A new month brings with it another exciting issue of ArtNow, and I would like to welcome my readers to peruse through “Zones of Conflict” which explores the role of art within conflict/war through the In Focus essays, in light of the recent political instability in the country and the immense social, cultural, economic and political divide the world over. The issue also includes a retrospective of the old master Anna Molka Ahmed by Marjorie Hussain, and profiles of Naiza Khan, who is currently gearing up for the Asia Pacific Triennial, and Aroosa Rana. I am also very excited to introduce our guest editor for this month, Gretchen Romig Crosti, the president of the Italian Friends of The Citizens Foundation, who has been working to garner support for TCF in Milan through art, and has been part of the upcoming benefit show in Milan that has been in the works for the past year.
Crosti was introduced to the TCF story by Asma Khan of the Satrang Gallery, which inspired her to put together a group of women in her hometown of Milan in 2010 in support of TCF and its quest for providing affordable education to the underprivileged. An important aspect of securing more international funding for the organization entails creating a more positive image of Pakistan and an understanding of the issues plaguing it, and an effective solution to this was seen by Crosti as the promotion of its vibrant art scene. As the Milanese are ardent consumers of art and culture, this became an obvious meeting point for deeper understanding and communication.
As a result, The Citizens Foundation and the Italian Friends of the Citizens Foundation embarked on a project to bring Pakistani Contemporary art to Milan in the form of a fundraiser exhibition “Art for Pakistan: Contemporary Artists from Pakistan”, curated by Salima Hashmi and Rosa Maria Falvo, the proceeds from which will go to the efforts for providing educational means to the underprivileged by TCF. The Exhibition will take place at the Museo Diocesano in October, and is organized in sponsorship with the Embassy of Pakistan in Rome and The Italian Embassy in Islamabad and in partnership with Fondazione Sant’Ambrogogio – Museo Diocesano in Milan, Skira editore, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) and VASL Artists’ Association. The show includes such contemporary art giants as Faiza Butt, Naiza Khan, Adeela Suleman, Hamra Abbas, Nusra Latif Qureshi, Imran Qureshi, Adeel uz Zafar, along with 25 more artists from Pakistan, chosen to reflect the country’s cultural and artistic richness, beauty, and creative intellect. The project also includes a residency program to be hosted in Poggio Verde Country Villa, an eight-hectare property, which has been part of Luigi Crosti’s family since 1897, and has been managed by Gretchen Crosti since 2014. The winners of the residency, selected by an esteemed jury, were announced at the inaugural Lahore Biennale in March 2018, and include 3 emerging artists from Pakistan, Amber Hammad, Mahbub Jokhio, Unum Baber & Matt Kushan.
In other international news, the Asia Pacific Triennial recently announced its list of participating artists, which includes eighty artists and collectives from more than thirty countries. Being held from November 24th, 2018 till April 28th, 2019, this will be the ninth edition of the Triennial, which is the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art’s flagship contemporary art series. Drawing more than three million visitors, the event offers a look into various art scenes and cultures from the region, bringing together the most important artists from diverse countries for an exhibition, film program, Children’s Art Centre projects, and a dedicated public program of talks and workshops for complete cultural emersion. Pakistan is being represented in the Triennial by Rasheed Araeen, Ali Kazim, Aisha Khalid, Naiza Khan, and Waqas Khan, and I’m excited to see what they will bring to the table this time.
An exciting show that took place this month at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art was Delirium/Equilibrium, which included Pakistani diasporic artists Shahzia Sikandar and Shahzad Dawood along with a number of other film makers and video artists. The show was focused on the experience of video, film and animation in various forms which in some way create unsettling experiences through their compositions, visuals and sound design. Curated by Roobina Karode, the show presents “poetic ambivalences and blurred visions of the present, broaching the subject of life, the depths of darkness, illuminating the need for a rewiring of the world. With isolated gestures, stand-alone episodes, sites of failure and mysterious realms, the exhibition offers a setting for a philosophical reading of the present moment, politically and socially.” (http://www.knma.in/delirium-equilibrium)
The Karachi based group, The Tentative Collective will be part of an outdoor film screening organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles, in the coming month. The aim is to represent the cultural infrastructure across 2 cities through the presentation of projects by two organizations, one of which is “Mera Karachi Mobile Cinema” (2012-2015) by the Tentative Collective. This extensive project took place across various areas of Karachi, collaborating with ethnically and economically diverse residents to produce a collection of videos shot on mobile phones featuring everyday life. These videos were then projected onto the city infrastructure through a mobile cinema fashioned out of a rickshaw fitted with a projector. The idea was to use easily accessible, chep technology that represents the local vernacular to document the city, and then present it using the same spaces and instruments that are being represented was a more layered commentary. Screened along with works by the Echo Park Film Center, it is meant to reflect on cinema as a mechanism for expressing the narratives of immigrant communities whose notion of place, security, and citizenship is in constant flux.
