Sep 01 2017

Rashid Rana Withdraws as Artistic Director of the Inaugural Lahore Biennale

by Je-Seung Lee

It was announced on August 31 in a joint statement issued by the Lahore Biennale Foundation and Rashid Rana that the Pakistani artist will be stepping down from his position of artistic director of the biennial’s inaugural edition. Courtesy Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

On August 31, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) issued a joint statement together with Rashid Rana on LBF’s Instagram account to publicly announce the withdrawal of the Pakistani artist from the position of artistic director of the inaugural Lahore Biennale. The biennial was slated to take place in November this year as the largest contemporary art event to occur in Pakistan. Rana’s departure stemmed from the fact that he and the foundation “were not able to reach a formal agreement on their proposed collaborative relationship,” according to the post. Rana was first announced as the artistic director back in March 2016.

The foundation made it clear that the ideas for the concept and methodology of the exhibition devised by Rana will not be used for the upcoming event, recognizing that they are the artist’s intellectual property. The parting was described as amicable and the announcement ended on a warm note: “Both parties wish each other continued success in their future endeavors.”

Considered to be one of the most significant Pakistani artists of his generation, Rana is well-known for his works of photography, sculpture and digital prints that explore issues of media, identity and politics. A Lahore native himself, the artist had described a vision for the biennial that would engage the residents of Lahore, while challenging perceptions of the city, the parameters of the biennial format and the discipline of art: “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.”

Je-Seung Lee is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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