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Lahore Biennale 01: Shehr-o-Funn to begin on Sunday

Lahore has long been the cultural hub of Pakistan; deeply entrenched in various expressions of art. Yet, the city remains obscure on international forums when it comes to engaging artistic practice with diverse publics. Given the limited representation of Pakistan in global media, and the relative scarcity of regional dialogues within South Asia, there is a real urgency to foster a deeper and multifaceted dialogue between Lahore, the region, and the rest of the world.

The Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) was established in 2015 in part to serve this urgent need. Engagements that the Biennale Foundation serves to create can further energise new relationships between Lahore’s residents and visitors such that the past can be reflected upon, the present debated in new ways, and the future anticipated in a progressive direction.

The LBF is proud to be announcing its inaugural Lahore Biennale 01 (LB01). The two-week festival, which will take place between March 18th and March 31st. It will be held at seven major venues that engage with the city’s Mughal, Colonial, and Modern layers.

While the concept of a 14-day long cultural program is appealing, even more exciting is that the event will engage over 50 artists from Bangladesh, India, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, as well as from Europe and the United States. Encapsulating the uniqueness of Lahore as a location, artist projects will be exhibited at venues across the city that have strong cultural and historical references. The renowed sites of Lahore Fort, Shahi Hammam, Mubarak Haveli and Tehsil Park, Lahore Museum, Alhamra Art Centre, Bagh-e-Jinnah, and the main Canal road will be turned into sites for compelling visual display.

Lahoris will be able to view works from prominent names in art, including Amar Kanwar, Naeem Mohaiemen, Shahzia Sikander and Shirin Neshat. Artists presenting major new commissions will include Ali Kazim, Awami Art Collective, Aisha Khalid, and Imran Qureshi. In addition, there will be talks and performances that will discuss the subject matter in great detail, while keeping visitors enthralled. Musician Ali Sethi and composer Du Yun will perform on the opening day, while a performance by Salima Hashmi along with a performance reading by Naiza Khan will close the event.

The LB01 will feature several public programs that include the ‘Academic Forum’ and ‘Commissioned and Curated Exhibitions’. These are as follows:

Academic Forum
The Academic Forum will be a fourteen-day program organised by Iftikhar Dadi that will bring in curators, critics, and scholars to Lahore as an integral dimension of the Lahore Biennale 01. The forum will include public lectures, panel discussions, and workshops presented by artists and academics who work on Asia and the global South.

artSPEAK
artSPEAK is a public program, first initiated by the Lahore Biennale Foundation in 2015 to provide a platform for critical discourse on diverse topics of interest to creative practitioners. For LB01, artSPEAK will continue this ethos by engaging with practitioners whose work is part of the Biennale. This curated series of lectures and panels organised by Aziz Sohailwill highlight elements of artistic practices, with the audience being a key interlocutor. It allows for the audience to engage with the work on display, and for the artists to re-examine their own practices.

Youth Forum
The Youth Forum, Lahore, aims to create artistic engagement for youth from all over the country, and from across various economicspheres. Its main aim is to expose children and young adults between the ages of eight to sixteen to contemporary and public art. Workshop programs in several areas of art-making and writing will begin from March 19th, and continue for the duration of the Biennale at the Bagh-e-Jinnah.

Commissioned Curated Exhibition
Invitation to Actionwill bean exhibition at Mubarak Haveli organised by affiliate curator Mariah Lookman. It takes its critical cue from the double-edged title of a short sketch by Saadat Hassan Manto on the nature of mindless violence during and after the partition of India in 1947. Participating artists in this exhibition include: Aisha Khalid, Alia Syed, Ayesha Jatoi, Ayesha Sultana, Asvajit Boyle,LalaRukh, Mahbub Shah, Minam Apang, Muhanned Cader, Rasel Chowdhury, T Shanaathanan, andZahoorulAkhlaq.

Miniature Painting Atelier in cooperation with the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
In a special segment of LB01, curated by artist Imran Qureshi in cooperation with the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto, a miniature-painting atelier will be set up at the Maktab Khana, Lahore Fort from March 10th to March 25th. The atelier will include and showcase the skill of over twenty Pakistani miniaturists.

Overall, the LB01 looks to have an incredibly packed and interesting schedule; and as a first for Lahore, it looks to have built on all the best that this great city has to offer. We hope to see you all there!

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