Pakistan Biennale Announced for 2017

Art News

March 16, 2016

Soon, Pakistan will join an extensive list of countries around the globe that host their very own biennale event. The Lahore Biennale is set to open in 2017 and one of Pakistan's most prominent and sought-after artists and curators Rashid Rana is appointed as its director. The goal of the Biennale is to introduce the global art market with the vibrant art scene present in this Asian country but also to bring international art to Pakistan. The Biennale is set to be the biggest contemporary art event in Pakistan that will engage both national art professionals and the local community.

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Lahore Press Club where the Pakistan Bienalle was Announced

A Different Kind of Bienalle

A group of art experts gathered around the new event decided that the vibrant city of Lahore with its rapid and unexpected transformations, "deserves a visual arts event with the ambition and scale of a biennale.” The Biennale will include public art projects and commissioned works and the selection of artists and galleries that will participate in the inaugural edition is yet to begin. Rashid Rana, the director of the upcoming event said in an official statement that this will be a different kind of Biennale that "will occupy an alternative space, between academia and contemporary art emerging from the region”.

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Artist and Curator Rashid Rana

Rashid Rana - First Director of the Pakistan Bienalle

The new director of the Biennale, Rashid Rana is renowned worldwide for his photography, sculpture and digital printmaking that explore various issues such as media, identity and politics. The artist that was born and raised in Lahore, went on to build an international career and exhibited his works in numerous countries around the globe including U.S. and France. The artist had previous experiences with similar events, having participated in the celebrated Venice Bienalle in 2015. On this grandiose event, he presented My East is Your West exhibition that was created in collaboration with the Indian artist Shilpa Gupta. The show represented an unusual and rare collaboration between India and Pakistan on an international art scene.

The Challenges of Hosting a Large art Event

Of course, staging an event of this magnitude is not easy. One of the potential problems of hosting the Lahore Biennale is funding. Considering that Pakistan is a poor country it's not easy to find money for the art event of this size which is why the organizers are seeking for both private and government financial support in order to pay for the exhibitions. Another problem that may occur is censorship. Rashid Rana reflected on this issue in a conversation for The New York Times and stated that "Pakistan is a very free country in a strange way. It’s not a fully developed democratic society, but there is a strange kind of freedom that exists here. Even with censorship or self-censorship, artists here find interesting ways to create and express themselves.” The artist also added that he believes that logistics would be the biggest challenge in planning the show. Hopefully, Lahore Biennale Foundation will manage to overcome these difficulties and give the artists from this part of the world (that are hugely underrepresented on the global scale) a much-needed opportunity to present their works to the worldwide art market.

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Featured image :Rashid Rana - My East is Your West, 2015, photo: Mark Blower via newslinemagazine ; Images via Lahore Biennale Foundation unless otherwise credited