Pakistan Will Get its Own Biennale in Lahore in 2017

Pakistan is about to join the global biennial schedule.

Lahore Biennale artistic director Rashid Rana.
Photo: Samid Ali, courtesy Lahore Biennale.

The number of large-scale art events in Asia keeps rising and Pakistan is the latest country to join in on the buzz. Following the success of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India and the Dhaka Art Summit in Bangladesh among others, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) has announced that the inaugural edition of Pakistan’s first art biennale will take place in 2017.

The Lahore Biennale, the largest contemporary art event to be staged in the country, will kick off in November next year under the artistic directorship of Rashid Rana, one of the most respected and well-known contemporary artists from Pakistan. Rana’s work is represented internationally by Lisson Gallery and the Mumbai-based gallery Chemould Prescott Road.

According the press release, this first edition will engage directly with the city, expanding the production and presentation of art beyond the traditional gallery context, and will explore “art’s power as an instrument of social change.”

Lahore.<br>Photo: Nashmia Haroon, courtesy Lahore Biennale.

Photo: Nashmia Haroon, courtesy Lahore Biennale.


“The world currently has a very limited view of Lahore,” Rana said. “The city is a complex urban space undergoing rapid, and sometimes unexpected, transformation. Being true to the spirit of the city of Lahore will make this a very different kind of biennale.”

“Moreover, from a variety of perspectives, we hope to create a biennale ‘without walls’ in every sense of the word. It is my desire that the inaugural event generates ideas for a larger discourse within the art world while remaining relevant to audiences in the city,” he added.

“Lahore Biennale has made a worthy decision in appointing Rashid Rana as Artistic Director,” Jessica Morgan, director of New York’s Dia Art Foundation and advisor to the LBF, said in the release. “Rana’s role and ability to bridge the gap between Pakistan and the international art world will be of great importance for this first Biennale, which promises to bring much needed attention to the outstanding art and culture of Pakistan.”

Lahore, one of Pakistan’s most important urban centers and home to a population of over 10 million people, has a strong artistic and literary tradition. The city produces 80 percent of the country’s books, and in 2013 attracted 30,000 people to the first Lahore Literary Festival. It is also home to a large number of visual artists, and the leading Pakistani artists Rana, Imran Qureshi, and Shahzia Sikander were born in the city and studied at the prestigious Lahore-based National College of Arts.

Lahore.<br>Photo: Courtesy Lahore Biennale.

Photo: Courtesy Lahore Biennale.

Founded in 2014, the LBF was behind the critically acclaimed collateral project “My East is Your West” at the 56th Venice Biennale, which gathered the historically conflicting nations of India and Pakistan in a collaborative exhibition featuring artists from both countries.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics