Works of about five dozen artists are on display at the show.
Works of about five dozen artists are on display at the show.

The first International Public Art Festival began on the premises of the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) building on Thursday evening.

The show, curated by Amin Gulgee, Zarmeena Shah and Sara Pagganwala, is titled The Quantum City: Territory, Space, Place.

Works of about five dozen artists are on display at the show. They are placed inside large containers pretty close to the main entrance to the building.

The artworks range from video installations and large-size photographs to mixed media pieces and performance art. All of them depict or touch upon, as the title of the exhibition suggests, the issues pertaining to space that people either occupy or are kept away from.

There are also some beautiful black and white pictures of Karachi’s colonial pieces of construction. Although they are encased in a container, the poignancy of the images cannot be missed because the structure where those images are hung (KPT building) itself was built before independence and has delightful architectural attributes. Just imagine, Empress Market shot by the photographer with incisive use of lighting, and once the viewer steps out of the area where the picture is kept and sees the KPT structure in the background, the visual pleasure is simply indescribable.

But the focus of the artists — Amin Gulgee, Babar Sheikh and Muzummil Ruheel, to name just a few — is the territory the quest for whose acquisition has become a concern for the city’s artist community.

At the same time, one must acknowledge the fact that the installations and performance art are there for the public to see. This is a big plus. If the venue could be made readily accessible to the people, the effort of the organisers would surely bear fruit.

The event, which concludes on Saturday, is an initiative of I AM KARACHI in collaboration with the KPT and the Martin Dow Group.

Originally published in Dawn, March 15th, 2019