The Second Edition of the Lahore Biennale kicked off on the 26th of January 2020. A Biennale (Italian for biennial) is a public art event that takes place every two years and essentially transforms a city into a living art gallery. The first Lahore Biennale took place for a fortnight in March 2018 and attracted over a million visitors.
The second edition:
Lahore Biennale 2020 is significantly larger in scale and longer in duration – 12 major sites over 5 weeks – and hopes to attract over three million visitors. These sites include Mubarik Haveli, Summer Palace and Diwan e Aam in the Lahore Fort, Tollinton Market Museum, the National College of Arts, the Punjab Irrigation Department, the Punjab University College of Art & Design, Punjab Library, Bradlaugh Hall, the Punjab Institute of Languages and Culture (PILAC), Alhamra Cultural Complex, Gaddafi Stadium, and Pak Tea House.
The event will make sure that all the sites are preserved and protected:
The use of heritage sites in a sensitive and appropriate manner for cultural activities is critically important to keeping our history and traditions alive and relevant across generations. The Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF), which organizes the Biennale under the patronage of the Punjab Government (Department of Culture), has worked closely with the guidance of the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) to ensure that our heritage sites can be revitalized in the public imagination while being fully preserved and protected.
The forgotten history of Pakistan:
Bradlaugh Hall is one such site that is a forgotten cultural gem which the Biennale hopes to bring back to the public imagination. Named after Sir Charles Bradlaugh, a British MP who famously supported self-rule for the people of the sub-continent, Bradlaugh Hall hosted fiery speeches by pro-independence activists, including Maulana Barkat Ali, Mian Iftikharuddin, Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The adaptive reuse of such sites for Art-related activities can help rekindle their importance and allow us to reflect on the trials and tribulations we have gone through as a nation, especially relevant in today’s times.
Between the Sun and the Moon:
Lahore holds immense potential for art tourism as international cultural capital, a place which it has indisputably held in the past. This edition of the Biennale is titled Between the Sun and the Moon and is curated by Hoor al-Qasimi, director of the Sharjah Art Foundation and one of the art world’s most respected art curators.
LB02 aims to reconnect the Global South, bringing together more than 80 artists from over 40 countries and will help restore Lahore’s historic role as an international Centre for Arts and Culture. In conjunction with the Biennale, the prestigious International Biennale Association (IBA) will also hold its board meeting in the city of Lahore for the first time, placing the city front and centre in the international arts calendar.
The power of Arts and Culture as a moderating force and a cohesive bond for diverse societies is tangible. However, art’s potential as an engine for economic growth is less well-recognized. In addition to bringing in much-needed tourism, events like the Biennale, which are entirely free and open to the public, directly promote the country’s soft image and support the growth of galleries, museums and other cultural spaces, creating non-traditional economic activity that can make a vital contribution to the country’s GDP.
Pakistan is home to some of the most creative artists in the world. By providing an international platform in Lahore for the Arts, LB02 hopes to celebrate their creativity, help make connections between the global community of artists and art-lovers, and in doing so, create a new avenue for the city and the country’s growth.