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August 22, 2017

Whatever happened to Karachi’s birds?


August 22, 2017

“With major cities in Pakistan witnessing what many would consider ‘urban development’, it becomes imperative to imagine what the ravaged landscape might look like from a bird’s eye view,” said Sehar Nadeem, artist and curator of Koel gallery’s latest multidisciplinary group exhibition ‘We Ate The Birds’ while speaking to The News.

A permanent faculty member at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, currently doing a research on Karachi, Sehar said she wanted to present a sense of how birds might perceive cities such as Karachi, and how they are treated in urban cities.

Artist Abdul Muhammad, another faculty member of the IVS, said killing birds for mere house decorations made him feel miserable for the creatures. One of his art works displayed a sketch of a partridge’s sculpture.

“The frequent cutting down of trees for clearing land in urban areas is destroying our cities,” said another artist Seema Nusrat whose sculpture ‘When Birds Collide’ generated a lot of interest.  She had displayed structures of buildings which rested on bird feet carved out of metal.


Among the artists was also independent filmmaker Jamil Dehlavi’s piece. Having produced films such as ‘Jinnah’ and ‘The Blood of Hussain’, Jamil displayed a scene from another of his films ‘Towers of Silence’ that showed birds roaming around a depressed girl sitting at the seashore.

Further elaborating on the exhibition, Sehar said the concept of the project was inspired by writings of poet, novelist Margaret Atwood. She said that apart from the environmental and geo-political angle, this project pays close attention to the significance of birds in South Asian culture like fortune tellers using parrots to predict the future, rooster fights considered a sport and the recent accusation by the Indian government that a pigeon was sent across the border (from Pakistan) for the purpose of espionage.

Salman Khilji and Saba Khan, artists from Lahore, were also among the 19 artists who were part of this multidisciplinary project. Commending the art gallery’s events, a faculty member of IVS’ print making department who attended the exhibition's opening said, “The Koel art gallery has extended its exhibition place and has made this gallery a permanent residence of art.” The exhibition was the first event held after the gallery’s expansion and concluded on Monday.

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