Tag Archives: arts

Song Of Lahore: Pakistan’s Musicians Affirm Their Place In A Country That Threatens To Forget Them

By Akbar Shahid Ahmed

Asad Ali, the guitarist in the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, is one of the musicians featured in "Song of Lahore." | Mobeen Ansari

Asad Ali, the guitarist in the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, is one of the musicians featured in “Song of Lahore.” | Mobeen Ansari

The value of one’s soul is hard to measure, but Baqir Abbas, a musician in the Pakistani city of Lahore, has it worked out for himself. Abbas’ soul is slightly less precious to him than the delicately designed bamboo flutes he carves. “All the stories of the world will play from it, God willing,” he says, before kissing his latest instrument and touching it twice to its forehead.

Abbas explains his philosophy in “Song of Lahore,” a new documentary about an intergenerational community of musicians skilled in their own mix of traditional Pakistani music and the Western orchestral scores demanded by Lahore’s once-booming film industry. He and his fellow musicians “find God in music,” Abbas says.

Their critics do not, and the very act of practicing their craft now makes them targets in a more conservative Pakistan. Followers of the increasingly influential, hardline Deobandi school of thought in Sunni Islam consider music to be sinful and musicians to be apostates who have no place in an avowedly Muslim nation.

“Song of Lahore” is powerful because it shows these musicians do have a place in Pakistan.

Last week, the 82-minute documentary won multiple standing ovations and a joint second place in the Documentary Audience Award category at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. But the feature’s greatest triumph is that it proves the Deobandis wrong: These musicians are quintessentially Pakistani and essential to the nation’s cultural identity, Islam and all.

Worshippers gather at Lahore's historic Badshahi Mosque on April 25, 2015.

Worshippers gather at Lahore’s historic Badshahi Mosque on April 25, 2015.

Progressive Pakistanis who value their country’s musical heritage have been making that case for decades. Continue reading

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Lahore on a fantastical journey

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This article was originally published in TNS

The Lahore Biennale, expected to be the premier showcase of contemporary arts from all over the world, is all set to have a finale in 2016

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Imagine a walk through the fabulousness of Venice, feel like a Venetian or a traveller, drown in the city’s hopeless romance — without having to fly over continents, without braving the mundane drudgery of travel… ah, really, it’s so dreamlike!

Renowned contemporary artist Rashid Rana is about to take Lahoris on this fantastical journey. His installation, an extension of his Venice Bienalle project, ‘My East is Your West’, to be put up in Liberty Market soon, will replicate Plazzo Benzon in Venice. This space in Lahore will feature a video projection of live feed from a mirrored space in Venice. The backdrop will be the same, yet you will view completely different faces and activities on either side of the world. It will be in one sense a replication and yet a dislocation of space.

Rana’s artwork, and a bundle of other art activities, will together form the Lahore Biennale, which is expected to be the premier showcase of contemporary arts from all over the world.

Set up in 2013, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF), a non-profit organisation, run by a team of prominent artists and curators of national and international acclaim, through their initiative of Lahore Biennale hope to cover “critical sites for experimentation in visual expression and experience, seeking to challenge and expand the scope of both”, explains the Foundation’s manifesto.

“We want to bring art in the public sphere. We want to break institutional boundaries, reach out to as many people as possible, and encourage platforms where dialogue can go on,” says Qudsia Rahim, executive director LBF, while sitting in a square room with white walls in a senior architect’s office in Lahore’s Muslim Town. Her team comprising young art school graduates surrounds her. Talking on their behalf too, Rahim excitedly adds, “We just want to have fun with arts”. Continue reading

Lahore has shaped and moulded me says Iram Zia

Malik Omaid

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“I have been in the field of design education for almost 23 years now. I was born, brought up, educated, and married in Lahore. I live here and eventually whenever that is, hope to die here too. I feel Lahore has shaped and moulded me into what I am today. Data Darbar, Mian Mir Sahab’s Mazaar, Bibi Pak Daman, Mela Chiraghaan, Masjid Wazir Khan’s tiled decoration, Maryam Zamani mosque’s frescoes, Taaveez Dhaagay on different mausoleums around Lahore, hence my thread and Taweez collection of various motif and design all speak profoundly of the cultural and the socio-political concerns that are owned and celebrated in my works. Shahi Qila’s Haathi darwaza, the old city with all its enclosed gardens and alleys, colonial buildings on the mall, Shalamar Bagh’s picture wall, Alhamra by Nayyar Ali Dada, Lahore Museum, National College of Arts, popular Punjabi food, the cinema hoardings that I experienced when going to school on a Tonga, the trucks and the colorful imagery ….these are all part of my being. This imagery constantly informs my work. The basant that we have lost, how we no longer can accept and appreciate diversity is an ongoing tragedy for me, I am constantly incorporating these in my works through metal, stones and cloth.”

See complete article here.

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Shazia Sikander Receiving Medal of Art from Hillary Clinton

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Shazia Sikander

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Shazia Sikandar Late 2000’s

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Shazia Sikandar Mid 2000’s

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TALIBAN THREATS ASIDE, THE SHOW GOES ON IN LAHORE

Despite the threats from Taliban, the show goes on in Lahore. Click on the link below to watch an interesting report about threats and difficulties faced by artists and theater workshops. Must watch:  http://vjmovement.com/truth/542

I’ve gone back to childhood in Lahore: Artist Krishen Khanna

In his new series of works, leading Indian contemporary artist Krishen Khanna has travelled back in time to his days in pre-partition Lahore, which today lies in Pakistan.
“They are mostly a recollection of events that I have seen in my early childhood – when tension between the British rulers and Indian freedom fighters was escalating,” Delhi-based Khanna told IANS in an interview.
The 84-year-old artist is preparing for a retrospective exhibition at the Lalit Kala Akademi Jan 23 to be organised by the Mumbai-based online gallery Saffronart.
Khanna has completed five large format oil compositions in monochrome, which he says are an extension of his memories of Maclagan Road in Lahore, where he lived in a cosmopolitan neighbourhood “with Parsis, Sikhs, Christians and Muslims”. Continue reading

A singing Romanian gypsy falls in love with Lahore

European artist fears terrorism will shatter her dreams

* Jina Rubik says Pakistan cultural heart of subcontinent, suffering because of insecurity

By Afnan Khan

LAHORE: A European artist has found herself trapped between her passion to learn and promote music and performing arts of the subcontinent, and the current downfall of arts and culture due to terrorism in Pakistan. Continue reading

World Performing Arts Festival: attracting large crowds


By Ali Usman

LAHORE: The World Performing Arts Festival received its largest crowd of the year on Sunday, as many families availed the holiday to visit the fair and observe the performances on offer.

However, most families seemed to differ on which performances they should attend and several people were seen choosing different exhibitions and plays to watch on their own, while their family members attended different performances.

Iqbal Ahmed, one such viewer at the festival, said that he and his family had arrived at the festival together but upon reaching it had differed on what they should watch. He said that they had decided to go their separate ways and watch the shows that interested them individually instead of watching the same things. Ahmed, who was watching the classical dance performance, said that his wife and daughter had decided to attend the puppetry show, while his son had preferred to watch drama. Continue reading