Lahore is historically known as the City of Gardens. From Mughal monuments such as Shalimar Gardens and Hazuri Bagh, to magnificent examples from the colonial era like Bagh-e-Jinnah (formerly Lawrence Gardens) that envelopes the present-day Quaid-e-Azam Library, and also Jilani Park (formerly Race Course Park), green spaces have always been a central feature of Lahore’s urban fabric. Using that as a point of departure, the project aims to draw on local heritage by employing an approach that engages the surrounding community. Some of the questions that emerge are: How relevant are parks to Lahore in terms of heritage, at present? How are parks used and what can ‘art in the park’ add to one’s experience of it? And more broadly, what is the purpose of art in public spaces? We hope to find possible answers to such concerns in the form of a semi-permanent artistic intervention.
Rooted / پیوستہ (Paivasta)
Rooted/پیوستہ (Paivasta) is a public art project at Bagh-e-Jinnah (Lawrence Gardens), Lahore. Curated and commissioned by the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF) and British Council Pakistan, with generous support from the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Lahore, the project is second in the Art in Public Spaces series.
In December 2015, LBF and British Council Pakistan, sent out an open call inviting creative individuals and collectives in Pakistan to view Bagh-e-Jinnah through a critical lens, and submit proposals for an on-site, semi-permanent artistic intervention. The jury chose Lahore-based artists Unum Babar and Matt Kushan to work with Marc Cairns from the Glasgow-based creative studio Pidgin Perfect.
This collaborative artistic endeavor resulted in eight permanent artworks at various locations across the sprawling gardens; they reference, and have a resemblance to the heritage of Bagh-e-Jinnah itself. South of the Quaid-e-Azam Library, an Islamic star inlaid into the ground acts as a marble compass; a map leading the way to seven meticulously chosen sites. The destination of each of the seven routes is a Point of Contemplation, marked by a marble seat sited to inspire introspection and solitude. The project encourages the viewer to explore and personalize undiscovered spaces in the park dotted with rare and historic flora.
For the project launch on 3rd June 2016, the artists invited Olomopolo Media, a Lahore-based theatre and cultural organization, to create a piece of art referencing and complimenting Rooted/Paivasta. Using the marble compass as a stage, a mime performance invited the audience to experience stories expressed through bodily movements set to a collage of sounds. Also on display were temporary sculptures referencing the shared history of motifs, fabrics and crafts of Glasgow and Lahore. These were created by Lahori school children at Sanjan Nagar High School, in a workshop held by the artists themselves, supported by Rabtt.
Matt Kushan and Unum Babar have been collaborating ever since they met while completing their MFA at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. Before going to the USA as a Fulbright Scholar, Unum finished her BFA from the Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore, Pakistan, while Matt finished his from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Both artists have individual, multidisciplinary practices ranging from installation, photography and video to new forms of digital and interactive media. They are both currently living in Lahore and working at the Beaconhouse National University, where Kushan is a visiting faculty member and Babar is an Assistant Professor heading the Foundation Studies Department.
Pidgin Perfect is a creative studio based in Glasgow which works to place the community at the heart of projects; combining research, participation and design to help build better communities for everyone. They have presented projects at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, 2012 World Design Capital Helsinki, 2014 World Design Capital Cape Town and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Marc Cairns graduated with a Masters in Advanced Architectural Design from the University of Strathclyde. He has held the position of Director at Pidgin Perfect since 2011, delivering a wide range of public projects for clients such as the Glasgow Housing Association, Scottish Book Trust and the National Theatre of Scotland. He is also a Lecturer of MA Design at Edinburgh Napier University.
The British Council, Pakistan, is the United Kingdom’s international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations. They create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. They value diversity and difference, and work in over a hundred countries in the areas of Arts, Education and English, and have been working in Pakistan since 1948.
Parks and Horticulture Society (PHA) Lahore, formed in 1988, is a Lahore-district government body. It has been actively engaged in developing and regulating public parks, botanic gardens and the city’s landscape, helping to maintain Lahore’s age-old title as the city of gardens.
Olomopolo Media is a cultural and social production hub, pivoted around the organization, design and execution of performing arts and visual media. Their objectives include enhancing the value of visual and performing arts in facilitating social sensitization for public awareness, exploring narratives and addressing ethical development.
Rabtt is a social enterprise with a commitment to developing meaningful human connections; programs are designed to cater to students as well as educators from diverse backgrounds.
The Government of Punjab
Mian Shakeel, Director General PHA
Mian Khurram & the team of marble craftsmen
Team Pidgin Perfect