Pakistan Talent: More than meets the headlines


Right now, ‘Pakistan’ is flooding my news feeds and making headlines across the internet, though in doing so it is sadly reinforcing the tendency these days to associate the country with unrest and violence. Today it is a bombing at a spy agency that has killed at least 7, 8 or 11 people depending on the news sources.

But lately, a few Pakistan-related stories have caught my eye for different reasons. Like last week’s Pakistani Fashion Week (although it’s hard to say whether the event would have drawn so much international media attention if not for the high-profile conflict).

Another Pakistan-related story that caught my attention was a NY art exhibition called ‘Hanging Fire,’ which features the work of 15 contemporary artists from Pakistan and is reportedly the first of its kind in the United States. The show runs through January 3, 2010 at New York’s Asia Society Museum.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

What’s interesting about the show, which includes installation art, video, photography, painting and sculpture, is that it acknowledges the inextricable ties between the ongoing conflicts in Pakistan and some of the works. Says Asia Society Museum Director Melissa Chiu: ‘The exhibition includes artists for whom the highly charged socio-political context in which they live and work is critical to understanding their art.’

The museum adds that Pakistan’s contemporary art scene is a vibrant one, ‘that has flourished over the last two decades.’

The New York Times recently gave ‘Hanging Fire’ a pretty positive review, and built a strong case for seeing the show by asserting: ‘If exhibitions encouraged us to approach art in something like this order, rather than the other way around, we might have an art experience deeper and more lasting than that given by even the most polished institutional package tour.’

Sign up for our weekly newsletter
The Diplomat Brief