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October 23, 2019

Second Karachi Biennale to showcase artists from 16 countries

Karachi

October 23, 2019

The second Karachi Biennale 2019 will be organised from October 26 to November 12 at seven venues in Karachi.

CEO Karachi Biennale Trust (KBT) Niilofur Farrukh, speaking at a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Tuesday, shared that this year they were going to showcase artists from 16 countries, under a theme: Eco-Leaks from the invasion desk.

As Pakistan’s largest international contemporary art event, the KBT recognises environmental emergency as the defining issue of our times, she said and asked for support to propagate this cause in public. The theme refers to the disappearance of low- flying birds of Karachi because they lost their nesting place and freedom to fly unhindered.

KB19 is the second iteration of the Karachi Biennale, an unprecedented endeavour connecting art, the city and the people, held in October 2017.

Speaking on the different venues, she said visitors to the biennale would navigate seven venues across the metropolis, where artists had created almost a hundred surprising and urgent projects: their ideas to embrace nature’s ‘welcoming arms’ (Kahlil Gibran). Spaces range from colonial to contemporary, public parks to concrete dwellings. Mayor Karachi Wasim Akhtar, she said, had made the Karachi zoo available for the KBT where over a dozen artists would showcase their works with some of the city’s oldest trees that served as the lungs of the densely populated area.

The NED University’ city campus will also be one of their main venues along with Alliance Francaise de Karachi, Frere Hall, and the gallery of Indus Valley. In Bagh Ibne Qasim, more than 30 artists will showcase their work.

“It was a challenge to arrange Bagh Ibne Qasim as venue as it’s an open place,” she said. British Council , Goethe Institut , the Consulate of Italy and ProHelvetia Swiss Arts Council are also among venues.

Farrukh said that these institutions had been instrumental in the participation of artists from their countries. All other venue partners are hosting KBT in their spaces. The Karachi Biennale exhibition venues are free and open to all. It will have an extensive public programming for everyone. For students , daily school tours and weekly college visits have been introduced to enhance their understanding of art and ecology. Keynote talks by global and local scholars, discussions, and guided tours for visitors promise an unforgettable cultural experience.

Speaking on their education program, she said that they were inviting people from all walks of life, especially children from schools. On Wednesday there will be an artist talk for them. Foreign scholars will speak on art and ecology. There will be five prizes in the KBT for artists. Individuals , foundations and companies are behind these five KBT prizes that recognise outstanding work and achievements. One will be KBT H M Habib Lifetime Achievement Award for someone who has served visual art for 40 years. “They are chosen from all provinces,” she said. There will be a project-based emerging artist award for the newcomers. The third award is KBT Langdon-Malik Foundation Performance Art, fourth is KBT Shahneela and Farhan Faruqui Popular Choice Art Prize in which visitors will vote for the winner through mobile application. There’s also KBT Mahvesh and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation Juried Art prize.

Curator Muhammad Zeeshan said that they wanted to take art to those who were not artists. That was the reason, he said, that they chose a public place like Bagh Ibne Qasim, where public generally came for f walk. He said artists such as musicians, actors, architecture and dancers would take up the issue together and take the discourse at a much larger level.

The KBT is a platform to promote creativity, innovation and criticality in the visual art. It was formed by a group of visual art professionals and educators. To ensure the urgency surrounding ecology at this ‘green biennale’ spreads far and wide, Zeeshan has selected a diverse mix of participants.

“I have also invited architects and gardeners and engineers and sound technicians, theater performers, and storytellers to participate. KB19 will not just be received by artists but by everyone, thus my vision has been to include people from varying disciplines and from the public, so that their di erent voices and messages will help our universal message spread faster and more e ectively,” he said.

With a lineup of globally acclaimed artists , the public audiences will get an opportunity to see museum standard art in Karachi against the backdrop of its heritage sites. KBT 2019 will not only unpack the city’s relationship with nature, but also celebrate it and begin a global collaboration for healing and rejuvenation. It is supported by innumerable public and private partnerships.

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