Karachi Biennale 2017 features at Habib University

The Center of Media and Design (CMD) at Habib University recently hosted a talk to introduce the first ever Karachi Biennale to the HU community, along with the general audience. The event, held on Friday April 1st, was to get the conversation rolling about what a Biennale is, how it is conducted, what it entails, and what’s in store for Karachi’s first ever Biennale to be held in 2017. It was also to ensure the HU community gets involved through the Public Outreach Program as well as becoming a part of it through their own projects and ways of expressions.

Nilofar Farrukh, from the Karachi Biennale board, introduced the concept of the event to the audience through a succinct presentation, which focused on what a biennale generally features. “A Biennale happens every two years, and its main focus is in stories of its host city, its concerns and history”, she said. The biennale that is in the works for being conducted next year is to ensure there is a meaningful engagement with the city, to connect its people to the space they inhabit. Biennales are usually held in halls, auditoriums and the like, but have recently been utilizing improvised spaces like museums, street corners, even mosques and religious places.


The point is to connect to the urban landscape of the city, to make it relative to the local narrative. Biennales can have a special focus, such as print-making, or contemporary art, but is also meant to push social and political ideas forward. It focuses on exhibitions, education programs, workshops, seminars or outreach programs.

Masuma Halai Khwaja, Director of Public Outreach for the Karachi Biennale also took the stage, and went through the previous events held through their programs.

Karachi is a city that has layers, and we feel the Biennale is the perfect avenue to penetrate them. Art is a forum that can change mindsets, you see installations in public spaces literally cause people to change their behaviors.

This is what the Biennale aims to achieve, and have been on the path of doing at several global locations. The Karachi Biennale is an extension of the international chapters, and will host several different activities such as “Photo Voice project”, Artist meet and greets, talks on Urban Regeneration, Workshops and the like. Previously, through the public outreach programs, several creative and meaningful community projects have already taken place. One of these were held in Orangi Town where primary schools hosted a team from Berlin for different workshops.


This time around, Marvi Mazhar along with several nationally and internationally renowned artists are set to participate in Biennale events.  As Ms. Masuma Halai Khwaja concluded, “Karachi is a breeding ground for creativity, and we aim to celebrate and promote its vibrancy by putting it on the art map of the world, use art as a catalyst for social change through the Karachi Biennale 2017”.


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