The distance between Venice and Manora, two islands, is 5354 kilometres, but it took several years to bridge that gap. This year, for the first time – after many initial attempts, Pakistan has entered into the prestigious Venice Biennale. In its 58th Edition with Naiza Khan’s work Manora Field Notes.
One hopes that this beginning, would be a grand opening as it can become an occasion to perpetual participation through showcasing individual artists after every two years, so the country could be perceived a place that produces artists, who are not merely ‘representing’ their homeland, but are conversing in the language of contemporary art, whether displaying at an international event, at galleries abroad or home.
Actually, having the first Pakistan Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is an important event and a magnificent achievement, because it provides us opportunity to view our art from a different direction and destination. In past, Pakistani artists, such as Zahoor ul Akhlaq and Sylvat Aziz were included in the international event, or Rashid Rana’s work was shown at the 56th Venice Biennale, but the Islamic Republic never had its own space.
Now we have that space; what to do with it? A question that must have intrigued Pakistan National Council of the Arts, which (in collaboration with Divy Art Foundation) sent nation’s entry for this May; by inviting Naiza Khan with her Manora project. The sheer presence of Pakistan is historic and significant, for several reasons. To start with, the choice of sending one artist is an intelligent decision; because behaving like other nations with long history of Venice participation, (USA, UK, Germany, France etc.) Pakistan also chose to exhibit a single name. And more than that a contemporary one, sending the subtle message, that the art of the country is at the stage of maturity, confidence and sophistication, which can make its mark by focusing on an individual artist, instead of dispatching a loosely curated group show.
In recognition of this, Art Now Pakistan has focused on Pakistan’s pavilion in our current issue, and through essays, Photo-essay, Profile, Interview and book review, we bring you multiple views to what took place at a far-off city in southern Europe, but which is happening here too; since it will have a huge effect and substantial impact on the art of country, still unseen in Venice, but visible to our eyes; eyes which have changed after the 58th Biennale!