City in Context is a 4-day symposium that will take place at the Alhamra Arts Council, Lahore & Annemarie-Schimmel-Haus, Alliance Francaise De Lahore from the 1st to the 4th of December, 2016. The event will be hosted by the Goethe-Institut Pakistan, the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF), Beaconhouse National University and the Centre for Culture and Development (CKU). The symposium is open to public and entry is free for all.

City in Context will introduce a mix of workshops, talks, performances, discussions and exhibitions bringing together poets and writers, theoreticians, artists and architects, musicians, activists, urbanists and various other practitioners from diverse fields of study.

The symposium will endeavor to discuss and expand existing ideas and projects pertaining to the multifarious aspects of the urban realm, and to explore the wider connections that they draw with the world of art. The collaborative project will encapsulate three key sub-projects: Urbanities – Art and Public Space in Pakistan by the Goethe-Institut Pakistan and the Lahore Biennale Foundation; Stories We Tell (Aao Sunayein Kahaani) by the Beaconhouse National University – School of Visual Arts and Design (BNU – SVAD), the Centre for Culture and Development and the Lahore Biennale Foundation. It also introduces Lahore Biennale 01 through the first-ever public introductory session in Pakistan.

Urbanities – Art and Public Space in Pakistan is a critical exploration of the urban. Throughout 2016, the project incited discursive and artistic contributions and interventions related to Pakistan’s multidimensional urban space. Germany-based and Pakistani artists were invited to engage with Karachi and Lahore in an artist residency, and German-Spanish architecture collective carried out an investigative research project on informal urban ​design practices and collective technologies. The symposium presents research and works produced during the residencies, complemented by a series of engaging talks, performances and a workshop. International and local urbanists, artists and activists will recollect once more “the right to the city” in notions of community and practice, artivism and public art, environmentalism and contested space, along with multiple meanings of mapping.


Stories We Tell (Aao Sunayein Kahani) is an audio-visual storytelling project. For several months, story-sharing booths were placed in public spaces to collect and disseminate individual anecdotes and stories about experiences intrinsic to Lahore. Alongside this, a series of public talks titled ‘artSPEAK’ discussed themes emanating from the project. In a spirit of mutual exchange, a group of students from BNU also worked with members of the Mirasi community to elicit their perspective on the storytelling tradition. The concluding component as part of the symposium will consist of panel discussions and presentations with writers, practitioners and academics, along with an exhibition of collected audio-visual stories. It will end with a collaborative performance titled ‘Loki Kehnde​’ by renowned vocalist Ali Sethi and traditional musicians belonging to the Mirasi community.

Lahore Biennale 01 is to be hosted by LBF in 2017 – 2018. The curatorial premise of the biennale aims towards rethinking and reinventing existing biennale formats, dispelling the concept of “one grand exhibition”, and exploring fully the artist/public and gallery/public space dichotomies. Conversation is one of the pivotal components of the curatorial process. With critical discourse and debate at its core, Conversation will function not as a prelude or postscript to the event; rather, a coexisting mechanism that would initiate systems of experimental debate. The symposium presents the first public discussion session in Pakistan with the aim to contribute to the larger discourse surrounding the curatorial premise. The introductory seminar is designed as a think tank session, with the audience as participants in conversations with professionals from diverse backgrounds.


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