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Karachi Biennale Artwork Shines at London’s Land Body Ecologies Festival

Artists from the Karachi Biennale 2022 captivated audiences at the recently held Land Body Ecologies Festival in London, showcasing their innovative and boundary-pushing creations.

One of the highlighted artworks at the festival was Microtonal, a prize-winning piece from KB22, created through a collaboration between UK-based art studio Invisible Flock and two artists from Badin. The Karachi Biennale Trust expressed immense pride in the inclusion of this artwork, demonstrating how music can transcend geographic borders to produce unique, futuristic, and internationally acclaimed art.

The festival, which featured teams from India, Uganda, Kenya, Thailand, and the UK, delved into the deep connections between health and the ecosystem through various forms of artistic expression, including performances, workshops, food, music, film, and storytelling.

The journey of Microtonal began prior to the Third Karachi Biennale, held in November of the previous year. Invisible Flock approached Faqir Zulfiqar, a folk musician from Badin, and Allah Jurio, a potter from Badin and one of the few remaining makers of the Borindo, an ancient wind instrument from Sindh, for a collaborative partnership.

The Borindo, made of clay and resembling an insect’s nest, holds cultural significance but is facing the threat of extinction. Its melodious sound reflects the joys and sorrows of the people of Sindh. Through the combined innovation and creativity of the team, the sound of the Borindo was extended using technology. Microtonal took the form of an interactive, data-driven sound sculpture created from 200 Borindos, incorporating microtonal notes, clay, circuitry, generative sound, and performance.

The collaboration resulted in the creation of a unique tech-based exhibit, Microtonal, which went on to win the KB22 Engro Juried Art Prize. Facilitated by the Karachi Biennale Trust and with support from the British Council, Zulfiqar traveled to London in June 2023 to reunite with Invisible Flock for the Land Body Ecologies Festival and perform for a global audience.

During the festival’s inaugural ceremony at the Wellcome Collection on June 21, Zulfiqar played the Borindo, captivating the audience with its soul-stirring melodies. Meanwhile, Microtonal was housed at The Crypt Gallery of the St Pancras Parish Church, engaging visitors with its interactive and transformative experience.

The presence of Karachi Biennale artwork at the Land Body Ecologies Festival not only highlighted the immense talent and creativity of Pakistani artists but also showcased the power of collaboration and the ability of art to transcend cultural and geographical boundaries. This cross-cultural exchange and recognition underscored the universal language of art and its potential to foster understanding and appreciation among diverse audiences.

The success of Microtonal and its journey from Karachi to London serves as an inspiration for future artistic creations, emphasising the importance of preserving cultural heritage while pushing artistic boundaries. The Karachi Biennale Trust continues to support and encourage such collaborations, promoting the vibrant art scene in Pakistan and encouraging meaningful connections with the global artistic community.

Feature image courtesy: karachibiennale

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