A makeover for Karachi: Artists breathe life into city’s walls, replace hate with love

Published: May 21, 2015
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Several artists have hopped on board I Am Karachi’s reclaiming the city’s walls project to replace hate graffiti with positive images. The project on MT Khan Road is underway. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

Several artists have hopped on board I Am Karachi’s reclaiming the city’s walls project to replace hate graffiti with positive images. The project on MT Khan Road is underway. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: 

For a city whose walls are spattered with political slogans, hate graffiti and dubious advertisements of faith healers, quacks and weight-loss products, a group of artists have a makeover in mind.

‘Reimagining the Walls of Karachi,’ an initiative by ‘I Am Karachi’ that is being steered by the fine arts department of the Indus Valley School (IVS) in collaboration with Abdoz Arts, aims to wipe ugliness off of the city’s walls. The three-tiered project planned over three to four months has several institutions, such as the Institute of Business Administration, Karachi School of Arts and Karachi University, helping to push forward with the transformation.

Several artists have hopped on board I Am Karachi’s reclaiming the city’s walls project to replace hate graffiti with positive images. The project on MT Khan Road is underway. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

Supervised by artist and teacher Munawar Ali Syed, the first tier is the Stencil Art Project, which employs the skills of artists who regularly take up the task of embellishing the walls of the metropolis. These artists will come up with ideas to daub on the walls, implementing them with the help of stencils.

Meanwhile, the ‘Wall Project with Children — Bachon Se Tabdili’, led by artist Rabeya Jalil and art critic Shahana Rajani, is an extension of another ongoing project. Providing drawings made by children from areas, such as Shireen Jinnah Colony, Lyari and Sharae Quaideen for the walls in the same localities, this phase has the goal of motivating children to appreciate artwork and reclaim their public spaces.

The Individual-Led Artist Project, on the other hand, seeks to help the ideas of people to materialise on Karachi’s walls with the aid of other visual artists. Slowly taking form on the container compound wall at Moulvi Tameezuddin Khan Road, it will not only enable artists to use art as a weapon against escalating extremism but also give them a canvas on which they can show their feelings for the metropolis.

“Implementing this project was a nightmare at first,” says Adeela Suleman, an associate professor at IVS. “However, commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and the assistant commissioner, Shahzeb Shaikh, took a personal interest in it and have been extremely helpful throughout the process.”

Several artists have hopped on board I Am Karachi’s reclaiming the city’s walls project to replace hate graffiti with positive images. The project on MT Khan Road is underway. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

According to Wajiha Naqvi, the ‘I Am Karachi’ campaign manager, the consortium is trying to create a counter-narrative to promote tolerance, peace and diversity through reclaiming public spaces in the city. “With this project, the aim is to reclaim the walls of Karachi that are often covered with hate graffiti towards ethnic groups and political sloganeering, replacing them with images that depict positive values.”

For her, the idea behind ‘Reimagining the Walls of Karachi’ is to evoke a sense of civic activism, unity and interest among the residents of Karachi, inspiring individuals and communities to take ownership by protecting their walls, their spaces and, ultimately, their city.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2015. 

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Reader Comments (13)

  • MAD
    May 21, 2015 - 9:28AM

    Excellent initiative ‘I Am Karachi’ Team, it is indeeed a pleasure to see beautiful art work on the walls at M.T.Khan Road – it brightens up the day and releases stress when we return back home from work. THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • May 21, 2015 - 9:38AM

    Great job kids! Keep the spirit alive.Recommend

  • Troubled
    May 21, 2015 - 10:39AM

    Brilliant. Let us know if this needs funding.Recommend

  • Patriotic Pakistani
    May 21, 2015 - 10:39AM

    Well Done boys…Recommend

  • Well Done.!!
    May 21, 2015 - 11:05AM

    I AM Karachi.
    Good Show keep up the spirits high. We all are with you in Revitalizing and Reimagining the tarnished image of the metropolis.
    I’m Impressed. Good Show & you Guys stand tall today.!!!

    Best Wishes. Recommend

  • Samra
    May 21, 2015 - 11:50AM

    How to be a part of it? Its a great idea.Recommend

  • Rushna
    May 21, 2015 - 11:53AM

    Amazing work done! I hope we can revive the beautiful architecture of Bunrs Road sometime soon too.Recommend

  • K A R
    May 21, 2015 - 12:30PM

    Excellent Idea guys.
    This can really showcase a good image of Karachi to the world.
    please publish your organisation’s contact details.Recommend

  • I AM KARACHI
    May 21, 2015 - 3:34PM

    Thank you all for your positive comments and feedback. To truly change the landscape of the city for the better, we would encourage as many individuals and organizations to support and spread this project, including the larger campaign under which this is being held. We would love to generate more resources to continue this across Karachi. For more please see: https://www.facebook.com/iamkhi and http://www.iamkarachi.org.
    To get in touch please e-mail at: joiniamkhi@gmail.comRecommend

  • Hope
    May 21, 2015 - 4:09PM

    Best thing happening after a long long time.Recommend

  • May 22, 2015 - 10:12AM

    That can be a way an individual by his/her talent can contribute to city’s development, beautification and create a positive image of people dwelling here. thumbs up for our artists, as they are and they always have been pushing hard to revive our cultural essence (Y)Recommend

  • May 22, 2015 - 11:05AM

    well done, go headRecommend

  • The Artist
    May 25, 2015 - 9:32PM

    While people are appreciating the work done by the I’m Karachi People, I still Feel Uncomfortable with the Dull Colors they are Applying on those wall some off them are disturbing, Another main reason for Criticizing this work is that some Walls are Looking more Dirty after those Stencil or Paint Work,(For Example Walls in Front Of Arts Council and Sindh Assembly Building), The Stencil Work is Hardly Noticeable if you are traveling in Cars, Bike or buses. For Karachi People you can only see these walls at Mt Khan Road, near IVS , Opp Civic Center, I Guess for the PEOPLE living in North karachi, Nazimabad,North Nazimabad, Gulshan, Johor Malir and Shah Faisal they have to wait for another few yearsRecommend

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