Karachi Art Summit: Engaging the Public through Contemporary Art

    Written by: Nageen Shaikh
    Posted on: March 24, 2017 | Post your comment here Comments

    Sculptures of burqa-clad women by Jamil Baloch (photo by Jamal Ashiqain) - Karachi Art Summit 2017 at National Museum

    Sculptures of burqa-clad women by Jamil Baloch (photo by Jamal Ashiqain)

    Contemporary art provides individuals with a tool to communicate their points of view and initiate a dialogue that generates public interest. The latest endeavor in this regard is the Karachi Art Summit. Organized by Faysal Bank, it comprises a variety of interactive art exhibitions that aim to create social and political awareness by engaging the public and addressing pertinent issues in modern society.

    The summit opened on March 21 at the National Museum grounds, which were filled with people from all walks of life. The cool evening breeze provided the perfect ambiance for the visitors, who interacted with the installed art pieces on the grounds. Several emerging as well as renowned artists participated with different types of art installations, sculptures, and a performance that proved to be inspirational and invigorating.

    3D art by Obaid ur Rehman - Karachi Art Summit 2017 at National Museum

    3D art by Obaid ur Rehman

    The entrance saw remarkable 3-D artwork displayed on the ground by Obaid ur Rehman. Amongst the sculptures, the most eye-catching were the seven huge figures of burqa-clad women, evenly spaced and installed on the ground by artist Jamil Baloch. The towering figures were highly impressive due to their scale and uniformity of design.

    Mujtaba Asif, an alumnus of the Visual Studies department at the University of Karachi, created paper bags from a thaila that he collected from government and private schools all over the city. Stretching from Lyari, Saddar and Shah Faisal to schools in Gulshan-e-Iqbal and Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Mujtaba conducted workshops where he used a simple algebraic equation, replacing the digits with simple words in Urdu for race and religion. He found out through his workshop that the minds of the young generation are heavily influenced by their guardians, including taboos and prejudice against minorities and people of different religions. In the process, he realized that this kind of thinking must be rejected in order to generate a healthier mindset among our people.

    Amin Gulgee and Sara Pagganwala performing 'Play Me' - Karachi Art Summit 2017 at National Museum

    Amin Gulgee and Sara Pagganwala performing 'Play Me'

    Eminent sculptor Amin Gulgee and artist Sara Pagganwala performed their piece called Play Me, which saw both artists sitting and playing a board game with metallic sculptures. The board, which somewhat resembled a game of chess, had pieces carved in the shape of Gulgee’s face. The participants sat opposite each other and seemed completely engrossed in their game. One could derive personal, social and even political inferences from this engaging performance.

    Renowned artist Abdul Jabbar Gul expressed his views on the modern-day culture of rampant commercialism and greed for money with his sculpture done in wood and dyed a shade of greenish black. Taken from his ‘Ordinary Souls’ series, this work was reflective of how society has replaced their moral values with commercial ones. Hassan Raza, another alumnus of the University of Karachi, installed wooden sticks on the ground that were painted as measurement rulers from the top, to represent the impure human growth that sticks itself to something pure and organic. This piece was a criticism of modern society and the pretence that comes with it in the form of materialism and selfishness. Other participating artists included Raheela Abro, Yasir Hussain, Talal Faisal, Hamza Rana and Abdullah Qamar.

    Untitled - Abdul Jabbar Gul - Karachi Art Summit 2017 at National Museum

    Untitled - Abdul Jabbar Gul

    The summit aims to highlight Pakistani art and provide a chance for the public to interact with it. A variety of performances and projects are lined up throughout the next two weeks to achieve this aim, which will continue till April 05.

    Art installation by one of the participating artists - Karachi Art Summit 2017 at National Museum

    Art installation by one of the participating artists

    On March 22, Goethe Institute hosted a talk titled ‘Connecting Beyond Boundaries’, which saw a discussion by notable speakers including Stephan Winkler, Jeannette Seppen and Jeroen Van Paassen. A video titled ‘Global Videos’ by Dutch organization ‘Stitching White Cube’ was also shown. On March 23, performance art by Yousuf B. Qureishi, along with a curatorial project titled ‘144 Empty Chairs’ and works by Abdul Jabbar Gul were also opened for the public.

    Inclusive initiatives of this kind provide a refreshing change for the public of this massive and culturally diverse metropolis, providing an ideal opportunity for people of all socio-economic backgrounds to come together and interact with each other. Over the next couple of weeks, the Karachi Art Summit will go to a variety of venues, including the University of Karachi, Alliance Francaise de Karachi, Jahangir Kothari Parade, Commune Artist Colony, Fomma Art Trust and Free Masons Lodge, where performances, art installations and projects by various artists will be open to the public.

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