Naiza Khan: Manora Field Notes at the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

TANARTE / SPAZIO TANA on Fondamenta de la Tanna, within close proximity to the Arsenale.
11 May – 24 November 2019
Tuesday – Sunday
11:00 – 19:00

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.

Naiza Khan is an established contemporary artist who lives and works between London and Karachi. She studied at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford and is currently a postgraduate researcher at the Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, London. Her work has been widely exhibited internationally, including the Lahore Biennale 01 (2018) , Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (2018), Art Basel Hong Kong (2017), Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2016), the Shanghai Biennale (2012)Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan at Asia Society, New York, USA (2009); Art Decoding Violence, XV Biennale Donna, Ferrara, Italy (2012); Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain (2010). Khan has been awarded residencies at the Institute for Comparative Modernities, Cornell University, USA; Gasworks, London, UK; and the Rybon Art Center, Tehran, Iran. As a founding member of the Vasl Artists’ Collective in Karachi, she worked to foster art in the city and participated in a series of innovative art projects in partnership with other workshops in the region and beyond. In addition, she has curated three exhibitions of Pakistani contemporary art, including The Rising Tide: New Directions in Art from Pakistan, 1990–2010 at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Karachi. Khan received the Prince Claus Award in recognition of her exceptional initiatives and activities in the fields of art and culture in 2013 and in the same year Khan had her first major retrospective: Karachi Elegies at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan. Trained as a printmaker, her practice extends across a range of media including oil painting, drawing, video and more recently, the performative speech act. Khan’s early concerns with the politics and aesthetics of the female body are now rooted to the embodied experience of geography, exploring the continuity and disjuncture between different terrains and their entanglements.

Zahra Khan is a curator who works with a focus on South Asian art. In her role as Curator and Director of Foundation Art Divvy, she continues to promote contemporary artists from Pakistan and build the organisation’s presence on the international art scene. Khan previously worked in art galleries and institutions including Ronald Feldman Fine Arts in New York and Sotheby’s and Blain|Southern in London. Khan is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and holds a Masters degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Foundation Art Divvy Foundation Art Divvy was established in 2016 as a platform to present and showcase contemporary art from Pakistan, both within the country and internationally. It is committed to organizing and supporting public art projects in Pakistan and focussing on arts education in order to foster a greater appreciation and understanding of contemporary art. ln April 2017, Foundation Art Divvy curated and organized Two Wings To Fly, Not One, the first museum exhibition in Pakistan of leading contemporary artists lmran Qureshi and Aisha Khalid, which was held to much acclaim at the National Art Gallery, PNCA, lslamabad. In March 2018, the Foundation mounted I, too, am a part of this history at The Fakir Khana Museum (FKM), Lahore, as a collateral event to the Lahore Biennale 01. This was the first time the historic FKM opened its doors to contemporary art, with the artists working with the historic and site-specific nature of the museum space.

Pakistan National Council of the Arts
The Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) was set up to spearhead the development of arts in Pakistan. Its aims to build a robust arts ecosystem by creating an environment conducive to the flourishing of the arts, where the arts are accessible to everyone and artists and art groups have the commitment, financial support and resource to excel at home, and on the world stage.
To build new audiences and broaden arts participation, the PNCA engages the wider community in the arts through outreach programmes targeted at different sectors of the population. It also endorses arts education programmes for artists and arts groups.

Manora Field Notes