Karachi Biennale: Pakistan’s largest international, contemporary art forum kicks off

Fakir Zulfiqar from Badin plays Borindo music at the inaugural ceremony of the Karachi Biennale 2022 at the NJV School in Karachi, Pakistan, on October 29, 2022 (Photo Courtesy: KB22)
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Updated 02 November 2022

Karachi Biennale: Pakistan’s largest international, contemporary art forum kicks off

  • 2022 edition will run from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13 with exhibitions, talks and performances at nine venues
  • Artists will follow theme ‘Collective Imagination: Now and the Next,’ capturing integration of tech and art

KARACHI: The Karachi Biennale, Pakistan’s largest international, contemporary art forum, has kicked off in the port city, aiming to explore the intersection of art and technology and showcase works by artistes from Pakistan and 13 other countries, organizers of the show said.

This year’s edition of the event will run from October 31 to November 13, with international exhibitions, talks and performances at nine venues across Karachi.

The Karachi Biennale Trust (KBT) was founded in 2016 by a group of art professionals and educators as a platform to promote creativity, innovation and criticality in the visual arts. The Karachi Biennale connects “art, the city and its people, and acts like a temporary museum showcasing leading artists in Karachi,” the website for KBY says.

The first edition of the forum, in 2017, was themed ‘Witness’ and invited artists to introspect on their personal, political and social experiences through art and performances. The second biennale in 2019 focused on climate change and the devastating ‘development footprint’ on the ecology of Karachi and other cities. At this year’s festival, or KB22, artists will exhibit works under the rubric, ‘Collective Imagination: Now and the Next,’ capturing the expanding integration of technology with art.

“We felt technology would really push us in a different direction,” Niilofur Farrukh, KBY Managing Trustee, told Arab News at the festival’s inaugural ceremony on October 29, 2022.

Managing Trustee of Karachi Biennale Trust and Karachi-based art interventionist, Niilofur Farrukh, addresses the inaugural ceremony of the Karachi Biennale 2022 at the NJV School in Karachi, Pakistan, on October 29, 2022 (Photo Courtesy: KB22)

“We are celebrating 75 years of Pakistan and it is the youth who really need to be a part of art. Technology resonates with them and they are at the moment consumers of technology who go beyond that and become innovators or disruptors. That is what we would like out of this [KB22].”

The event also aims to connect the past and the present “so, a lot of our work is installed in heritage sites,” Farrukh said.

Faisal Anwar, a new-media artist who is the curator of KB22, said this year’s theme was a “reflection of contemporary movements across the globe” where technology and social media were shaping the human and artistic experience.

Curator of KB22, Faisal Anwar, speaks at the inaugural ceremony of the Karachi Biennale 2022 at the NJV School in Karachi, Pakistan, on October 29, 2022 (Photo Courtesy: KB22)

“From the Islamic golden age and European Renaissance art to contemporary and the New Media art, artists as alchemists, scientists, engineers and creative innovators have embraced technology to find original and creative ways of expression,” Anwar told Arab News. “My inspiration was to bring together artists from all over the world to share those stories with people of Karachi and globally as well to celebrate that movement.”

Pakistani artists participating in KB22 include Amin Gulgee, Yasir Darya and the KCR (Karachi Community Radio) Studio, to name a few, while the international artist lineup includes Canadian art collective Audio Placebo Plaza (Julia E Dyck, Erin Gee, Vivian Li), Paris-based visual artist Justine Emard and Spanish artist Solimán López.


Artist Amin Gulgee's installation, the Memory Room, at the Karachi Biennale, Karachi, Pakistan, on October 29, 2022 (Photo courtesy: Haya Faruqi)

“For this biennale, I have done an installation called the ‘Memory Room’ and then there will be a performative work on ‘The Forgotten March’,” Gulgee, who was the curator of KB17, said. “I want it to be an experiential installation and evoke all the senses — sight, sound, touch, smell.”

The nine venues for this year’s biennale include Hamid Market, NJV School, Jamshed Memorial Hall, Sambara Gallery, and the IVS Gallery at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture in the southern part of Karachi. All exhibits and 26 immersive art projects are free for members of the public who will get to experience virtual reality, artificial intelligence and sensory, kinetic and creative computing in the works on display.

