Showcasing artists from 16 countries, Second Karachi Biennale will be a citywide public art exhibition under the thematic Flight Interrupted: Eco-Leaks from the invasion desk. As Pakistan’s largest international contemporary art event it recognises environmental emergency as the defining issue of our times. The theme refers to the disappearance of low flying birds of Karachi because they lost their nesting place and freedom to fly unhindered

KB19 is the second iteration of the Karachi Biennale, an unprecedented endeavor connecting art, the city and the people, held in October 2017. Conceived by the Karachi Biennale Trust as a dynamic platform to promote creativity, innovation and criticality in the visual arts, it was formed by a group of visual art professionals and educators.

To ensure the urgency surrounding ecology at this ‘green biennale’ spreads far and wide, the curator of KB19 Muhammad Zeeshan, has selected a diverse mix of participants: “I have also invited architects and gardeners and engineers and sound technicians, theatre performers, and story tellers to participate. KB19 will not just be received by artists but by everyone, thus my vision has been to include people from varying disciplines and from the public, so that their different voices and messages will help our universal message spread faster and more effectively.” 

Visitors to the Biennale will navigate 7 venues across the metropolis, where artists have created almost a hundred surprising and urgent projects: their ideas to embrace nature’s ‘welcoming arms’ (Kahlil Gibran). Spaces range from colonial to contemporary, public parks to concrete dwellings. Over a dozen artists are showcasing their works at the Karachi Zoo, a space with some of the city’s oldest trees that serves as the lungs of the densely populated area.

The Karachi Biennale exhibition venues are free and open to all. It will have an extensive public programming for everyone. For students, daily school tours and weekly college visits have been introduced to enhance their understanding of art and ecology. Keynote Talks by global and local scholars, discussions, guided tours for visitors promise an unforgettable cultural experience.

With a line-up of globally acclaimed artists, the public audiences will get an opportunity to see museum standard art in Karachi against the backdrop of its heritage sites. KB19 will not only unpack the city’s relationship with nature, but also celebrate it and begin a global collaboration for healing and rejuvenation.

KB19 is supported by innumerable public and private partnerships. The Mayor and the City Government has generously made available the Karachi Zoo, Frere Hall and Bagh Ibne Qasim as venues for exhibitions. Alliance Francaise de Karachi, British Council, Goethe Institut, the Consulate of Italy and ProHelvetia Swiss Arts Council have been instrumental in the participation of artists from their countries. All other venue partners are hosting KB19 in their spaces.

Generous individuals, foundations and companies are behind the five KB19 prizes that recognize outstanding works and achievement. These include the previously established KB19 Mahvesh and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation Juried Art Prize, and the Shahneela and Farhan Faruqui KB19 Popular Choice Art Prize, as well as 3 new prizes— the KB19 Peek Freans Emerging Artist Prize, KB19 Langdon-Malik Foundation Performance Art Prize, KB19 H M Habib Lifetime Achievement Award. The Performance Art Prize is one of a few in the world to honour artistic achievement in this genre and to inspire future performing artists to push their public engagement and artistic expression further.