KARACHI: The first Karachi Biennale 2017 (KB17) is set to start on Saturday, October 21 at 5pm at the Narayan Jagannath Vaidya (NJV) High School on MA Jinnah Road. The two-week programme includes exhibitions of art by over 140 local and international artists, educational art activities for school and college students and tours for general visitors, introducing them to the works on display.
KB17 is a project of the Karachi Biennale Trust set up by art professionals and educators. Key activities undertaken as a part of the biennale since March last year have included ‘Reel on Hai’, a public art project through which recycled cable reels transformed by artists were installed in 20 locations, interdisciplinary roundtables, panel discussions and new media workshops by visiting artists for school and college students.
The biennale is Pakistan’s largest international contemporary art event aiming to bring together innovation, excellence and criticality through a multiplicity of curatorial strategies. Seeking to engage the community through art, the biennale will strengthen a global art exchange showcasing artists from Pakistan to the world. KB17 will focus on connecting art with the city and its people through the theme ‘Witness’.
The KB17 programme focuses on the curated exhibits of this year with participation of over 140 artists from all across the world including Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Far East. To help the audience gain insight into their work and expand interdisciplinary connections with art, Karachi Biennale will be offering educational and discursive interaction to visitors.
The art exhibitions will take place at 12 venues from Karachi School of Art, the city’s longest running art school, to Frere Hall. It has five venues located on MA Jinnah Road. A series of conversations and lectures will be held at the ZVMG Rangoonwalla Community Centre and the State Bank Auditoriums across the two weeks of the event, featuring Meher Afroz, Savita Apte, Saquib Hanif, Dr Marek Bartelik, Dr Marcella Sirhandi, Paolo De Grandis, Carlos Aceros Ruiz, Adriana Almada and Dannys Montes de Oca Moreda.
Public events, such as poetry and book reading on Karachi, spectacular performances and sound and light installations at different public spaces in Karachi will also be a part of the biennale.
The biennale’s significance for the city is manifested in its concept of community engagement for art. Being a city of twenty million, with shrinking public spaces, expanding polarisation and non-consultative and exclusionary development, Karachi is in dire need of efforts and spaces that facilitate participation, dialogue and creative exchange.
KB17’s two-week long, free public exhibition at 12 venues is an occasion to participate in an aesthetic, intellectual, and emotional survey of the city. Our collective witnessing will disrupt the limits of our spatial imagination. KB17 is an occasion to revisit our histories, rethink our present, and re-imagine our future with greater optimism.
KB17 will continue to run till Sunday, November 5.