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Hajra Haider Karrar

Independent Curator

Country: Pakistan

ITP Year: 2014


Based in Karachi, Pakistan, Hajra is an independent curator invested in creating occasions for alternate discourses in contemporary art practice. Her interest lies in practices navigating socio political and urban infrastructures in the transitory landscape of South Asian cities. She has a focus on exploring the potentiality and materiality of spaces and mediums, employing interdisciplinary modes of knowledge production in her projects. She is also a core member of the Tentative Collective, a gathering of artists, curators, educators interested in engaging with the specificities and commonalities of modernity in rapidly growing cities of the global south, who work site specifically in response to the cities they inhabit, creating poetic and ephemeral moments in conversation with the city’s infrastructures.

Since 2014 Hajra has been involved in many projects. Some of her major solo projects include:
• Pasture Still Green? IV Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, 2014. Moscow Russia. A comment on immigration patterns while reversing the gaze inwards in search of the true perception of reality at the home ground.
• Tracing the Void, IVS Gallery, Karachi, 2015, and Afterimages: Of Erasure at UQBAR, Berlin. 2016. Featuring two artists from Germany and Pakistan in a sequence of two exhibitions in Karachi and Berlin.
• ABOUT TIME at the Napa International Theatre and Music Festival, 2016. aimed at identifying and exploring the many intersections between performing, performance and non-performance art.
• Look at the City from Here, a series of three mid-career retrospectives featuring Risham Syed, Bani Abidi and Farida Batool at Gandhara Art Space. An investigation into the diverse approaches employed by the three female artists navigating and engaging with contested histories and contemporary life in South Asian cities and the significance of these feminist approaches in the contemporary art history of Pakistan.
• She has also initiated a long-term research project conducting a Drawing Survey of Pakistani Contemporary Art 1980 – 2016 which was set off by the exhibition What is Seen and Not Seen With or Without Seeing, focusing on 12 artists, all trained at the same institution during this period.

With the Tentative Collection Hajra has worked on projects including:
• Projections: a series of collaborative experiments on the possibilities and limitations of public art practice in Karachi. 2014.
• The Gandi Engine Commission: a site-specific workshop that navigated through the River Ravi to explore themes of development and destruction, waste and toxicity. Lahore. 2015
• Transcribed Text for a Lost Moment: a screenplay based on the Berliner Lautarchive British and Commonwealth (audio) Recordings of Indian (soldiers) prisoners of War WW1 by Wilhelm Doegen. In Berlin, Kochi, Banglore and Lahore. 2016
• Waste Agency: contextualizes urban rituals in the construction of progress through experimental conversations with discarded objects; it relates the consumption of modernity with its parallel universe of peripheral, abandoned objects. For Public Space Fights and Fictions at Akademie der Kunst. Berlin. 2016
• Shershah and Other Stories: Revolves around ideas of transitioning economies in the aspiring city of Karachi. The project collages together questions regarding the valuable and the wasted by engaging in the intimately local rhythms of work which point towards global shifts in production. For Cosmopolis #1 at Centre Pompidou. Paris 2017

Currently, she is working on two upcoming projects, Collaborative Models: Formats, Ethics and Critique in the Decolonial Turn, aimed at creating a physical and virtual discursive platform engaging interdisciplinary debates. The other, Sound as a Marker of Space-Physical, Virtual and Corporeal exploring the potentiality and materiality of sound as an independent medium and a form of resistance and being.

At the British Museum
During her time on the International Training Programme in 2014, Hajra was based in the Asia Department and her partner placement was spent at Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Museum.

In 2014 participants were asked to prepare a project outlining an exhibition proposal based on the Asahi Shimbun Displays – a temporary exhibition in Room 3 at the British Museum.  Hajra’s exhibition project proposal was entitled, Hokusai: On the Way to Mount Fuji.

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

Legacy Projects
In November 2015 Hajra was selected for the ITP Mumbai Workshop Creating Museums of World Stories. The workshop was held at CSMVS and was attended by many ITP fellows from different years and countries, UK partners and British Museum Colleagues.

Continued Dialogue
Hajra has also worked on a project ARTISTS MISSING as a member of the Tentative Collective, with her UK partner Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery for the New North and South Initiative.

ITP Newsletter Publications
ITP Newsletter Issue 5 (2018), Global perspectives: Art as an act of resistance to time