In 2021, I brought together Summerhall, Edinburgh, and Koel Gallery, Karachi, to host an international digital artist residency. We won a 25k 'Connect and Collaborate' grant from British Council and Creative Scotland. I designed and curated the residency and invited Farrukh Addnan and Michele Marcoux, artists I have previously worked with, to participate and respond to the theme of 'Displacement', a concept that has informed my earlier research as a filmmaker.
Every person has experienced some form of being displaced or exiled. Displacement leaves us with a palimpsest of fragmented memories and archival traces.
Lahore-based artist, Farrukh Addnan, grew up in Tulamba, a Punjabi village situated on a neglected archaeological site in Pakistan. Edinburgh-based artist, Michele Marcoux, grew up in the multi-cultural industrial city of Cleveland, USA.
Despite the contrasting geographical and cultural landscapes of their origins, they share a mutual search for connections, through dreams, memories and symbolic representations, to the locus of their childhoods.
Over nine months the artists received bespoke mentoring and skills support. They collaborated over Zoom and Padlet, sharing their research and inspirations on a digital platform while interrogating ideas and methodologies to address the theme of displacement.
The residency culminated in an exhibition at Koel Gallery in January 2022. Michele travelled to Pakistan to meet Farrukh in person for a cultural exchange,
The physical installation of work that is so distinctively different in style and approach was an aesthetic and conceptual challenge. Michele's colourful, layered and often figurative paintings and digital projections form an absolute contrast to Farrukh's fine abstracted monochrome mark-making in paintings, books and a scroll.
Farrukh meticulously maps the dissonance of his present urban experience in Lahore while reaching back to a stillness activated by intangible memories of playing in the rubble of ancient ruins. Michele’s work vibrantly creates confluences where historical events and personal memories joist with each other to create a space that explores the contours of nostalgia.
My curatorial instinct was to allow each work to hold its own presence while creating an intellectual and aesthetic dialogue between the artworks in their diverse forms and introducing a sense of a narrative journey across the multi-storied sunlit gallery spaces at Koel Gallery.
Bilgrami, S. (2022). Curation: 'Ecologies of Displacement' Art Exhibition (Koel Gallery, Pakistan). [Curation of art works]. Exhibited at Koel Gallery, Karachi, Pakistan. 18 January 2022 - 2 February 2022. (Unpublished)