Vancouver International Centre for Contemporary Asian Art

The reading room and library at Centre A began in 1999 with contributions from artists, researchers, and curators both locally in Vancouver and internationally. The reading room emerged out of the need to collect a body of literature on Asian art practices, and by extension creating transnational ties with international arts communities. Past curators at Centre A have made significant contributions in collecting publications that reflect and engage in conversations concerning contemporary Asian and Asian diasporic art practices, and the artistic relationships between North America and Asia.

Centre A’s reading room includes the Fraser Finlayson Collection of rare books on Classical Chinese and Japanese Art with publications dating back to the late 19th century. Included in the reading room are also recent publications that have been donated by galleries, artists and artists collectives, and curators. In addition, we house monographs, artist ephemera, exhibition catalogs, art criticism writings, and artists books that have contributed to the diverse livelihood and possibilities of the reading room as a site of cultural production. Some publications in the reading room include books by Ai Wei Wei, Santiago Bose, Yayoi Kusama, Mona Hatoum, Reena Saimi Kallat, as well as other notable artists.

Researchers, curators, artists and art institutions have generously contributed to the reading room to enrich the democratization of literature, the production of knowledge, and maintaining the reading room as an accessible public resource in Vancouver’s Chinatown. At Centre A, we house an array of publications that have been created for public programming initiatives that have engaged Vancouver’s arts community. These publications have been critical in facilitating dialogues and conversations concerning globalization, cultural identity, and the role of the arts under various political conditions.


Reading Room Activations

We are pleased to introduce our Reading Room Activations series in fall 2019, aiming to restate the Reading Room’s role as a site of critical engagement and knowledge sharing, with monthly picks by Centre A’s friends and guests.

What’s On:

September 7 – 26, 2019, Monthly picks by Hania Ilahi (Vancouver, BC)

“This selection of monographs and exhibition catalogues of Japanese contemporary artists is centred around the book Consuming Bodies: Sex and Contemporary Asian Art, particularly, on the contributions of Yoshiko Shimada, who addresses the appropriation of traditional art practices by a world-renowned art movement that is deeply embedded in consumerist culture in her a critical examination of the complicity of Japanese soft power campaigns in the obfuscation Japan’s colonial history. These books aims to supplement the reading of this volume, which, through a collection of essays by artists and art historians, examines sex and consumerism in Japanese contemporary art in relation to the history and culture of the country, by illustrating the juxtapositions that it creates of the works that further the aims of the state, employing elements of Japanese culture that are universally celebrated with those that are critical of it, engaging contentious issues in Japanese history.”

Hania Ilahi is a volunteer at Centre A, involved in the construction of its Asian Artist Database. Hania will be graduating in the Spring of 2020 with a double majoring in Art History and Asian Studies from The University of British Columbia.

Visit the Reading Room to find out which five titles that Hania has picked!


The reading room is open to the public during gallery hours. Please email info@centrea.org if you need any additional information, and be advised before you visit that we have a no scent policy.

As an integral part to not only Centre A, but Vancouver’s art community more widely, we would like to ask the community for your ongoing support and contribution to the reading room. Click here to make a donation to the reading room, or visit our volunteer page to sign up as a cataloguer.