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The hero of the day: Lahore Biennale 2020

Issue 51
Text | Sarah Cheema
Visuals | As mentioned

Perhaps its lady luck or maybe it’s written in the stars but the past few months have been very good to Lahore.  Starting out with being chosen to be part of UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network along with 65 other vibrant cities of the world, Lahore also got declared as the City for Literature for its pulsating literary and intellectual character. To further boost this accolade, it’s now playing host to the Lahore Biennale Foundation’s Art Extravaganza making it seem impossible for everyone to be anywhere but here.

Ofcourse, if you look up Lahore’s past and its rich history since time immemorial, it’s no surprise that Lahore has finally reclaimed its rightful place and rekindled its past glory which has always been synonymous with a rich culture comprising of great arts, scrumptious cuisines and acclaimed literature.

With the second time running, after a successful inaugural run in 2018, this time the Lahore Biennale is bigger, better and definitely the talk of the town, or rather, region. That being due to its curator, Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi’s wide scope of international experience being the founder and director of the Sharjah Art Foundation and the driving force behind the Sharjah Biennale, having put it on the global map. The choice of appointing an outsider to head the Biennale, however, was seen with raised eyebrows when the decision was announced last year, but this bold and calculated move by the Lahore Biennale Foundation was taken in order to make the event more influential and at par with the international art shows, and now it seems like the right decision. Even though a foreigner and not being familiar with Pakistani culture and its many predicaments per say, Al-Qasimi does seem to be fully acquainted with the problems and pitfalls of traditional societies such as her own, where one has to be very careful not to offend religious and moral boundaries.

“There are always sensitivities about the kind of work that you can put in public space but that is the same in Sharjah or anywhere else.”

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About the author:
Sarah K Cheema is an Architectus Verborum and Assistant Professor at the NCA, Lahore

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