KARACHI: The National Museum of Pakistan saw much activity on Thursday with the unveiling of a project spearheaded by IAmKarachi to make art more accessible.
Titled Munaqqash (painted or coloured), the project is inspired by the Heidelberg Project in Detroit, an outdoor art installation that has been working to improve and transform lives from 1986. In a poverty and drug-riddled neighbourhood, the Heidelberg Project transformed vacant plots into canvases for local artists and eventually the community came together to clean up. Munaqqash has a similar aim.
A group of artists came together to renovate an abandoned canteen within the museum’s presence and transform the mundane structure into an interactive art installation for the public.
“Different buildings in Karachi have been usurped by different mafias and that space is taken away from the public. IAmKarachi tries to reclaim such spaces and transform them; the aim is to allow the public to enjoy them,” said Ambreen Thompson, executive director of IAmKarachi. She spoke about how the project was a way to address the problems the city faces and is an interpretation of the Heidelberg Project.
‘Different buildings have been usurped by different mafias’
“This installation is dynamic and will keep changing as volunteers and artists contribute a piece of themselves to it. Also, this is a very sustainable project as it has been made from objects easily available in the city,” she added.
The dynamic and colourful canteen is the site of a colourful display incorporating different ethnicities, ideologies and perspectives to life. The canvas is given life with multicoloured kites and deconstructed elements of truck art, stuffed toys and children’s slippers.
Even the violence Karachi has been plagued with for decades is incorporated into the installation — at one end of the canteen a burnt car has been set up and artists and volunteers working on the project have reshaped its ethos to make it more welcoming.
According to the curator, Mehreen Hashmi, “the car has been demolished in riots and we found it in Ramaswami and decided to incorporate it in the project. Once we painted it, the entire display created a more potent impact.”
Munaqqash involves local artists and volunteers to make different spaces in the city aesthetically appealing and welcoming for the public to take ownership of.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2017