Mar 16 2016

Artist Rashid Rana appointed artistic director of inaugural 2017 Lahore Biennale

by Hanae Ko

Pakistani artist RASHID RANA, who was appointed artistic director of the inaugural Lahore Biennale. Image source: Radio Open Source

On March 15, Pakistani artist Rashid Rana, renowned for his photography, sculpture and digital printmaking that explore issues of media, identy and politics, was appointed artistic director of the inaugural Lahore Biennale, slated to take place in November 2017. Organized by the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF), an initiative started by a collective of leading Pakistani art professionals in 2014, the international biennial is projected to be the largest contemporary art even in Pakistan.

The LBF—whose past projects include “My East is Your West,” a critically acclaimed collateral event at the 56th Venice Biennale, which notably featured together artists from the historically conflicting nations of India and Pakistan—has stated the focus of its new biennial to be a direct engagement with the city and local community, and to extend the presentation of art beyond the traditional white-cube setting. As the Biennale’s artistic director, Rana envisions an event that “occupies an alternative space, between academia and contemporary art emerging from the region,” as noted in an official statement for the Lahore Biennale.

In further discussing his vision for the Lahore Biennale, Rana states: “The world currently has a very limited view of Lahore. 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. Lahore deserves a visual arts event with the ambition and scale of a biennale.”
Commenting on Rana’s appointment, LBF director Moshin Hamid says, “For me, Rashid is an excellent choice. He has lived in Lahore, created art in Lahore, taught in Lahore, so he is intimately familiar with and engaged with the city. But his vision and experience are post-national, post-boundaries. And his commitment to an inclusive biennale is very strong.”
Born in 1968, Rashid Rana lives and works in Lahore. Having studied painting at the city’s National College of Arts, and the Massachusetts College of Fine Arts, Boston, he is head of the fine art department at Beaconhouse National University in Lahore. Rana has exhibited in solo exhibitions worldwide, including “Labyrinth of Reflections” at Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi (2013), “Everything is Happening at Once” at Cornerhouse, Manchester (2011), and “Perpetual Paradox” at Musée Guimet, Paris (2010). His work has also been presented in major group shows, such as “My East is Your West” at the 56th Venice Biennale (2015); the Kiev Biennial (2012); “Where Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh” at Fotomuseum, Winterthur (2010); and “Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan” at Asia Society, New York (2009), among others. Most recently, Rana has an upcoming survey show scheduled to take place at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi.

Hanae Ko is reviews and web editor at ArtAsiaPacific.