Yesterday on a very pleasant evening of August the 13th, a Public Event was organized by "I AM KARACHI", an organization established by concerned citizens and civil society organizations of Karachi.
I AM KARACHI aims to collectively rebuild the diverse social and cultural fabric of the city by providing a platform for likeminded organizations and individuals committed to promoting socio-cultural activities and campaigns as vehicles for peace building through Arts, Culture, Sports and Dialogue.
The event was the LAUNCH OF PUBLIC ART PROJECT.
Whereby an abandoned canteen at National Museum has been converted into a public art installation.Volunteers from schools, colleges and art institutes and artist community will contribute to this project. Selected artists including Sabir Ali, Safeer Sandeelo, Hina Tabassum , Sehrish Willayat, Nashra Saleem and Farrukh Shahab has initiated the execution already.
This project is inspired by the Heidelberg project initiated in 1986 by artist Tyree Guyton on the city’s east side, just north of Detroit’s historically African American Black Bottom area. The project is named after Heidelberg Street where the installation started. The inspiration taken is intended to connect and promote this project globally.
I happened to reach the venue early after dropping my younger kid for his soccer practice session, organized under the banner of Karachi United, more about this initiative some other time.
At the entrance there was a guard/individual, whom I asked about the event which he did confirm in the positive. The canteen area, was located on the right side near the entrance, I could see a couple of individuals, one of which I assumed was the Artist Mehreen Hashmi, ensuring that things are organized well.
I made a turn and went towards the parking area located within the premises of the National Museum. There was some arrangements also being made for an event, as some other Tentwalas were busy putting up tent and cleaning utensils.
I thought that there is still time for the Launch of the Public Art Project, why not see "The National Museum Of Pakistan", as although nowadays working a few yards away within the Sindh Secretariat, I hardly get time to explore or go to such places anymore.
Moving towards the staircase of the The National Museum Of Pakistan, I saw a pack of wild pye-dogs rushing towards me, I just froze. One of the waiters kind enough hussshhhed the dogs away. I, finally reached the staircase of "The National Museum Of Pakistan".
Upon entering a saw a man, whom looked like the caretaker of the museum, I asked him how come there are so many pye-dogs within the vicinity of "The National Museum Of Pakistan". An article on this have also appeared in Pakistan Times Newspaper article in Feb 2016, Stray Dogs occupy National Museum.
He said what can be done there are spaces within the bars that surrounds the boundary of the museum and they easily come in from there, also he said that he can only look out for the dogs that tries to come in within the actual premises gate seen above, and while we were having this conversation he had to hussshhhed the dog away which kept on coming in.
I asked another person whom was sitting at the far corner enjoying the cool breeze coming in from the grill that how people come and visit the museum. He said, this is how things are, people hardly come and those come are afraid. I inquired whom jurisdiction does "The National Museum Of Pakistan" comes under, he said previously it used to be under Federal Government now it comes under the Sindh Government.
Well, I said someone should complain about this?, he said there is going to be a function in which the Secretary Culture would be coming, and why not you complain to him. I said in the affirmative, that I will.
I went out to see how the preparation for the main event was going on for which I had come to see, I saw a couple of Tentwalas trying to put up the tent, most probably to camouflage some of the material not to be seen by the elite guests. The time was well above 5:00 which was the official time for the event to start but as there was NO sight of anymore individuals besides the artist herself and a few of her colleagues, and also a light drizzle started so I decided to leave the venue but write about this whole episode.
I managed to get back to my car with all the pye-dogs sitting and roaming again next to the staircase and place of the venue, where the Secretary Culture had to come.
I felt bad about the whole experience as people in the world visits Galleries and Museums which tells alot about the Culture, Heritage of the people, but in Pakistan we live where this is considered not a topic of importance.
Only some philanthropists are trying to do there part in order to promote a little bit of our Cultural Heritage by organizing and supporting events like the LAUNCH OF PUBLIC ART PROJECT.