Chitrali born rubab player Irfan Taj plays rubab alongside a mechanized Chitrali Sitar at KCR's installation, Saaz | ساز during the inaugural ceremony of Karachi Biennale 2022 at the NJV School in Karachi on October 29, 2022. (Photo Courtesy: KB22)


Karachi’s ‘seafood heaven’ offers unique gastronomical experience to fish lovers

Updated 05 February 2023

Karachi’s ‘seafood heaven’ offers unique gastronomical experience to fish lovers

  • Situated right next to Pakistan’s largest port, Seafood Street offers a variety of fish in different forms
  • The area housed only a few shops a few decades ago before it turned into a major spot for families

KARACHI: People in Pakistan’s southern Karachi port city usually avoid using the busy Napier Mole Road on winter evenings due to huge trailers causing traffic congestion, but hundreds of them can now be seen on this route in their vehicles while trying to reach to a street that is popularly known as “seafood heaven” to tantalize their tastebuds.

Known for its diverse and multicultural environment, Karachi offers a variety of cuisines that can be found in different corners of the city. Seafood Street, which is situated in the midst of centuries-old buildings near the country’s largest port, is yet another addition to the thriving food culture of the seaside metropolis.

A few decades ago, the area only housed a few shops, mostly serving fried fish cooked in large woks. But now, the street has dozens of small kiosks, or “fish points” as people prefer to call them, that serve croaker, silver pomfret, rasbora dandia and red snapper cooked in a variety of ways before being served with chutney and flatbread.

“My father started [selling] fish here,” Muhammad Rashid, owner of Rashid Seafood, told Arab News. “Then my brother came in. But when I took over, I started offering fish barbecue [using] my mother’s [recipe].”

The picture taken on February 2, 2023, shows a food joint called Rashid Seafood in Karachi, Pakistan. (AN Photo)

He said that his idea of adding grilled fish to the menu was an instant hit and changed the course of his business.

While the variety of fish offered by food stalls became the unique selling point of the street, Keamari Sea Food, another food joint, came up with the idea of creating a seating area for families. The model was also adopted by others, including Rashid. Muhammad Usman, the owner of the eatery who first took this initiative, said the street started becoming famous after families started visiting it in 2019.

“Another attraction of this market is that the prices are reasonable,” he said while speaking to Arab News. “The fish is fresh out of the water [because] the sea is close to us.”

Usman added that foreigners, including many Arabs, had started visiting the place after it earned its fame.

While people throng the street to enjoy a wide variety of fish, prawn karahi and crab soup are other major attractions for foodies amid winter season.

The picture taken on February 2, 2023, shows a man cooking crab soup in Karachi, Pakistan. (AN Photo)

“We tried grilled mushka [croaker] fish, grilled prawns, prawn karahi, and some white pomfret, and also their chow mein,” Siddiqa Asif, a visitor, said. 
“Everything was really good.”

Asif said it was a “great idea” to visit the place in winter, adding she wanted to try something more suitable for the season.

“It is quite far, and I think that’s also a kind of attraction for the people of Karachi that they are going somewhere to enjoy the weather and the food,” she said.

Afshan Asif, a housewife who visited the food street along with her family and ordered the famous prawn karahi, barbecue prawns, grilled croaker and red snapper, said it was her first experience with her family at the venue which had turned out to be “wonderful.”

“[It] felt good to come here,” she said. “Families have come over [too]. I didn’t expect to see families like this here, but it is good. The food is really good.

The weather is also better, and this is the best time to have fish or other seafood.”

The picture taken on February 2, 2023, shows a man grilling a fish in Karachi, Pakistan. (AN Photo)

Asad Aftab, a Karachi-based businessman, said the proximity of the street to the sea and old buildings surrounding it add to its value, especially to people his age.

“I see heritage buildings [and] walls here made of blocks that used to be there in old times,” he said, “I felt as if I went back into my past.”

Aftab said everyone had a choice, but he strongly recommended people to visit the street since they would enjoy it.

“I am sitting in a very relaxed environment,” he said after finishing his meal. “The weather is also good today, it’s cold. Fish tastes even better in this weather.”

“Next time, I will return in summer and see how it feels,” he continued. “But [in] winter, street food and Keamari are a great combination.”

Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib pays tribute to Paco Rabanne

Updated 04 February 2023

Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib pays tribute to Paco Rabanne

  • The eponymous label he exited more than two decades ago hailed him as "among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century"
  • Tunisian managing director of Paco Rabanne, Nadia Dhouib, paid tribute to the ‘legendary’ fashion designer

PARIS: Tunisian managing director Nadia Dhouib this week paid tribute to the Spanish-born designer Paco Rabanne, who died at the age of 88 on Friday.

Dhouib, who was named managing director of Paco Rabanne in March last year, shared a black and white picture of the fashion designer, best known for his metallic ensembles and space-age designs of the 1960s, on her Instagram stories, and wrote: “Legend.”

The eponymous label he exited more than two decades ago hailed him as “among the most seminal fashion figures of the 20th century.”

Rabanne dressed some of the most prominent stars of the 1960s, including French singer Francoise Hardy, whose outfits from the designer included a minidress made from gold plates and a metal link jumpsuit, as well as Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg, who were pictured in matching silver outfits.

Among his most famous looks were the fitted, skin-baring ensembles worn by Jane Fonda in Roger Vadim’s cult science fiction film “Barbarella.”

The death of Francisco Rabaneda y Cuervo, Paco Rabanne’s birth name, was confirmed by a spokesperson for Spanish group Puig, which now controls the fashion house.

“A major personality in fashion, his was a daring, revolutionary and provocative vision, conveyed through a unique aesthetic,” said Marc Puig, chairman and CEO of Puig.


A post shared by Paco Rabanne (@pacorabanne)

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women (to) clamor for dresses made of plastic and metal? Who but Paco Rabanne could imagine a fragrance called Calandre — the word means ‘automobile grill,’ you know — and turn it into an icon of modern femininity?" the group's statement said.

Born in a village in the Spanish Basque region in 1934, his mother was a head seamstress at Balenciaga. He died in Portsall in Brittany.

Rabanne grew up in France, where the family moved after Spanish troops shot dead his father, who had been a Republican commander during the civil war.

He studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. He started his career sketching handbags for a supplier to prestigious fashion houses including Givenchy and Chanel, as well as shoes for Charles Jourdan.

He then branched into fashion, designing garments and jewelry with unconventional materials such as metal and plastic.


A post shared by Nadia Dhouib (@nadia_dhouib)


His first collection, which he described as “unwearable dresses made of contemporary materials” were pieces made of strips of plastic linked with metal rings, worn by barefoot models at a presentation at the upscale Paris hotel George V.

The Paris cabaret Crazy Horse Saloon was his next venue, where models paraded his skimpy dresses and bathing suits while wearing hardhats.

While his innovation and futuristic designs won plaudits, his fascination with the supernatural prompted public derision at times. He was known for recounting past reincarnations, and in 1999, he predicted the space station Mir would crash into France, coinciding with a solar eclipse.

Surrealist Salvador Dali famously approved of his compatriot, calling him “Spain’s second genius.”

The designer teamed up with Spain’s Puig family in the late 1960s, launching perfumes that served as a springboard for the company’s international expansion.

“Paco Rabanne made transgression magnetic. Who else could induce fashionable Parisian women (to) clamour for dresses made of plastic and metal,” said Jose Manuel Albesa, president of Puig’s beauty and fashion division.

The label has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, under the creative direction of Julien Dossena, who has updated the house’s signature chainmail designs.

“We are grateful to Monsieur Rabanne for establishing our avant-garde heritage and defining a future of limitless possibilities,” the fashion house said in a statement.

The designer’s work with metallic plastic gave a “sharp edge” to women’s clothes, an effect that was “so much more than a New Look,” fashion historian Suzy Menkes said on Instagram Friday.

“It was rather a revolutionary attitude for women who wanted both to protect and assert themselves.”

