Qudsia Rahim on Pakistan's Art Scene

Qudsia Rahim on Pakistan's Art Scene

Founded by a group of leading artists and supporters of the Arts, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) represents a conscious attempt to reclaim a place for the Arts in Pakistan’s national discourse. LBF recently brought international speakers to an art seminar at National College of Arts, Lahore for ‘Ancestors: Architecture of Memory’. Qudsia Rahim, the Executive Director, tells Hello! all about the experience.

How was the LBF conceptualised and what are its objectives?

The LBF is a collaborative effort that met the demands of a certain time and space; there is brewing activity within the Lahore art scene. It was an attempt to provide avenues/opportunities and to break institutional confines to make art a part of public discourse.

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How is LBF making art accessible to the general public?

LBF has so far been engaging in projects that dive into the public sphere – our first residency at Theertha was performances in the city of Colombo, our Intersections’ project is an on-going Public Art Installation in the heart of Lahore, we have regular community and artist talks where we encounter all sorts of disciplines, and minute projects such as Gandi Engine Commission entirely remove the exclusivity of the art world. Rashid Rana’s project, most importantly, represents our first effort to delve in the public sphere. LBF overall brings projects into the city, conducts open calls for all disciplines and is garnering a large following on social media, a space where the masses convene most effectively.

What role do you play in the foundation? Who are the other team members?

I am the Executive Director of the foundation. We have a small team of seven members, each dealing with a different range of tasks; Saher Sohail, Nour Aslam, Zoya Siddiqui, Shanza Elahi, Fatima Fazli, Aziz Sohail and last but not least Mohammad Rizwan. We have a very active board with Osman Khalid Waheed as chair, and Ali Naqvi, Rafay Alam, Raza Ali Dada, Fawzia Naqvi, Mohsin Hamid and myself of course.

What kind of response did Rashid Rana’s installation get?

The response within the public sphere has been most exciting for us – there have been unforeseen, minute happenings and performances almost within the room. Some people visit often, others dance, some cried... The room has acted as a portal for venting out, without any repercussions. It’s become a cell for dialogue across the globe, cutting boundaries.

Tell us about ‘Ancestors’.

‘Ancestors’ was a parallel programme, curated by Natasha Ginwala, that hosted some well-known names such as Urvashi Butalia, Leela Gandhi, Shilpa Gupta, Naazish Ataullah, Salima Hashmi, Quddus Mirza amongst others. It was a seminar conducted at the National College of Arts that explored the ‘My East is Your West’ project as a starting strand for larger discussions around geographic connectivity, colonial history, cultural transformations and oral memory in the Indian subcontinent. Collateral events included the screening of a movie by Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, an installation by Syma Tariq, and a performance work by Tentative Collective.

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What can we expect from LBF in the future?

The LBF is leading up to a biennale in 2016, following a series of projects that include a research grant, the opening of Intersections and more.

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