KARACHI: As aspirant artists look for places to showcase their work, The Second Floor (T2F) relaunched its famous Faraar Gallery to incite all such individuals to exhibit and sell their work.

The opening held at T2F on Sunday evening saw young attendees as they looked through and bought the work of different artists like Sumaiya Jillani, Sara Nisar and Samya Arif among others.

Along with pop up café, art exhibit, there was a session, ‘Karachi And its changing culture’, which saw an interesting discussion amongst three speakers — former education minister Hamida Khuhro, Akhtar Baloch and writer Asif Farrukhi.

Speaking about the geographical and historical importance of the city, Ms Khuhro said that it was indeed important to go back to its roots: “It has been a very distinctive part of the subcontinent.”

“It is interesting to see that Karachi is being talked about in the context to Sindh because it is something we’ve stopped doing and we see Karachi without a past, without any connection to history and we jump straight forward into its present condition with violence,” said Mr Farrukhi.

Referring to historical accounts including one account of forced conversion, Mr Baloch stressed that it was important to remember Karachi owed the form if its city like stature to Hindus and Parsis.

Mr Farrukhi agreed and wished that being a fiction writer myths about the city, whether they’re about Kalachi Jo Kun’s crocodile hunter or Alexander should be explored instead of solely representing the place as a ‘hell city’.

Baloch also discussed other tales from Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s works about formation of a shrine for a woman who served wine and how once a cobra was found in the drinks to which Farrukhi responded that wine servers and shrines exist separately now but the cobra too lives with them.

Although many think that in Karachi, streets have no names, it’s fascinating to see the transformation of names in lieu of who possessed the city. Farrukhi said that in an attempt to convert all to one dominant religion, streets and road were converted too.

“But no matter how hard it is tried, some roads and landmarks retain their old names — Bunder Road is yet to become MA Jinnah Road,” said Baloch.

Baloch also lamented on the lack of knowledge among people living in the city that many a time, many names were given to roads without knowing its history: “When it was told that a road is being named after late Hasrat Mohani, it was quite a surprise albeit a pleasant one that at least something is being named after an individual who was communist at heart.”

Farrukhi also stressed over the expansion of the city at the cost of its heritage that there is no practicality when it comes to building huge flyovers and underpasses with some of them becoming a nightmare.

All three speakers believed that instead of averting gaze from the pluralistic, it is high time to embrace it.

“Instead of being embarrassed and hiding away from the diverse, pluralistic history, we need to accept it and take pride in it,” said Farrukhi.

Giving details about the relaunch of Faraar Gallery, Marvi Mazhar said that the idea was to provide a platform to budding artists: “Many artists limit their work to their thesis projects because they don’t really have a place to exhibit or sell their work.”

She added that the organisation also needed funds to sustain but the primary aim was to pave way for all those creative individuals who want to reach out to the public through their art and that the title ‘K-Eclectic’ was about the diversity of Karachi: “We needn’t talk solely about the nostalgic times, rather we should be talking about the current, gripping city as well.”

A concert by a band, In Time, also followed the earlier discussion in which two members of a band who played at the Beach Luxury Hotel during 60s and 70s, performed various songs from the era and took the attendees back to the past.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2015

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