The first artSPEAK in the Stories We Tell (Aao Sunayein Kahani) series, saw the public gathering to discuss parks, public spaces and art, on April 21, 2016, at Bagh-e-Jinnah (Lawrence Gardens). Commonplace words like ‘audience’ and ‘public space’ were picked apart in the light of art and various questions pertinent to the topic were asked and answered by the audience, academics and artists: What is public art? What is public space? What is the significance of art in public space? How can practicing art in the public realm help build resilient communities? How can the barrier between practitioner and public be dissolved? As part of LBF’s wider objectives, this artSPEAK hoped to dissolve barriers and bring conversations about art into the public realm – encouraging the audience to interact and communicate in a setting as accessible as a public park.
Zarmina Rafi (Head of Foundation, LBF) moderated the discussion and speakers included artist Farida Batool, curator Mariam Zulfiqar and two members of the Mirasi community, Ghullam Sajjad Puppoo and Abdul Hafeez, alongside Rashid Rana and Qudsia Rahim from LBF, and Bilal Sami, Umer Hameed and Rabiya Jalil from the BNU team. Sajjad and Hafeez also reflected on their collaborative project with BNU and how it had helped to reinvigorate them as a community.
Lahore based visual artist and researcher in visual culture, Farida Batool completed her Doctorate in Media and Film in 2015 from SOAS, University of London. In 2003, she acquired her Master of Arts in Art History and Theory (Research) from the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia, and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan in 1993. Batool has taught in many universities, including University of New South Wales, Australia, Beaconhouse National University, and National College of Arts, Lahore where she is currently officiating the Department of Communication and Cultural Studies. She travelled extensively and presented papers and presentations at international conferences and workshops including Yale University USA, Society for Cinema and Media Studies, Montreal, Canada, Oxford University, UK, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, Itau Cultural, Sao Paulo, Brazil, UNESCAP Jordan, UNIFEM Bangladesh, and has published papers and articles including authoring a book on figurative representation in Pakistani popular culture titled as, Figure: the Popular and Political in Pakistan, 2004. Batool is interested in developing a comprehensive cultural critique of Pakistani, Islamic, and Western modes of everyday life, which is also reflected in her recent short film for the BBC online called The Clash of Masculinities. She has exhibited her work at various renowned art galleries and museums, both in Pakistan and in major cities around the world, namely London, New York, Portugal, Palo Alto, Mumbai, Sydney and Egypt.
Mariam Zulfiqar is an independent curator based in London. Mariam’s research interests include moving image, art in the public domain, and discourses around public spaces and the history of ideas. Mariam has an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London. Her BA is in Public Art & Design from Chelsea College of Art and Design, London. Mariam has worked with various international organisations such as Film and Video Umbrella, Art on the Underground – the official art programme of London Underground, and King’s College London. Prior to her Masters at the Royal College of Art, Mariam worked alongside the diplomatic sector to present events and exhibitions at cultural institutions across the UK. Mariam has guest lectured at international and UK based educational institutions including Goldsmiths College, the Royal College of Art and mentored students from McGill University, Canada. In 2013 Mariam was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Scholarship fund and invited to Barbados to undertake a two-month research placement.
Ghullam Sajjad Puppoo and Abdul Hafeez, are two talented individuals belonging to the Mirasi community of Lahore. The former, Sajjad, is the owner of a tabla shop, along with being a tabla maker, player and singer. The latter, Hafeez, is currently a rickshaw driver but has dabbled in literature, poetry and performance since childhood. He auditioned for several PTV plays and has a short supporting role in the cult classic drama series Ainak wala Jinn.