Karachi Biennale 2022 (KB22), Pakistan’s largest contemporary art event, took place in nine venues across Karachi from October 31 till November 13. Through Karachi Biennale 2022, there is so much to discover with artworks and performances by artists from 13 countries. Karachi Biennale Trust is an Art platform that promotes creativity, critical thinking and innovation. Its flagship project, the Karachi Biennale is Pakistan’s largest international, contemporary art forum. Even in two weeks, it was difficult to fully explore, fully immerse oneself in and fully experience the technological wonder of the third Karachi Biennale.
KB22 provided all with an opportunity to venture into immersive art projects that explore Virtual Reality (VR), artificial intelligence, sensory, kinetic and creative computing. KB22 was free and open to all. With over 26 projects and installations by over 45 artists hailing from 13 countries, the Biennale was a massive undertaking. Here are our top pickups…
Deen o Duniya
Globally celebrated artist Imran Qureshi proudly presented ‘Deen o Duniya’ – The Sacred and the Earthly; a site-specific installation at the Karachi Biennale 2022.
In ‘Deen o Dunya’, Imran Qureshi captures video projection and sound-based work to interpret and showcase boundaries of religious rituals, culture and modern technology merged in a carnivalesque form. “I was humbled for everyone to experience. It is one where residents of a local neighbourhood go through profound physical and emotional experiences when their homes, streets, and entire neighbourhoods undergo an intense transformation.” said Imran Qureshi.
Indeed, Imran Qureshi expands the language of miniature painting in the form of such site-specific installations, three-dimensional works, videos, and paintings. His work continues to be firmly rooted in the tradition of miniature painting.
Microtonal takes the form of an interactive data driven sound sculpture; the centuries-old Tharri instrument borindo to present-day, experimenting with what exactly can be achieved when 200 borindos tune in and respond to the sound they received and created by Allahjurrio and Faqir Zulfiqar in Badin. The project was a culturally important one by the studio Invisible Flock. They collaborated with Faqeer Zulfiqar, one of the last borindo players remaining in the country, and his comrade, Allah Jurrio, a 90-year-old potter from Badin, one of the last craftsmen who still knows how to make this dying instrument.
The borindo is a cylindrical, terracotta instrument that traditionally has eight differently sized holes to produce the melody. The top-most hole produces a note while the bottom hole sustains the tonic note. With Invisible Flock, Faqeer Zulfiqar and Allah Jurrio produced Microtonal, an interactive data-driven sound sculpture, made from over 200 borindos.
It Lies Beyond
Rashid Rana, the creator of the exterior of Pakistan Pavilion, brought a unique large scale installation to the people of Karachi. Rana’s recent installation ‘It Lies Beyond’, as part of Karachi Biennale 2022, is an interactive art piece allowing observers to fully immerse in the experience through an AI app that converts the display into moving pictures. ‘It Lies Beyond’ challenges viewer’s perception of what is inside and outside, close and distant, within and without, real and fictional while bridging and dismantling these binaries simultaneously, opening questions of the ‘nature versus man-made’. This installation refers to the post-renaissance materialist inquiry, the explorations of and expansions to the other worlds, sea-trade, colonisation, industrial revolution, consumerism followed by global climate change resulting in various natural calamities like recent floods – all unfolding as various chapters of a saga that begins and ends with water bodies.
Lines of Force
Visual artist Syeda Sheeza Ali created surprising encounters with art and science. ‘Lines of Force’ played with natural forces and the scientific phenomena that evolve around them. Unseen forces spontaneously interact through mechanisms and structures such as gravitational force, magnetic force, and electromagnetic force. The artwork becomes a manipulation and expression of these dynamics. Through the participation of the viewer, many of the works could be distributed and reformed.
Syeda Sheeza Ali, a visual artist, works on the amalgamation of Art and Science. Her artworks have an exciting kinetic experience. She uses Iron and Magnets as her working medium.
Amin Rehman’s ‘Water Wars’ series used conceptual art to explore topics of flooding in a more provocative way, intervening with stylised words, block letters that mix the aesthetic calligraphy of Urdu with aphorisms in English. Rehman posed ‘Has politics changed?’ in Urdu, tracing the roots of climate change back to human mismanagement and the government’s lack of investment in conservation and safe trash disposal, and pointing to the role that corrupt institutions, water mafias, and armed forces play in the ecological destruction of the land. ion
It highlighted that water is absolutely political and becoming more so through scarcity, national ownership, and boundaries. ‘Water Wars’ addressed the changing climate in the Indus River basin regions by 2040. Like water defies the boundaries of land, video, and photo meet to defy location through augmented reality.
Audio Placebo Plaza
‘Audio Placebo Plaza’ was a participatory work that invited everyone to take appointments to discuss how an audio placebo could help improve their lives. Daily issues that people may struggle with can be brought to the table. Through this, a variety of audio techniques are developed to provide care. Music is made to create repair.
Audio Placebo Plaza (APP) with Erin Gee, Julia E. Dyck, and Vivian Li/ Canada is a trio of woman-identified and non-gender conforming artists based in Montreal/Tiohtià:ke. They centre intersectional feminism by expressing ways of caring, emotional labour, and making community through collaborative performance and sound art.
Artist Yasir Darya’s installation ‘Air Rider’ was focused on providing awareness about pollution in Karachi. His installation allowed the public to experience live data on air pollution displayed via motorcycles at strategic routes throughout the city. His work was more interactive, allowing the audience to become a part of the ‘art’ through their natural curiosity. Where tech meets society, culture, and liveability. In real-time, the user connects with streaming live-data and interacts with the ‘Air Rider’, making their way on district geographic routes throughout the city. Yasir Darya (Karachi-based), founder of Darya Lab and Green Pakistan Coalition, a nature advocacy network, is a multi-disciplinary artist, activist, and futurist. Many of his artworks are based on Karachi’s ecology.
Wall of Thoughts
Bilal Jabbar, the creator of the unique idea called ‘Wall of Thoughts’, which consisted of 1000 kitchen bowls with electric motors and sensors, from where he tried to get a new experience for the viewers. The subconscious mind is a ‘Wall of Thoughts’ with a number of fascinating stories residing within it. It could be a place of zen or a battle of chaos. Bilal uses his amalgamation of domestic cutlery and auto-electronic machines to engage the viewer in a new atmospheric experience that could be a reflection of their own subconscious. The work was interactive and only worked while it was in motion within the space.