The team behind Karachi Biennale 2017 — Photo courtesy Karachi Biennale's Instagram
The team behind Karachi Biennale 2017 — Photo courtesy Karachi Biennale's Instagram

The first Karachi Biennale (KB) concluded at a hotel here on Sunday.

In her welcome address, CEO of KB 17 Niilofur Farrukh said the response to the event was much beyond the expectations of the organisers. A new generation of Karachiites and Pakistanis saw art in public spaces. The biennale was something that came every two years and they would try to put it together every two years. "After two years you will be pleasantly surprised by what we have to offer you," she remarked.

Ms Farrukh said she had a very dedicated team, the people of Karachi and very generous people to support the event. The first Karachi Biennale would always be remembered for its pioneering spirit. To sustain the biennale was a major challenge. It needed the support of the entire city and the custodian of heritage sites so that the sites could be opened up with art.

Shahzia Sikandar won the popular choice art prize at KB17
Shahzia Sikandar won the popular choice art prize at KB17

Chief curator of KB17 Amin Gulgee in his typically animated style said he loved Karachi. For him and his associates the event was a rollercoaster ride. He thanked his team and termed the response he had to the biennale “wonderful”. He thanked all the artists who took part in the exhibitions without whose support, generosity and belief none of it was possible. He [Gulgee] went around the world urging artists to come to Pakistan, and they all came.

Mr Gulgee said it was so amazing to be at the finale. Karachi had seen everything. "It is a city that refuses to die, a city that refuses to quit." We were not pampered, we were ignored but Karachi continued to grow and prosper. Karachi desperately needed museums of contemporary art. "Art belongs to everybody, not to just one per cent. It belongs to people at large," he said.

After the speeches, Bushra Hussain announced the winner of the Shahneela and Farhan Faruqui popular art prize. It was won by Shahzia Sikandar.

Farhan Faruqui said Ms Sikandar was also his choice. It was an incredible feeling to be in Karachi and fascinating to see people from all walks of life viewing art [put up at the different locations for KB 17]. For a brief period, as he stood there, he thought this was his Karachi again.

The final items on the programme list were a performative work by Jamal Shah and a music performance by Azad Sur.


Published in Dawn, November 6th, 2017

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