(With Reuters and AP)


Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans

Updated 01 February 2023

Hijabi ‘indie mothers’ embraced by young Indonesian music fans

  • Originally formed 47 years ago as a Qur'an recital group, the all-female Nasida Ria band now numbers a dozen performers, fusing Arabic and traditional Indonesian dangdut music

JAKARTA: At a packed festival in central Jakarta, hijab-clad sexagenarian singer Rien Djamain bursts into an upbeat track about nuclear destruction to a crowd of thousands, mostly young Indonesians.
Behind the frontwoman of the all-female Nasida Ria band are her fellow musicians, dressed in silver and black sequined dresses, backing up her velvety vocals with bongos, violins, mandolins, bamboo flutes and tambourines.
“O cursed creator of the nuclear bomb, why do you invite the day of judgment?” she sang on the track “Bom Nuklir.”
Young concert-goers swung from side to side during the macabre ditty, shouting “mother!” at their favorite band members.
Originally formed 47 years ago as a Qur'an recital group, the band now numbers a dozen performers, fusing Arabic and traditional Indonesian dangdut music, which was once thought tacky and dated in cosmopolitan circles.
Their humorous Islamic pop tunes about serious themes, such as justice and human rights, have caught on with social media-obsessed young people looking for some levity in their playlists.
Riding the wave of Indonesia’s increasingly vibrant music scene, the band’s droll lyrics have gained them a certain notoriety.
Their songs are laden with similes and metaphors, comparing womanizers to “seditious bats” or describing how “monkeys like to carry rifles, humans like to show nipples.”
Twenty-three-year-old Fathul Amin said he thinks the band is “more than just cool.”

The Nasida Ria band performs on stage at a festival in Jakarta on January 6, 2023. (AFP)

“Why? Because all of the members are women who can play more than three musical instruments,” he said.
Screen grabs of Nasida Ria’s expressive words have been widely shared as memes, forging a connection between the band and the younger generation.
“That is how youths communicate nowadays, and that is OK. More importantly, it shows that our messages through the songs are well accepted,” Djamain told AFP.
“I am grateful that despite the mostly old members, Nasida Ria is still loved by the youths. That our music is still enjoyable to them.”

Music consumption in Indonesia is evolving, experts say, with listeners adding combinations of genres that include more traditional sounds — such as dangdut with Javanese lyrics or reggae-pop sung in eastern Indonesian dialects — to their Western favorites.
That growing trend has made Nasida Ria more relevant than ever, according to music journalist Shindu Alpito.
“The younger generations tend to celebrate music with a sense of humor. They are attracted not only to the musical aesthetics but also musical comedy,” he told AFP.
Dangdut music has been increasing in popularity, with acts now playing at festivals across Indonesia, performing for young audiences alongside rock bands, in addition to gigs for their usual crowds in smaller villages.
“A lot of youths in... Jakarta are re-embracing local music. Now, these types of music are what they call a guilty pleasure,” Alpito said.
“Islamic songs are usually serious, with lyrics carefully quoting Islamic teachings. However, Nasida Ria have charmed broader society through a language style that is easy to understand and amusing.”

The group capitalized on the demand for entertainment while the world was stuck indoors and concert venues were closed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nasida Ria’s youngest member, 27-year-old Nazla Zain, attributes their success to modern technology allowing people from all backgrounds to be exposed to their music.
“We are keeping up with the trend by using YouTube and other music applications,” she said.
“So now youths with mobile phones can listen to our songs. That might be a reason why they like us.”
They have seen their YouTube subscriber count surge six-fold since March 2020 to nearly 500,000.
They also boast nearly 50,000 listeners every month on streaming platform Spotify and 38,000 followers on Instagram.
“They are so cool as they still perform at a not-so-young age,” said 32-year-old metal and punk fan Ricky Prasetyo.
“No wonder many people call them the indie mothers.”

Pakistani singer Kaifi Khalil delights Jeddah audience with hit songs

Updated 29 January 2023

Pakistani singer Kaifi Khalil delights Jeddah audience with hit songs

  • Kaifi Khalil enjoyed a rapid rise to fame thanks to his mesmerizing vocals and soulful music
  • The singer said the love and warmth shown from the audience in Jeddah were 'spectacular'

JEDDAH: Rising Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil captivated audience members at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah.

The singer enjoyed a rapid rise to fame thanks to his mesmerizing vocals and soulful music. During the concert, he performed recent release “Kahani Suno 2.0” — which hit global world charts last year — along with other desi, folk and Sufi songs.

Speaking to Arab News, Khalil said the amount of love and warmth shown from the audience in Jeddah at his first international concert was “spectacular,” adding: “I had promised myself to fill the evening with a rendition of all my songs and tried my best to make sure every single person had a good time.”

