I am excited to welcome you to the April 2018 issue of ArtNow. This is an action packed issue! Here we take a close look at the Lahore Biennale and keep our focus on this magnificent city with an essay looking into its history by Samina Iqbal and Faisal Sajjad’s article on the city’s potential and relevance as a public art space. We also have exciting profiles of Iftikhar Dadi and Marjorie Hussain. ArtNow representatives in Lahore, Nimra Khan and Jovita Alvares, walk us through the biennale venues and the artworks on display. It is amazing to see history in the making and the significance of LB01 for Pakistan and its relevance in the international art world is overwhelming.
The Lahore Biennale opened with an exclusive inaugural ceremony on the 17th of March at the Hazuri Bagh. The opening remarks and speeches were by Mohsin Hamid, Director of LBF, Qudsia Rahim, the Executive Director, Ali Naqvi, Co Chairman, and Osman Khalid Waheed, Chairman of LBF. Amna Naqvi of AAN Foundation also spoke on the occasion. Mr Kamran Lashari and Punjab Government functionaries were important speakers at this ceremony.
On this occasion, a number of awards were announced which included the well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award to Mrs Salima Hashmi. The Italian Friends of TCF Emerging Artist Award, for a residency and mentorship in Milan, went to the top 3 artists of the 60 participating in a silent auction for TCF. They were Mehboob Jatoi, Amber Hammad and Anum Babar. The Imran Mir Foundation also announced the 3rd iteration of the Imran Mir Art Prize, which went to Ammara Jabbar. The LBF also announced the Asma Jahangir Award, which will be presented annually to the most socially engaged artist. This year’s winner of this prestigious award was given to the late Lala Rukh. Two other awards were announced at a spectacular closing ceremony of the Biennale on March 31, 2018. The LBF research fellowship and the AAN-LBF Research Grant’s winners will be announced in July, this year.
The ceremony concluded with a tour of the Aga Khan Museum Project “Maktab” led by Imran Qureshi, bringing together 24 NCA graduates, in a traditional collaborative miniature practice translated into contemporary forms. This was followed by a tour of the works on display at the Summer Palace and a viewing of Shahzia Sikandar’s magnificent piece “Disruption as Rapture” accompanied by collaborative performances by Ali Sethi and Du Yun.
The Biennale was at 7 venues. Baagh-e-Jinnah, Shahi Hammam, and the Summer Palace at the Lahore Fort were engaging venues that interacted with the space and started a dialogue through their historical contexts. Notable works included the site specific installations by Aisha Khalid and Imran Qureshi which questioned the rapid erasure of history and our disappearing heritage in the age of technological advancements and infrastructural progress. Artists Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi brought contemporary interventions into historical environments to create conversations between the past and the present and the interpretation of space and aesthetics in both. Works by David Alesworth, Ali Kazim, and Mehreen Murtaza at Baagh e Jinnah not only contemplated the significance of nature and the environment but also the historical significance of the space itself in relation to its contemporary experiences.
The Academic Forum and the Youth Forum, as part of the LB01 programme, was also significant in its engagement with the public to create a deeper understanding of the works on display and the cultural, historical, political and international implications, and relevance of the Lahore Biennale and the biennale structure at large. Workshops held at Baagh-e-Jinnah by artists, for children, on crafts comprising truck art and calligraphy were also important in reaching a larger audience engaging the general public, throughout the course of the biennale. I am also proud of the ArtNow representatives who were a part of the Art Writing Workshop led by Iftikhar Dadi as part of the LB01 Academic Forum, which served to be an enlightening experience for the young writers.
The LB01 included a large number of collateral shows and openings held over the 2 week duration. These shows were not limited to gallery spaces but also made use of some interesting locations and alternate display spaces such as the Fakir Khana Museum which was one of the most successfully curated shows. The LB01 is especially commendable for truly bringing art into public spaces like parks, museums, and historic sites, and to the Canal Road with the Awami Collective’s light-based art installation. The biennale truly encapsulated the spirit of Lahore as a city and reconnected the audience with its history and social fabric, which made it a tremendous success.
Another exciting event on our calendar this month was Art Dubai, which is now in its 12th year and took place from March 21 to 23, 2018 at Madinat Jumeirah. I am proud to inform you of our involvement with the art fair again this year with a panel discussion as part of the terrace talks. The talk titled “Outside the Globe” offered interesting insights into contemporary works from Pakistan. For a more in-depth look into the discussion please read Saima Munawar’s coverage of the talk in this issue of ArtNow.
It gives me immense pleasure to announce this year’s winner of the ArtNow Lifetime Achievement Award, Marjorie Hussain. Marjorie is a prolific art critic, author, curator and painter based in Pakistan whose immeasurable knowledge, passion and reverence for art and artists is unmatched in the country. Over the years she has accumulated not just textbook knowledge but interesting anecdotes about various iconic artists, and has become an institution unto herself. She has written numerous books on Pakistani art, including “Aspects of Art: A Textbook for Students of Art” and “Art Views: Encounters with Artists in Pakistan”. The Award was announced during the Terrace Talks at Art Dubai.
It was also exciting to see a larger representation of Pakistan in this year’s Art Dubai, with two galleries occupying booths at the fair with solo exhibitions. Sanat Gallery brought exciting new works by artist Zeeshan Muhammad, and Canvas Gallery took Muzzamil Ruheel’s solo exhibit to the international art fair. Both works provided an exciting look into contemporary art practices taking place in Pakistan and were a valuable addition to the art fair.
Lastly, I would like to express my immense pride and joy in introducing the 2nd edition of the ArtNow Art Paper. Due to the success of the first edition we have published the 2nd edition, which is complimentary and available at select branches of Liberty Books and was also distributed at the Lahore Biennale and Art Dubai. I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the ArtNow team in putting this publication together, and look forward to many more publications…..
Bye for NOW!