Naiza Khan Announced as First Artist to Represent Pakistan at La Biennale Di Venezia

Visuals | Carlotta Cardana

For the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Pakistan will present its inaugural pavilion, a solo project by the multi-disciplinary artist Naiza Khan. Khan (born 1968, Pakistan) lives and works between Karachi, Pakistan, and London, UK. Over the last ten years, Khan has looked at the transformations of sites such as the expanding Karachi harbour and Manora Island, foregrounding the dimensions of embodiment, ecology and habitation. Her practice is built upon a detailed process of research, documentation and mapping-based investigation of the island looking at how this reshaping reflects wider changes in the Global South. The project Manora Field Notes, curated by Zahra Khan, will immerse the viewer in life upon Manora Island according to the artist as translator and mediator. The work engages with multiple bodies of knowledge – archival material, historic myths, conversations with local communities and architectonic phenomena such as ruins and construction sites. It constitutes an archive of lived experience and reflects the shifting power dynamics within the landscape.

Zahra Khan comments: “Naiza’s practice, based upon research and observation, brings to life the unique nautical, multicultural and multireligious history of Manora Island, as a microcosm of larger Pakistan. I am thrilled to be working with Naiza on Pakistan’s first national pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia. She is the ideal artist to represent Pakistan on this exciting global stage and her work perfectly encapsulates the theme of Biennale Arte 2019.” Naiza Khan comments: “The project for Venice is a culmination of several years of exploration and research, looking at the material culture of Karachi, a port city, and its surroundings. Ideas of friction, optics and atmospheric climates emerge as central to my current concerns. I feel honoured to represent Pakistan and to share this new body of work, situating it within a larger conversation that links Venice to the Persian- Indian- Arab peninsulas through histories of empire and maritime trade.” Khan trained at The Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford, and the Wimbledon College of Art, London. She is continuing her studies at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths, University of London. Khan also acts as a Senior Advisor at the Department of Visual Studies, University of Karachi. Khan has exhibited internationally, including her critically acclaimed solo exhibition at the Broad Museum, Michigan (2013), the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT9), Brisbane (2018), and Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan at Asia Society Museum, New York (2009). Her work has also featured in major events including the Shanghai Biennale (2012) and Kochi Muziris Biennale (2016).

Naiza Khan, The Land Itself, 2014, Watercolour;

Pakistan’s participation in Biennale Arte 2019 is supported by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan, and organised by Foundation Art Divvy. Syed Jamal Shah, Director General of the PNCA, comments: “We are delighted to be bringing a Pakistan pavilion to La Biennale di Venezia for the very first time. The PNCA is dedicated to supporting contemporary artists and providing them with an international platform to showcase their work, and I can’t think of a better stage than Venice. We look forward to visitors from all over the world engaging with Naiza’s thought-provoking and captivating art.”

The Pakistan pavilion will be housed at TANARTE / SPAZIO TANA on Fondamenta de la Tanna, within close proximity to the Arsenale.

Artist Naiza Khan and curator Zahra Khan

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