An exciting international opportunity currently available for young creative practitioners in Pakistan comes in the form of Photo Khathmandu’s open call for its very first South Asia Incubator. The open call invites emerging photographers, and artists, writers, researchers, curators working with photography in South Asia for a chance to engage with a group of 10 other South Asian practitioners and 6 mentors from around the around. Deadline to apply is the 10th of September. Another opportunity for photographers is presented by Art Chowk Gallery in collaboration with social and environmental activist Tofiq Pasha Mooraj. The open call invites photography submissions on the theme “Pani Hai Zindagi”, in light of the recent ongoing water crisis that has enveloped the country and threatens its survival. It would be an exciting opportunity for emerging photographers to not only showcase their work and gain exposure, but also to contribute to the need for awareness about this significant issue.
I would like to once again extend my congratulations to Muhammad Zeeshan in light of his official introduction as the head curator for the upcoming Karachi Biennale 2019. The announcement was made at TDF Ghar this month in a private event, and the curator introduced his vision for the biennale to a rapt audience. The event was followed by live performances by Batool Zehra and Ali Mirchi. I look forward with anticipation to see this curatorial vision take form at the KB19 next year.
Emerging artist, Haider Ali Naqvi, recently concluded his 3 month residency with the VASL Artist Collective. The culminating body of works titled “Conurbations” is on display at the old HUM TV Studio on the 3rd floor of the Arts Council of Pakistan, Karachi. Taking the artists explorations of a city in constant evolution and growth, the current explorations are an experimental survey looking at weather changes and the effects of nature on manmade objects and the tensions between human development and forces of nature, and the ways in which the city continues to grow unplanned and unchecked beyond its environmental limitations.
KB17 might have concluded last year, but its reverberations can be felt in the ways in which it has inspired and activated the youth of the city. One of the most interesting use of public space was displayed by Madiha Aijaz in her work on libraries within the shelves and walls of the Jamshed Memorial Hall Library, in response to which a group of 11 kids have presented their own interpretations of what a library signifies in today’s world. Their 2 weeks of city-wide research and community networking culminated in the form of a library, as they set out to prove that they can also create a library with little to no resources, a model which can then be replicated and adopted by others anywhere. The project was presented by the Karachi Biennale Trust along with a panel discussion on forms of censorship in libraries at the beginning of August at the Alliance Francaise de Karachi.
A number of important shows were also part of the local art calendar this previous month. Rabeya Jalil exhibited an eccentric new body of work at Koel Gallery where she explored the mediums of paint and printmaking as well as encapsulating her practice as both artist and teacher. Eminent artist Roohi Ahmed also, presented her solo body of work at the AAN Gandhara Art-Space titled “The Distance Between Two Points”, curated by Aziz Sohail. The artist explores overlapping concerns around nationhood, belonging, gender and the body in diverse mediums. The current show is a mapping of the artist’s practice to allow for a deeper understanding of the ways in which it spans and encapsulates an entire lifetime spent with art. Another important show which spans the career of a single artist is “Omar Kahani” at the V.M Art Gallery, displaying the works of Omar Farid from 1972-2018. IVS Gallery’s “Signature”, on the other hand, brings together a number of important printmakers of the past few decades, responding to the title ‘Signature’ in a project by the Department of Fine Art of IVS. The project is conceived by Nurayah Sheikh-nabi and invited thirteen visual artists to contribute to a box print folio, which is a collection of individual works that make a complete whole. It is exciting to see the art scene pick up once again as Fall approaches, bringing out some exciting shows, artists and events to ornament the local and international art scene.
Bye for NOW!