Karachi Biennale is a visionary platform that focuses on innovation and excellence. It brings together art from Pakistan and the rest of the world through curation strategies. The second Karachi Biennale proved to be Pakistan’s largest international contemporary art event. Curator KB19 invited artists from all over Pakistan and the world to start a conversation on ecology through their work. KB19 presented 98 installations created by more than 100 multidisciplinary artists from over 16 countries themed around ecology. TEdit spoke to some of the artists and curators about their work and experience at the biennale.
Qinza Najam — New York
Qinza Najam, a Pakistani born artist from New York displayed two projects. One of them was her live performance called Tabdeeli, earlier performed at the Queens’ museum in New York. The performance was about social ecology, system that gets corrupted and results in physical, emotional and social displacement. The other installation was a collaboration with Saks Afridi called, “Don’t grow up, it’s a trap”. The installation showcased human nature and gave the message to look inwards instead of blaming others. “It’s a very proud moment for Pakistan to bring international artists together and show them the rich culture of Pakistan. I had a great time performing with Napa students and showing my work at the biennale. There is more to Pakistan than what is portrayed in international media. I met amazing people and their hospitality is unmatched. I look forward to collaborating with different curators and artists. My favourite artist’s work from biennale is Irfan Gul Dhari, Munawar Ali, R A Naeem and Mehr Afroz who showcased great art.
Amin Gulgee — Pakistan
Gulgee’s project, Impossible Growth at the biennale was copper, steel, iron and mirror structures. Sometimes a plant grows where it should not through steel and concrete and sometimes a dream is realised when all call in impossible. We are all connected living beings of carbon feeding off of the sun’s energy. Impossible Growth’s shadow will track the movement of the sun in the day acting as a sundial. The ground surrounding the sculpture was covered with the oil-stained sand of Clifton beach where the entire city comes to breathe and collect. The work inaugurated after the sunset along with a ritual celebrating it, titled 4Markers. A part of the performance was instructional in which the senses were engaged and the audiences were encouraged to share salt. In the words of Khalil Gibran: “There must be something strangely sacred in salt, it is in our tears and in the sea”. About his favourite project from the biennale, “I thought that the Mangrove project at the IVS was fantastic”.
Victorine Mueller — Switzerland
Victorine presented her life size transparent elephant which was placed at Karachi Zoo. The artist sat herself inside the elephant at the zoo for few hours in the evening. “I had a great time in Pakistan during biennale. This was my first visit to Pakistan and before coming from Switzerland I had a very different image of Pakistan but it has been an honour to be part of this event. The whole event is very honest, inspiring and so wonderful to interact with artists from all over the world”. All projects were very exciting and my favourite was Munawar Ali’s elephant project, lying in the grass, much real. And I really liked Qinza Najam’s work which I think is very close to reality and inspiring.
Patrizia Keller — Switzerland
Patrizia Keller, a curator from Switzerland, Nidwaldner Museum Stans attended Karachi Biennale for the first time.”It is my first time in Pakistan and my experience is wonderful, very different from what media portrays about Pakistan. I am very impressed with the whole surrounding of biennale and very excited to see Pakistani culture and how its incorporated with art. My favourite work was Omar Waseem’s amazing installation.
Nicolas Raufaste — Switzerland
Nicolas Raufaste is a curator at the CAN Centre d’art Neufchâtel, Switzerland. It was an amazing experience as this was my first visit to Pakistan and before coming to Karachi, I was a bit skeptical about the country’s situation and how they will manage the whole event but to my surprise they have done an amazing job by getting all the artists together. In Europe and America, there is so much art but it is so important to bring more contemporary art to Pakistan and make public understand more about art. I myself discovered different kind of art in Karachi Biennale. I really like Mehr Afroz’s work, acrylic, and gold leaf and silver leaf; I also enjoyed Qinza Najam’s art performance, Tabdeeli.
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