The Lahore Biennale Foundation in collaboration with the British Council presents a three-day, site-specific art exhibition staring on March 17 featuring work by artist Farida Batool and curated by Tanvir Hasan: Lahore ki aik Dastan (Memory – Legacy – Migration).
The exhibition is situated in one of the city’s historic buildings—the Dyal Singh Mansion on Mall Road — a building that has stood silently and watched the city and its people change.
Much like a dastaan, the evolution of a city is fraught with many twists and turns which shape the collective experiences and memories of the city’s people, stored in the fabric of the built environment. By presenting the legacy of the area and the city of Lahore at the Dyal Singh Mansion, the exhibition recognizes art in public spaces as a powerful medium to shape everyday experiences and engage the public in meaningful dialogues.
The exhibition features academic research elements, historic images, projection-based installations and live mural painting on site that highlight local poster artists, including Agha Mukhtar, Kalid Mehmood and Afzal Khan. Through art in public spaces, this initiative provides a platform for the local community, highlights cultural heritage and questions how cultural identity has both evolved and been buried within the built environment of the city that surrounds us.
The exhibition is open to the public and entry is free for all.
With a focus on the cultural legacy of our city and its citizens, the LBF is invested in bringing the art and culture of Pakistan to the public.
“Lahore Biennale Foundation’s commitment to the City of Lahore manifests in the form of various projects it undertakes. Working with Farida was especially important because of her in-depth research approach in both tangible and intangible culture history”, said Qudsia Rahim, Executive Director of the Foundation.
“The process of working and reworking the project in the past few months has allowed us to process and discover an array of experiences, making my commitment to the city even deeper and stronger – please come to the show not only to experience the amazing works of the artist but also come to meet the community and history that resides within the amazing Dyal Singh Mansion.”
The curator of the exhibition, Tanvir Hasan said that, “buildings and spaces hold memories, memories make history and history is what keeps us together and sane. In a period of loss and destruction a few remaining fragments of the Mall safeguard the countless changes this street has experienced. It holds within its bricks and mortars experiences we have all shared with it.”
Farida Batool is an independent artist who explores Pakistan’s political upheavals and tumultuous history. Her research interests are new media, masculinity, visual cultural theory, and city and public spaces. She is currently teaching and heading the Department of Cultural Studies at National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, and has authored a book, Figure: the popular and the political in Pakistan. She is an active member of Awami Art Collective working in public spaces. She presented papers and presentations at international conferences and workshops including Yale University USA; Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Montrel, Canada; Oxford University, St. Joseph’s University Philadelphia and many more.
Farida has exhibited extensively in many international and local solo and prestigious group shows. She is an active member of Awami Art Collective which aims to use art in public spaces to generate a discourse of peaceful co-existence.
About the exhibit, the artist said, “a story of a city is like a dastaan with layers of twists and turns of multiple stories of the collective experiences of people and their memories. Nai reesan shehr Lahore diyan unfolds itself only when these layers are excavated.”
The exhibition is curated by Tanvir Hasan, an accredited conservation architect with extensive experience of conservation and regeneration. She is the Deputy Chairman of Donald Insall Associates, one of the United Kingdom’s leading conservation practices. Her work focuses on the conservation of historic fabric and managing change within sensitive heritage sites. She has worked extensively on Scheduled Monuments and World Heritage sites in the UK and her many conservation projects include award-winning schemes along London’s Regent Street and North Audley Street.
Tanvir is currently working with the World Monument Fund in Iraq and Kurdistan. There her projects focus on reinstatement of lost memory through conservation and sensitive regeneration, as part of post- conflict reconstruction, and include most of the ongoing restoration of Mosul Museum destroyed by ISIS in 2015.
Tanvir has worked extensively in Pakistan; she has taught at the NCA and is a founding member of the Lahore Conservation Society. She has lectured on conservation, regeneration and sustainability at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment London University, the Graduate School of Design Harvard. She is member of Historic England’s London Advisory Committee, sits on the Fabric Committee of the Albert Hall London, to advise on the conservation of this historic Victorian Hall.
The Lahore Biennial Foundation was founded by Qudsia Rahim, who received her undergraduate degree from the National College of Arts, Lahore and a Master’s from Alfred University, New York.
As a curator, she has organised artist residency exchange programs and research-driven exhibitions that have showcased works by local and international artists. In her current leadership role as the Executive Director of the Lahore Biennale Foundation and Director of Lahore Biennale, Rahim has executed numerous public programs that promote the role of contemporary art in public and non-conventional spaces. She founded the Research Cell as part of the Foundation’s outreach efforts to encourage cross-sectoral collaboration on the domestic and international front, and strengthen art philanthropy and scholarly research in the visual and contemporary art fields. In addition, Ms. Rahim initiated “Afforestation Lahore” a scalable, nation-wide project that brings together stakeholders from the government and civil sector to combat loss of tree cover and address other urgent environmental challenges.
The LBF is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide critical sites for experimentation in the visual arts. LBF focuses on the many stages of production, display and reception of contemporary art in diverse forms. It understands inclusivity, collaboration, and public engagement as being central to its vision and is committed to developing the potential of art as an agent of social transformation.
To this end, LBF endeavours to support art projects across Pakistan, especially those critical practices which are based on research and experimentation. LBF is supported by government bodies, and has developed enduring relations with international partners. These partnerships at home and aboard attempt to bridge institutional gaps between Lahore and the rest of the world.
The Lahore Biennale is held every two years. The inaugural Lahore Biennale was presented in 2018. The second Lahore Biennale in 2020 was curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, who brought her experience in curating and promoting the contemporary art of this region, and her knowledge of the global contemporary art world and its institutions to Lahore.
Details: Dyal Singh Mansion, the Mall Road, Lahore, Pakistan from March 17th to 20th, 2022