By Ar. Mehreen Mustafa
The 9th International THAAP Conference titled “Art, Tolerance and Democracy” was held from 2nd-3rd November 2018 at 43-G, Gulberg-III, Lahore . The Conference was organized by THAAP in collaboration with the Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore.
The Institute for Art and Culture is a newly built, tri-lingual Liberal Arts Institute based in Lahore. The multi-purpose Institute started operating in the month of September 2018 with its pioneer batch. THAAP 9th International Conference provides a formal platform where papers were discussed on the theme of “Art, Tolerance and Democracy” and an in-depth dialogue took place between writers, scholars and students. Scholars from diverse fields and delegates from Austria, Australia, Indonesia, UK, India and Pakistan took part in the conference. The Conference included 7 paper reading sessions and an open mic session. The THAAP photography exhibition and Performances in the light of theme i.e. “Art, Tolerance and Democracy” was part of the Conference program.
The introduction session of 9th International THAAP conference was initiated by Prof. Sajida Haider Vandal , an educationist and architect who is currently serving the Institute for Art and Culture as Vice Chancellor and THAAP as CEO . She explained the mandate of THAAP, applauded the secretariat and volunteers and welcomed international and Pakistan guests and speakers.
Session 1 of 9th International THAAP Conference was presided over by Prof. Dr. Muhammad Waseem, Professor of Political Science at Department of Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences.
The 1st paper of the session presented by Prof. Sadia Pasha Kamran titled “Intellectual Diversity and Acceptance of Thought in Mughal India: Revisiting illustrations from Akbarnama” explored the notion of tolerance and acceptance reflected through illustrations illustrated by artists affiliated with diverse backgrounds in Akbar’s regime. Prof. Dr. Tariq Rahman, who presented his retrospective on “Art, Tolerance and Democracy” and shared his views on the subject, presented the 2nd paper of the session.
The second paper reading session of the 9th International THAAP Conference was presided over by Prof. Dr. Tariq Rahman, Dean, School of Education, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore. Dr. Ofita Purwani presented the 3rd paper of the Conference titled “Arts and Democratic spaces in the city of Surakurta 2008-18 and their role in turning the City of riots into the city of Tolerance”. She analysed how a city famous for its riots and royal discomfort upon contemporising its traditional views was able to transform into a tolerant city.
The 4th paper of the Conference was authored by Ar. Samman Qayyum and was read by Ar Aabidah Shuja Ali titled “Local Interventions in different contexts of Cairo and Karachi”. The author examined the emergence of local group interventions as response to the lack of proper civic management supervised by local government.
The 3rd session of the 9th International THAAP Conference was chaired by Prof. Dr. Gulzar Haider, Dean, Razia Hassan School of Architecture, Beaconhouse National University, Lahore.
The 5th paper of the Conference titled “Laying the foundations: A case study of Karachi Biennale 2017 Educational Program” by Varda Nisar , read by Khuwaja Amish Hassan explained how Karachi biennale by acting as a platform for training art teachers and creating an understanding of art is laying the foundation for “Art, Tolerance and Democracy”
The 6th paper of the Conference was presented by Gurdun Wallenbock . Her paper titled “Cultural Formats for Intercultural Opportunities: Can Curators be Peace-workers?” discussed the role of curator as someone who is more than one simply the custodian of art. She employed personal experience and the work of Eduard Glissant to develop a deeper understanding of his research before opening the room to discussion.
The fourth session, which was the last session of the day was chaired by Prof. Shahid Nadeem from the School of Digital and Cinematic Arts, Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore. The 7th paper of the Conference titled “Hence, a Protagonist –Searching Traits that defines it” was presented by Naintara Abulfazal. The paper analysed the traits of a protagonist and discussed the impact of time, context and place on the traits defining qualities of protagonist. The last paper of the session was presented by Siddharth Pandey, titled “Cinematic Subtleties and visual Veracities: The politics of Aesthetics in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaawat”, Mr. Pandey explained the visual and audio aesthetics of Padmaawat evaluated as a work of fiction instead of one based on historical facts.
On 3rd Day , the 5rd Session of the 9th international THAAP conference was chaired by Prof. Mushtaq Soofi from the School of Culture and Language, Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore.
Prof Shahnawaz Zaidi opened the sessions by reciting a collection of poems on Art and Tolerance. The 10th paper of the 9th International THAAP Conference was presented by Prof. Jakelin Troy, titled “Not Just another Song and Dance: Aboriginal People performing ‘Corroborees’ in Australia as Political and Social activism” Prof. Jakelin explains the social and political exclusion of the aboriginal community and the social racism and communal exclusion they have to face. She discussed how the community is performing traditional dance form, the ‘Corroborees’ as a medium to raise their concerns and voice their protest.
The 6th Session of the 9th International THAAP Conference 2018 began with Prof Dr Neelam Naz, Chairperson Department of Architecture, University of Engineering and Technology, Lahore. The 11th paper of the conference was presented by Mr Raza Naeem, titled “The Socialist Sufi of Sindh: Tolerance and radical democracy in 17th Century Sindh” explains the presence and execution of a radical democracy structure back before any of these ideas were presented in first world countries.
The 12th paper on “ Kabir Bhagat: A Sufi poet of syncretic and humanist tradition in pre-colonial India and his Influence on Shah Latif” was presented by Mr Noor Ahmed Janghi in which he explains Sufism as a role model structure for a humanitarian society.
The last session of the 9th International THAAP Conference was chaired by Prof. Pervaiz Vandal , Director THAAP and Pro Vicechancellor IAC The session of the Conference began by 13tg paper, presented by Ar. Mehreen Mustafa. Her paper titled “The indifferent A(4)rt” highlighted the role of public art and public space in developing a convivial ,democratic and tolerant society. 14th paper of the Conference was presented by Ar. Amtul Mateen Ayesha titled “Art and the Idea of Spatial Autonomy: On Belonging in a Quasi-Public space and Art as a Medium to restore Lahore Fort as Memorial palimpsest.” The last paper of the 9th International THAAP Conference and was presented by Asif Mehmood Rana titled “’Ultimate’ Tolerance in Crisis: Jain Heritage in Pakistan”. Mr Asif ‘s research highlighted the negligence in the preservation of Jain architecture and culture that holds a great sense of humanity.
The closing session of Thaap 9th International Conference 2018 included briefing on the future plans of THAAP by Prof Pervaiz Vandal. The conference was summed up by Prof. Sajida H. Vandal’s closing address. And the end the Chief Guest Prof Dr Muhammad Nizamuddin , Chairman Punjab Higher Education Commission shared his remarks on the conference and awarded certificates to paper presenters, volunteers and organizing body.