He said: “My excitement hit the roof when I first learned that I will be performing in Saudi Arabia. I cannot describe this moment and the love I have received from the time I stepped into the country.”

Pakistani singer Kaifi Khalil performs at the WA Hotel in Jeddah on January 26, 2023. (Supplied)

Although he has performed many times back in Pakistan, Khalil was overwhelmed to see the response from an international audience, which has inspired him to return to the Kingdom.

“The constant cheering from the crowd was pure magic. When the performance was coming to an end, it dawned on me that everything that I felt was so precious that I will cherish it forever,” he said.

The constant cheering from the crowd was pure magic. When the performance was coming to an end, it dawned on me that everything that I felt was so precious that I will cherish it forever.

Kaifi Khalil

After Khalil’s music went viral last year, the singer became an inspiration to many, with children, teenagers and adults attending in the Jeddah concert.

One concertgoer described the event as a “magical night,” adding: “I don’t know how many times I have listened to Kaifi Khalil’s songs. To watch him perform live was a dream come true moment. He has such a soulful voice that made the entire hall sing along with him.”

Mohammed Abdullah, another fan, said: “I was so excited to experience the vibe and music of Kaifi Khalil. He is totally a gem in the music industry. Besides, I would like to extend gratitude to the organizers for the very well executed event as we could watch him clearly from our seats.”

Alongside Khalil, the event also included versatile singers Abida Hussain and Saleem Rifiq.

Fans react as Pakistani singer Kafii Khalil performs onstage in Jeddah on January 26, 2023. (Supplied)

Nosheen Waseem, founder of Nosheen Arts Culture Center, which oversaw the concert, said that the center aim to take the entertainment industry in the Kingdom to the “next level.” The event was organized to mark the successful completion of the first year of NACC, which involved organizing a range of nonprofit events.

Salman Lodhi and Talha Abdul Ghafoor, who organized the event, said: “The turnout was incredible — around 300 people attended the musical night. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone had a great time and the audience was on their feet for the entire performance.”

ULTRA Abu Dhabi music festival releases lineup of headliners for debut edition

Updated 28 January 2023

ULTRA Abu Dhabi music festival releases lineup of headliners for debut edition

LONDON: The international music festival, ULTRA Worldwide, has announced the first wave of headliners set to play the inaugural edition of ULTRA Abu Dhabi on March 4-5 at Etihad Park.

“Multi-award winning and platinum-record selling artist Afrojack is no stranger to headlining ULTRA Main Stages across the world, and will be on hand to deliver yet another high-octane set,” organizers said.

“Responsible for some of the biggest hits in the world, Grammy-nominated Calvin Harris will bring the beats to Yas Island for one of his signature high-energy sets (and) Dharma Worldwide boss KSHMR will whip the crowd into a frenzy with his culture-crossing sonics,” they also said.

Gud Vibrations label co-founder NGHTMRE will appear on the Main Stage with his signature blend of electronic music and producer Skrillex, who has won eight Grammy Awards — more than any other electronic dance music artist, will bring his shapeshifting soundscapes to the festival.

ULTRA Abu Dhabi will also host ULTRA’s underground techno and house concept RESISTANCE, featuring Drumcode founder and Swedish techno titan Adam Beyer.

“Producer and EXHALE label boss Amelie Lens will return to the Middle East to deliver her mesmerising blend of techno, while British legends Sasha_John Digweed bring decades of dance floor expertise to Abu Dhabi,” they added.

Etihad Park, located on Yas Island, is the largest open-air venue in the region and one of the world’s fastest growing leisure and entertainment destinations.

“ULTRA Worldwide sets the benchmark when it comes to delivering the ultimate festival experience, combining top-tier talent, cutting-edge technology and large-scale productions,” the statement said, adding: “As the most international music festival brand boasting active events on all six inhabited continents, it’s no surprise that ULTRA Worldwide’s Middle East debut will be one of the most highly anticipated events across the UAE this year.”

The three-day festival will offer a premium general experience pass that allows access holders to dedicated entrance gates, toilets, food and beverage stands, as well as a private lounge area. It will also offer VVIP passes at both stages.