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Asia Society Presents First Major US Museum Survey Exhibition of Contemporary Art From Pakistan

Exhibition and Major Book Examine Pakistan’s Thriving Arts Scene in the Last Two Decades

September 10, 2009 through January 3, 2010

Often portrayed in the West as a country continuing to struggle with political and social instability, Pakistan has a vibrant yet little-known contemporary art scene that has flourished over the last two decades. The Asia Society exhibition Hanging Fire: Contemporary Art from Pakistan explores this seeming contradiction. The first major U.S. museum survey exhibition devoted to contemporary art from Pakistan, Hanging Fire examines the complex combination of influences informing contemporary artists in the country’s urban centers of Karachi and Lahore.

Born as a nation in 1947 through partition of the Indian subcontinent, during which time millions were killed and displaced, Pakistan has a rich and syncretic cultural history. It is the site of the Indus Valley civilization, one of the world’s oldest, as well as of important Buddhist centers in the second century and the flourishing Mughal Empire of the 16th and 17th centuries. The country has both strong roots in South Asian cultural traditions as well as ties to the Islamic world and the Middle East, with which it is in many ways socially, politically, and economically aligned, stemming in part from the fact that it is the world’s second largest Muslim-majority country.

To spotlight the current energy, vitality, and range of expression in Pakistan’s contemporary art scene, Asia Society Museum is presenting 55 works by 15 artists, comprising installation art, video, photography, painting, and sculpture. A number of the works have never been exhibited, including a large-scale site-specific painting by Imran Qureshi.

Hanging Fire is curated by Salima Hashmi, one of the most influential and well-respected writers and curators in Pakistan. She taught at the National College of Arts in Lahore for 30 years and is currently Dean of the School of Visual Arts at the Beaconhouse National University in that city. She is the daughter of one of Pakistan’s most renowned poets, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

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Contact: Elaine Merguerian, (212) 327-9271, [email protected]

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