Joe Sarahan fonds



     Video Art

Joe Sarahan is Winnipeg-born, Surrey-raised, and a Vancouver-based artist producing video between 1983 and 2002. Sarahan was an integral member of the Satellite Video Exchange Society for over a decade, working at Video Inn and Video In Studios as an arts administrator, curator, technical instructor and graphic designer. His videos have been widely exhibited and collected by the Art Bank of Canada, The National Gallery of Canada, Art Metropole, The Ludwig Museum in Germany, and Canal+ in Paris.

“ECIAD-trained but self-taught Sarahan has been a pillar of Vancouver’s Video In and queer video circle…[A] frequent collaborator of Paul Wong, Paul Lang, Lorna Boschman and painter Attila Richard Lukacs. Celebrated for his confrontational aesthetics of sexual and social outsiderdom, Sarahan’s best known work was his urban dirge, Holy Joe, whose acquisition and presentation by the National Gallery [of Canada] in [the gallery’s] inaugural video show in 1988 (also showcasing [Richard] Fung and [Marc] Paradis, curated by the queer-friendly Su “Mother Courage” Ditta), led to a major censorship kefuffle involving yellow media and Ontario Censor Board, partly in response to Sarahan’s fleeting glimpses of an SM dungeon [Ditta 1999].”   Excerpt from uncredited statement,

Sarahan was active in the Vancouver anti-censorship movement in the 1980’s and 1990’s, as a supporter of Paul Wong when the Vancouver Art Gallery cancelled his installation Confused: Sexual Views the day before its planned opening, a supported of the art commuity-initiated, but broadly supported, Coalition for the Right To View, and as a curator of screenings like Sodom North Bash Back [1990] in response to the attacks by R.E.A.L. Women and the fundamentalist churches on the LGBTQ2S+ community and Celebration ’90 Gay Games III.


“I stopped producing art some 15 years ago and decided to hide out on Prince Edward Island where I have delved into the art of craft making and the restoration of old homes. Being seduced by the complete serenity of it all, I have never returned.”

Joe Sarahan, March 2020.


The Crista Dahl Media Library and Archive has been caring for Joe Sarahan’s video archive since 2017. Sarahan formally donated his materials to the CDMLA in September 2019.