LBF Virtual Museum
The Lahore Biennale Foundation Virtual Museum (LBF VM) is a digital platform for artists, academics and creative practitioners to come together on the crossroads of ideas and research based on our shared cultural language and artistic legacy. Knowledge creation and dissemination is the natural outcome of this collaborative experiment with the project inviting a diverse group of curators, collaborators and artists across the board to respond to 75 years of Pakistan’s rich, multifaceted history post-independence. The project also questions the role of the “traditional forms of museum making” and builds on the post pandemic reality of virtual connectivity across and in spite of physical borders, making cyberspace an ideal platform for local & global conversations — transcending boundaries by making accessibility of knowledge production an infinite reality.
British Council Pakistan
The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. It helps young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for to realise their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. And supports them to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications. The British Council’s work in arts and culture stimulates creative expression and exchange and nurtures creative enterprise. The Britist Council have been working in Pakistan since 1948, connecting with thousands of students, educators, policymakers, academics, creatives and entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Director UK-PK Seasons | British Council
The Pakistan/UK: New Perspectives showcases the cultural wealth and contemporary creativity of both countries; facilitates professional collaboration for culture, creative and education sectors; and focuses on a shared future through lasting partnerships. It focuses on challenging perceptions, particularly amongst the younger generation in both countries. It is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural programmes the British Council has ever launched in Pakistan coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the country. The Pakistan/UK Season was launched in March 2022, simultaneously in Islamabad in collaboration with the British High Commission and in London with the Pakistan High Commission among dignitaries as well as partners and friends from the arts, culture, and heritage sectors. Since then, the programme has delivered large scale, impact-driven works to strengthen cultural connections between the two countries and connect a diverse set of individuals and organisations across Pakistan and the UK to address shared global challenges. To date, the Season has worked with fifty-three organisations and twenty-nine thousand individuals face-to-face in the UK and Pakistan to deliver an expansive cultural programme spanning theatre, film, visual arts, sustainable design and architecture, digital platforms, music, literature, museums, broadcast and dialogue, capacity and skills building, research, as well as exciting cross-arts commissions. Going forward, the Season endeavours to continue to facilitate and grow these collaborations. Our work has already started to impact lives – from ten women from remote areas of Pakistan who have gone on to produce their first original documentary films, to Pakistani women DJing for the largest online music streaming channel across the world, developing university links to design new curriculum in the heritage sector for institutional capacity building and to the thousands of young leaders who are gearing up to lead on solutions tackling environmental challenges across one hundred and twenty-two universities in Pakistan. Our activity continues for the next few months.
Lahore Biennale Foundation
To this end, LBF endeavors to support art projects across Pakistan, especially those critical practices which are based on research and experimentation. LBF is supported by government bodies, and has developed enduring relations with international partners. These partnerships at home and aboard attempt to bridge institutional gaps between Lahore and the rest of the world. Its flagship event, the Lahore Biennale, is held every two years. The inaugural Lahore Biennale was presented in 2018. The second Lahore Biennale in 2020 was curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, who brought her experience in curating and promoting the contemporary art of this region, and her knowledge of the global contemporary art world and its institutions to Lahore. Other major initiatives of the Lahore Biennale Foundation include the Research Unit and Afforestation Lahore. An integral part of the Lahore Biennale Foundation (LBF), the Research Unit initiated in 2018, aims to foster archival, experimental, and theoretical investigations that offer new insights into the art and visual culture of Pakistan. The Research Unit provides a platform for investigative learning, focusing on modern and contemporary art, visual culture and its social dimensions in Pakistan and its diasporas. It is committed to supporting creative art practices, promoting a diverse cultural ecology, and encouraging interdisciplinary approaches and outcomes.
Climate change presents a tangible threat and given its severity it is imperative to have all stakeholders united on one single platform. Afforestation Lahore encourages a collaborative and multidisciplinary approach amongst the fields of art and philanthropy in Pakistan. It focuses on supporting research and development – by building relationships with private, government, institutional and corporate partners, both at domestic and international levels.
About the Director
From the furnishing of ancient funerary chambers with keepsakes of the deceased to methodically formulating collections of rare objects, curiosities and commodities in the 17th Century to the interactive exhibits of today, the role of the traditional museum has emerged from a multipurpose space to evolve into a borderless world of active participation and cultural heritage conservation. Over time, and with the advent of the internet era, museums and their response to curation and conservation has progressed. The modern museum has reinvented itself to include intangible practices, multi-visual representations and the recreation of lost traditions; a powerful, dynamic space, that overcomes geographical boundaries to shape identities and bring communities together to emerge as a catalyst for regeneration through the creation of new venues and civic spaces. In light of changing practices in museum making and as a response to broader socio-cultural changes in public interaction, the Lahore Biennale Foundation Virtual Museum is a novel form of knowledge production and exhibition space (virtual third space) that links heritage and local communities by making accessibility an open-ended reality. Functioning as an enduring online repository of data, the LBF Virtual Museum is a dedicated cyberspace featuring local academics and creatives, facilitating global conversations and focused on investigating new modalities of interpretation, exhibition discourse, our shared cultural language, artistic legacy and rich, multifaceted history post-independence.
The relationship between tangible and intangible culture is situated in place. Structures such as Bradlaugh Hall, Pak Tea House and Lahore Fort stand as epicenters of Pakistan’s cultural heritage by way of the creatives, thinkers and movements that were birthed there. These sites also hold the promise of a new form of cultural spaces; one that is in-conversation with the social and cultural history that it represents. In this spirit, the LBF Virtual Museum serves as a site of ‘knowledge in the making’ (Bjerregaard, 2020). Its positioning in a post-pandemic digital world presents an exciting possibility to subvert tradition in the documentation of history. Within Pakistan’s context, the Virtual Museum is a unique opportunity to contribute to the country’s digital heritage and bring it within a cross-border and confluent space. Curated by individual artists and the public at large, the museum is an inclusive act of digital placemaking that centers local stories, memories and experiences.In this manner, with the aid of public participants, curating in the public domain is consequential in shaping how history is produced by a museum. By harnessing the power of the internet we are able to involve not just creatives in Pakistan in the production of the museum’s components, but also creatives across South Asia. As a result, the Virtual Museum is an innovative, transdisciplinary and wholly South Asian domain. The virtual museum amplifies local voices in a way its physical counterparts cannot, as it lets local actors tell their own stories by creating digital representations to serve as emissaries of their cultural values. By following a non-established curatorial methodology that does not subscribe to the western form this virtual museum provides increased agency to its participants in the presentation of their contextual knowledge and worldview. Local institutions and actors have been able to preserve, curate, display, and create their own material and immaterial heritage through the virtual museum thereby fashioning it as a site where productive imaginaries of experimental museology are coming to life.
Team & Acknowledgments
Ali Usman Qasmi & Mehmood Ul Hassan
Advisors To The Project
Naazish Ata Ullah
Raza Ali Dada
LBF Office (Operations)
Social Media & PR
Mohammad Adeel Babar
Sponsors, Collaborators & Partners
British Council Pakistan
National College Of Arts NCA
Nayyar Ali Dada & Associates
Ali Embroidery Mills
Ferozsons PVT LTD
Nayyar Ali Dada
Captain. Usman Younis
Saad Khalid and Hassan Khalid