BC Partners with Koel Gallery for Climate Art Exhibition – Pakistan

KARACHI: The British Council and Koel Gallery have teamed up to launch the project exhibition ‘Saahil Ki Kahaaniyan – Stories from the Coast’ at Koel Gallery in Karachi on Friday 12 August. The exhibition, which runs until August 19, features multidisciplinary works that aim to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on Pakistan’s coastal areas, particularly its fragile mangrove ecosystem, with a view to promoting sustainable coastal development.

The project is part of the British Council’s Pakistan-UK Season: New Perspectives program to mark Pakistan’s 75th anniversary.

In February 2022, the project awarded grants to Pakistani artists exploring this theme through a variety of mediums, culminating in the exhibition held in close proximity to Pakistan’s Independence Day. The British Council organized a diverse selection committee, including experts from across the UK, to review applications – quite an intensive process, given the large number of high-quality applications received. After a detailed verification exercise, four creative teams were selected to work on this project.

Visual artist, curator and director of Gallery KOEL, Noorjehan Bilgrami, said: “I sincerely hope that these projects through the common platform of ‘Saahil Ki Kahaaniyan’, merging with Gallery KOEL, will start the process of collective research that records, investigates and spreads awareness of our heritage to be owned, protected and cherished.This is a start for this exciting work to continue.

Artist Mahera Omar presented a silent cinematic journey through a delicate wetland ecosystem on the shores of an industrial city, documenting precious biodiversity that is in grave danger of extinction in her project titled “Kabhi aisaybhihotahaikekinare doob jate hain…”. Marvi Mazhar, Abuzar Madhu and Swalay Muhammad presented “Milaap”, an exploration of the sacred geography of the urban/rural estuary where the river meets the coast, focusing on Khizr, the Darya Shah, whose coordinates are sometimes imaginary on liquid lands in the form of astana, a space promised to protect the coast from climatic and human infrastructural disruptions. Taqi Shaheen and Sara Khan Pathan worked on ‘The Shape of Island’, a research project to design ‘Machi Wachi’ – a board game that acts as a storytelling interface for reflection and ecological understanding of the scarcity of natural resources around the island of Bhit. While Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Janan Sindhu presented “BulhanNameh”, a series of immersive fabric and video installations that speak to the plight of one of Pakistan’s most shy animals, the Indus river dolphin, as well as communities that have played a key role in its conservation.

British Council Pakistan Arts Director Laila Jamil said: ‘Saahil Ki Kahaaniyan’ has been a very exciting project for us – to have been among the selection of such wonderful artists and activists, to be able to see the variety of subjects they have chosen, their sensitive approaches, their in-depth research and their love of their respective fields of work – it has been a privilege to be part of their creative journey. We believe that art has the potential to challenge and change mindsets for a more sustainable and inclusive future. We are grateful to Koel Gallery for presenting this project and to the Rangoonwala Foundation for their continued support of the arts in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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