Pavilion of Pakistan
Naiza Khan: Manora Field Notes
at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
The Pakistan National Council of the Arts and Foundation Art Divvy are delighted to present Manora Field Notes by the multi-disciplinary artist Naiza Khan. Curated by Zahra Khan, Director of Foundation Art Divvy, this solo presentation marks Pakistan’s first participation in the Biennale Arte.
Manora Field Notes showcases a new body of work that brings together ideas of embodiment, ecology and optics. The presentation will immerse the viewer in life upon Manora Island, part of a small archipelago off the harbour of Karachi. Over the last decade, Khan has traversed Manora on foot, documenting its material culture, public space and maritime past, and has witnessed the slow erasure of the island’s history and natural ecology. The artist’s prolific archive of images, objects and observations engage with multiple bodies of knowledge – historic myth, conversations with local communities and architectural phenomena such as ruins and construction sites – creating an archive of lived experience which reflects the entangled landscapes she is crossing.
The Pavilion of Pakistan will unfold across three interconnected spaces. Central to the installation are archival materials, found by Khan in the ruin of the 19th-century Manora Observatory. These include the 1939 India Weather Review, a record of weather reports from across British India, which form the basis of a sound piece and a series of cast objects in brass. Manora Field Notes will also include a multi-screen video installation, created from footage shot on the island over the past decade, bringing together narratives exploring geographies and shared histories.
Responding to the overarching theme of the 58th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia May You Live in Interesting Times, curator Zahra Khan explains: “Artists speak clearly and powerfully about issues of identity, community, migration and history. Pakistan’s presentation encourages the vision of the artist as a lens through which the public can see the world, offering viewers a glimpse of the sights and sounds of daily life upon Manora Island and by extension into Pakistan and the surrounding landscape.”
This is reflected in the installation’s use of telescope imagery, inspired by the vintage telescopes set up on Manora beach for tourists, which embody ideas of shifting perception. Like Manora Island, the pavilion will be an observation point from which to view similar transformations across the region.
Naiza Khan comments: “Manora Field Notes, and the expansive research I have done over the years, is in some ways a homage to the island. At the same time, it moves through the materiality of that space, inviting questions about labour and production, optics and erasure and frictions between old and new infrastructures.”
The Pavilion of Pakistan would like to thank the Qazi Foundation and the Mahvash & Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation for their support.
The Pakistan pavilion will be housed at TANARTE / SPAZIO TANA on Fondamenta de la Tanna, within close proximity to the Arsenale.
Pakistan in Venice has been presented by
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