(Art+Micro) History: Contemporary Artistic Voices from the South

LECTURES – This project proposes a two-part talk series with contemporary artists living and working in Karachi, Pakistan.  As a megacity that is currently home to some 15 million souls,  and until 2017 one of the ‘most dangerous cities in the world,’  Karachi has witnessed the brutal impact of the 1947 partition, ethnic and sectarian violence, the flow of capital, arms and goods, the Afghan War, and much more. This constant “ordered disorder”  state of Karachi, while unique to the particularities of its own context, is nonetheless reflective of the “colonial matrix of power”  that continues to impact the Global South in the shape and form of its various legacies.  This complex history also means that creating any holistic understanding of Karachi only succeeds in creating little more than statistics. This project therefore aims to combine the framework and methodologies of microhistories to capture the complexities and ever shifting dynamics of this megacity, while making broader connections with the Global South.More so, it not only aims to bring much needed attention to artistic production currently being undertaken in areas that don’t make it into the canon of western art, but also to understand the implications of working in highly charged environments, and producing work in places where there exists little to no institutional support. The project provides an opportunity for the audience to understand first-hand the issues that contemporary artists face in places like Karachi. 

Links for Registration: Talk with Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani, October 28 2021, 11 am EST: https://concordia-ca.zoom.us/j/86184185381?pwd=bnNuN21Cb0NBTHVmUm95eThIS0NpZz09

Talk with Fazal Rizvi, November 25 2021, 11 am EST: https://concordia-ca.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZYuceGvqzwrGNIrWhYJo_abMt82nkz7paIy

Bios of Presenters: 

Shahana Rajani and Zahra Malkani are artists based in Karachi, Pakistan exploring the politics of infrastructure and development in the rapidly transforming city. They are also co-founders of Karachi LaJamia, an anti-institution seeking to politicise art education and explore new radical pedagogies and art practices. Karachi LaJamia is a nomadic space moving outside the institution to occupy public spaces in the city as sites of study, disrupting imperial modes of knowledge production and circulation. Their sessions are site specific and situate themselves in the larger social context to learn, share and produce knowledge collectively while exploring new ways of inhabiting, knowing and being with the city, and being with each other.

Fazal Rizvi is an interdisciplinary artist. His inquiry rests somewhere between the personal, the social and the political. Having spent a few years thinking about the materiality and immateriaity of the sea and its borders, Rizvi also keeps returning to the personal and familial as a place of trigger. Rizvi is currently beginning his long term engagement and research in reference to the glacial and mountainous terrain in the north of Pakistan, where he hopes to settle next year.
Rizvi graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2010. He has been an artist in residence at the Arcus Studios, Japan in2011, and was the recipient of the Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust award for Gasworks Studios Residency, London in 2014. He was also the recipient of the Pro Helvetia New Delhi studio residency in Zurich, 2020. He is currently a resident artist at the Jan van Eyck Academie, Netherlands for the year 2020-21.

Varda Nisar is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Art History, Concordia University. Born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan, her research attempts to understand the complicated nature of museums in Pakistan against the background of dictatorships. Growing up in a city where spaces for creative experiences were limited, she has established the Karachi Children’s Art Festival in 2014, and later headed the Educational Program for Karachi Biennale’s inaugural edition in 2017.