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Zarmeene Shah

Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture

Curator and Associate Professor

Country: Pakistan

ITP Year: 2015


Zarmeene is an academic and independent curator and writer currently based in Karachi, Pakistan, focusing on global contemporary art with specialist knowledge of the Global South, and Pakistan in particular. She has curated numerous group and solo exhibitions in Pakistan and beyond, the largest of which was as Curator-at-Large of the inaugural Karachi Biennale in 2017.

As an academic, Zarmeene is currently Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the Indus Valley School of Art & Architecture, leading the interdisciplinary MPhil degree focusing on practice as research. This role includes all aspects of academic and administrative responsibilities associated with the duties of department chair.

Currently, Zarmeene is working on curating a large-scale exhibition of modern and contemporary art from Pakistan, to be hosted at an international museum in 2024. As a curator, her research-based practice investigates ideas of land and territory, ecology and economy, with a recent focus on the call to planetary and ecologies of care.

As Director of the Graduate Programme at IVS, Zarmeene is currently working to strengthen the curriculum and build productive partnerships with local and international institutions that can lead to capacity building, cultural exchange and new possibilities for creative collaboration.

Zarmeene completed her MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies at Columbia University, New York, in 2010. She has freelanced as a curator and critic, contributing to publications including The Herald Pakistan, ArtAsiaPacific, ArtReview and ArtReview Asia magazines. Her previous positions include Assistant Director & Curator at the Mohatta Palace Museum, Chief Curator of the IVS Gallery in Karachi, and Independent Consultant for South Asian Art for the CCA Derry – Londonderry.

Her curatorial work includes providing the conceptual and theoretical underpinning for exhibitions, planning exhibitions from conception to execution, and acting as liaison between gallery or institution and artist.

Zarmeene’s dream for museums of the future is for museums to be constantly evolving entities that consistently strive to make tolerance, equality, inclusivity, access, fair and truthful representation, and exchange a central part of their ethos and ethical responsibilities.

At the British Museum
During her time on the International Training Programme in 2015, Zarmeene was based in the Asia Department. Her UK Partner placement was spent with Manchester Museum, Manchester Art Gallery and Whitworth Art Gallery..

In 2015 each participant was asked to plan and propose a temporary exhibition based on the physical space and concept of the Asahi Shimbun Displays in Room 3 at the British Museum. Zarmeene’s exhibition project proposal was entitled Culture and Conflict: the Woven Narrative of the Afghan War Rug.

Zarmeene’s place on the International Training Programme was generously supported by the Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust, the British Council and the Rangoonwala Foundation.