Right here in the city of Jeddah, we witnessed an art scene grow to fruition, and become a powerful part of the city’s mainstream culture. In the public arena, art has always been a part of daily life, thanks to the monumental sculptures strewn across the city. It isn’t always easy to bring art into the public realm, in regions rife with cultural and logistical challenges, but that hardship is what gives the art and the city its soul.
In another coastal city many miles east of Jeddah, where many of our international readers are from, an art biennale is bringing art back into the public arena. The venues for the Biennale are historic buildings, part of the city’s rich heritage, which get a new lease of life by being the axis of engagement for this city-wide event. The Karachi Biennale starts on the 22nd October and continues till the 5th November. We share with you the event highlights, and some striking images of the principal venues, as well as a public art project, Reel On Hai (The film is on), the likes of which we think every city in the world could use.
Karachi biennale theme: Witness
“To witness something can be an involuntary act but to be a witness by choice alludes to participation and responsibility. Art, as a testament of its time, has always held significance, particularly in times when memory is heavily contested. Kundera, with his words ‘The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memories against forgetting’, puts the onus of creating testimonies for collective memory on eye witnesses and documenters.
The artists and art critics of our times are witness to a world brutalized by aggression and anxiety. Their testimonies, be they personal or political, create a visual space of defiance.”