LAHORE: The eagerly-awaited Lahore Biennale, now in its third edition, kicked off in the prvincial capital on Sunday with three major events highlighting its inception day on two separate locations.The first took place at the Lawrence Garden where five artists exhibited their works, including Ali Kazim, David Alesworth, Mehreen Murtaza, Noor Ali Chagani and Wardha Shabbir. Together their works presented an engagement with nature. Lahore-based artist Wardha Shabbir’s large scale installation juxtaposed a two-dimensional landscape form against a British style layout of the Lawrence Garden. Shabbir extended into the garden an aesthetic and a gesture that drew from the Indo-Persian engagement with nature as depicted in historic miniature paintings.UK-based artist David Alesworth’s work interwove local voices with sound recordings acquired from the archives of the Kew Gardens. Artist Ali Kazim’s installation functioned as a quasi-archaelogical site wherein the fragile clay heart sculptures suggested effect and belonging and pointed to restrictions placed upon public expressions of love. Mehreen Murtaza created an allegorical soundscape by tapping into the the secret chemical and biological language shared between trees. Her work compelled one to reconsider one’s own relation to nature and to imagine a living and a pulsing universe beyond the domain of a human. A big metal was attached with trees which picked up electromagnetic waves from the trees. “This is my own independent art practice. I spent a lot of time in parks and forests observing trees for this exhibit. I’m very happy to be able to do this setup and LB01 has provided a platform for me to directly interact with the audience,” Murtaza said, while talking exclusively to Daily Times.Lahore-based artist Noor Ali Chagani’s installation employed re-used terracotta bricks that already bore traces or marks from the kiln. “For me, bricks are a symbol of home, family, power and strength. In our society, a man’s responsibility from a very young age is to provide for his family and to build a shelter or a home. This idea is so deeply entrenched in our psyche that some men spend their entire live pursuing this dream. These responsibilities and firm ideas around masculine identities never allow men to show their softer or more emotional sides. These thoughts have inspired me to make a work that provides another interpretation for a brick wall, one in which the wall structure appears more organic and not as rigid as how we understand wall to be,” Noor said, also while talking exclusively to Daily Times. Two Portuguese musicians performed at Jinnah Library; Jakub Junek on violin and Karel Vrtiska on piano. Jakub Junek has participated in a number of international music masterclasses in the Czech Republic, Austria, Great Britain, the US and Israel – including winning Václav Hude?ek’s summer courses in Luha?ovice, taking part in “Pro Corda” International Chamber music courses in Great Britain, summer music course ISA in Austria, international interpretation masterclasses “Keshet Eilon” in Israel and winning a scholarship for the Meadowmount School of Music in the United States three times in a row.Karel Vrtiska has accepted invitations to record for Czech Radio, Czech Television and for the BBC. He also had his own piano recital at the international music festival Prague Spring and performed in the subscription cycles of the Czech Philharmonic, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra Olomouc, Bohuslav Martin? Philharmonic and Bach for All festival. Their performances were met with great applause and appreciation by masses.The third event highlighting Biennale’s inception day was a sacred music recital, celebrating the opening of the Lahore Biennale by renowned classical vocalist Naseeruddin Saami and his qawwal sons which was designed and moderated by Ali Sethi. The event was the opening programme for the Lahore Biennale and was titled Zamzama – The Music Of Islam.It was a two-hour concert-cum-recital featuring Ali Sethi and traditional qawwals from Karachi. They began with Arabic qaseedas sung in the lifetime of the holy Prophet (PBUH), proceeded to Baghdadi chants from the 8th century, onwards to the first qawwali ever written, and then some other genres. It culminated in the rousing “Mast qalandar”.The event highlighted Pakistan’s rich cosmopolitan heritage of Islamic idiom and cultural expression.There were a total of 500 people including leading artists and curators from Pakistan and around the world.Published in Daily Times, March 19th 2018.