Kabutar Exhibition: An exchange of cultures

Kabutar Exhibition: An exchange of cultures
'Glimpse', performance by Cansu Eragin from Turkey.

The one-of-its-kind travelling project is promoting artists from East and West

By Mehreen Hashmi

Published: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 5:45 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Aug 2019, 7:48 PM

Kabutar, a cultural exchange project, promotes cross-border mobility for artists from East and West.
Considering the current situation of chaos, political turmoil and hierarchy of power, Kabutar brings the concept of artists as messengers of peace and harmony while traveling through one country to another and exhibiting avant-garde artworks as symbolic interpretation to the concept.
Throughout ages, kabutars (pigeons) have been trained as a mode of communication as old as the Persians who started training the birds.
Besides Persians, the Romans used pigeon posts to aid their military over 2,000 years ago. An art collector once told me after appreciating my work - "You are part of our home, we all know you through your piece, you are there"; when artists send their work to other territories mainly beyond boundaries, they send a piece of themselves. One can witness the differences of identities in the visual culture of artworks itself. Cultural exchange programmes are mostly promotion of diversity and communication between different nations.
On April 27, 2019, the first display of Kabutar showcased artworks of artists from Italy, Netherlands, Pakistan and Turkey took place at Alliance Francaise de Karachi, along with welcoming Jorieke Rottier (Netherlands), Cristiana De Marchi (Italy) and Cansu Eragin (Turkey). Cansu Eragin performed 'Glimpse' on the opening day.
Participating artists in the exhibition were Angela Vinci, Denise Frechet, Christiana de Marchi, Dani Ploeger, Hans Overvliet, Joerike Rottier, Eda Emirdag, Cansu Eragin, Sezen Tonguz, Aqeel Solangi, Farrukh Shahab and Hina Tabassum.
The artworks exhibited ay Kabutar is an execution of similar context in multicultural approaches; so, we are riding in a more or less similar boat but in different oceans, hence every ocean has its serenity and storms. In both Eastern and Western culture, the dove has been a symbol of hope and/or peace throughout the centuries. Even today, the dove is still a very strong and popular peace-symbol in different cultures.
Artists from all five countries were invited to showcase their work for this traveling exhibition. Every artwork specifically executed for this exhibition symbolises the concept of messenger of peace and love on global level.
During their stay in Karachi, all three artists interacted and explored the city via tours, visiting old monuments, enjoying local food, and most of all celebrating the connection among us regardless of race, nationality and identities. We explored old city of Karachi with 'Super Savari', a city tour company while riding in rickshaws.
We enjoyed local food at several known restaurants. We visited the beach in a boat as Karachi has the longest coast line. We danced together at Yacht Club to celebrate our connection without knowing each other as an individual from miles away. We also appeared on an exclusive interview of SamaFm.
Kabutar is more than a generic art exhibition; It's a strong portrayal of artists uniting together to represent their country and bring it to one platform on a larger level. It's a message of communication, unity, diversity and reconciliation between five different countries, and two different continents.
It has been the very first time that artists from different countries has showcased under one roof as well as travelled together. In the eastern region, there are not many opportunities for artists to exhibit and travel to engage in a professional development through exhibitions.
Projects such as Kabutar serves a specific and well-defined objective, which is to develop an international collaboration, to present work in another country and to develop projects with local communities in the destination country while creating a softer image of Pakistan around the globe.
Kabutar will be displayed and travel through Italy, France, Netherlands and Turkey in 2019 after our first showcase in Karachi, Pakistan. There is a major international collaboration with art organizations and galleries in these respective countries. Through Kabutar, Pakistani art scene as well as tourism has been promoted through this cultural exchange. We are hoping and aiming for further commotion while traveling and exhibiting in the west later this year.
Exhibitions as well as panel discussions are planned to be held at galleries in all five countries later this year. The most unique element of this project is that artists are not obliged to pay any fee or expenses to be able to travel for this duration. All the traveling cost including visa fee, air fare, accommodation and other expenses will be covered through the sponsors.
MH Initiatives is an art company with a unique purpose of international collaboration, promotion of Pakistani artists worldwide and initiating cultural projects in Pakistan with other countries. Mehreen Hashmi, curator of Pakistan's first Karachi Art Summit in 2017 is the founder and curator of this organisation.
She has worked for several public art and cultural projects in past years. She is the brain and curator behind Kabutar, an art critic and a visual artist. Orbit Advertising, event partner with Kabutar, is a dynamic, full-service event management company and advertising agency, working in the industry for more than 12 years.

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