South Asian Studies Institute

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Adrienne Fast

Dr. Adrienne Fast

Research Associate

Abbotsford campus, A203h

email Adrienne


My academic work focuses on art and visual culture production during the late-colonial period in South Asia, particularly in Bengal. My PhD thesis examined the challenges and opportunities associated with performing the social role of the modern, professional artist during this period, with a close study on the city of Calcutta where new kinds of art worlds were forming and transforming during the decades from roughly the 1910s to the 1940s. My project investigated the discourses and practices associated with the Bengali art world(s) at that time, and sought to better understand the range of social actors who inhabited and embodied its spaces. My PhD was undertaken at the University of British Columbia and was completed in 2015.

Prior to my PhD, my academic work was still deeply interested in exploring the social tensions and upheavals associated with the late colonial period in Asia, and the way(s) that artists and visual culture producers navigated and informed such changes. My MA dissertation, completed at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, dealt with the relationship between the “Mooi Indie” school of naturalistic, romantic landscape painters who were popular in early twentieth century Indonesia, and the radical, Indonesian artists’ group known as PERSAGI, established in Jakarta in 1938.


PhD, Art History and Theory                    

University of British Columbia, 2015

Thesis: Printmaking and Professionalism in Early 20th Century Bengal


MA, Art History and Archaeology        

School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2000

Dissertation topic: Art and activism in Late-colonial Indonesia


BA (Honours), Art History

University of Victoria, 1999



     Board Member, Access Artist-Run Centre, Vancouver

     Committee Member, Evergreen Cultural Centre Visual Arts Committee, Coquitlam

     Active volunteer, Abbotsford Community Services

Research Interests



“Insider Series: Artist in Residence Scott Billings,” Burrard Arts Foundation Blog, June 2019.


“Printmaking and Professionalism in Calcutta.” Re bus: Journal of Art History and Theory, no. 8 (2017): 82-100. Peer-reviewed.


“At the Limits of Representation: Artists Respond to the 1943 Bengal Famine.” Annual Conference on South Asia, 2014.


“Mukul Dey: A Radically Modern Artist.” International Institute for Asian Studies, no. 60 (Summer 2012): 8-9. 


“Advertising and Modern Art in India.” University Art Association of Canada, 2011.


“Middle Class Identity and the Working Artist.” Association for Asian Studies, 2011.


“(En)counter the White Cube: Regimes and Experiences of Viewing at the Vancouver Art Gallery.” Graduate Symposium, UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art & Theory, 2009.


The Optic of the State: Visuality and Power in Argentina and Brazil” (book review). Wreck – UBC Journal of Art History, Visual Art & Theory, vol. 2, no 1 (2008): 69-71.

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