896 5088 / for more information.


Schedule of Events


Artist in Focus | Rashid Rana artist talk and film screening

Wednesday, August 13, 7 pm, Civic Centre Great Hall

Co-presented by the TD MOSAIC Festival, the Art Gallery of Mississauga and the Aga Khan Museum


Thinking Globally, Acting Locally | A Panel Discussion on Art, Activism and Artist Collectives

Tuesday, August 26, 7 – 9 pm, Art Gallery of Mississauga

Panelists: Indu Vashist, Kajri Jain, and Condé + Beveridge


Dance Freely | TIMEANDDESIRE x Bollywood Monster Mashup

Begins Saturday, August 30

Interactive art installation in Celebration Square


Posters for Change | Postermaking Art and Activism Workshop with the Public

Saturday, September 13, 10 am – 5 pm, Glass Pavilion, Mississauga Central Library

$35 AGM members / $40 non-members / Register


Hidden Music | Musical and Performance Traditions from Pakistan

Thursday, September 25, 7 pm, Art Gallery of Mississauga

$21 | Registration will open in August through the City of Mississauga Connect2Rec


5&Dime Walking Tour | Doors Open

Saturday, September 27, 1 pm

Meet at Cooksville Library 3024 Hurontario Street, Suite 212


A Gift for Mississauga

Sunday, September 28, 1 pm, Art Gallery of Mississauga


Closing Reception + Film Screening of Jashn-e-Azadi by Sanjay Kak

Friday, October 3, Reception at the Art Gallery of Mississauga at 6 pm, Screening at the Noel Ryan Auditorium, Mississauga Central Library, at 7:30 pm

Stories of our Landscape | Conversations after Sahmat

Saturday, October 11, 2 – 4 pm
Meet at the AGM at 1 pm, bus departs at 1:30 pm
$21 | Registration will open in August through the City of Mississauga Connect2Rec


300 City Centre Drive
RBC and Armstrong Fine Art Services
Smart Museum of Art