First Karachi Biennale starts on 22nd

Karachi:October 20:The first Karachi Biennale (KB17) is to be held in town from October 22 to November 5. Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday afternoon, Neelofer Farrukh, managing trustee of the biennale, said that the event would showcase the works of over 140 artists and would be spread across 12 venues in various parts of the city.

She said that among other things, the shows would include artworks by children of various localities. “Such events are essential to bring people of various strata of society closer to one another to cultivate civic harmony and mitigate this air of mistrust and acrimony that had gripped the city. It would cultivate a congenial atmosphere in a city that has been torn apart by all kinds of strife.”

Farrukh said that the biennale would be free and there would be no admission fee. The director of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (Piler), Karamat Ali, who was among those who addressed the press conference, said that there was a time when such exhibitions were held aplenty in Karachi and said that he could recall the oft-held shows featuring artists like the late Sadequain and the late Ali Imam.

“However, over time, the plunging of the city into civic frenzy brought an end to this healthy trend. It all degenerated into infighting,” he said.

Noted journalist Ghazi Salahuddin said that the purpose of the biennale was to make Karachi a pulsating place. “Art makes the life of a city meaningful. We have to reclaim public spaces where people can share their concerns, their passions,” he said.

Aquila Ismail, social activist and writer, said that the biennale would also wipe away many misgivings about the nature of various localities and in this context, said that contrary to what was generally believed, Orangi Town was not a slum.

Every home there, she said, had an entrepreneur. These biennales would be “islands of hope”, she said, and not just these but future ones too. “We have relegated art which actually is very essential,” she said.

Curator of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) museum, Asma Ibrahim, said that the objective of the biennale was to get art across to the people. Artist Amin Guljee said that the project, on which the organisers had been working since last August, was on a purely voluntary basis and all the members had been working voluntarily.

It was their urge to cultivate harmony in the city and wipe off the image of intolerance and violence that the city had come to be associated with. Highlighting the importance of art, Almas Bana, chairman of the biennale, highlighted the importance of art and said that much before the craft of writing was invented, people communicated with each other through pictures and sketches and in this context cited the cave paintings found in various parts of the world.

In all, 12 locations in town representing various social and economic strata have been selected including five on MA Jinnah Road. In the south of the city, the main venue is the Frere Hall. Neelofer Farrukh said that even though the Frere Hall management charged for the use of the hall, they had agreed to provide the venue free. The programme will feature lectures by, among others, Meher Afroze, Saqib Hanif and a number of foreign artists.The news.