LAHORE: Speakers at the opening session of Academic Forum, ArtSpeak of Lahore Biennale Festival 2018 highlighted the skills, efforts and talent of renowned artists like Zahoor Akhlaq, Lala Rukh, Nasreen Mohamedi on Monday at Alhamra Arts Centre.The session titled ‘Symposium, Invitation to Action’, was part of the LBF which is being held at seven different heritage sites of Lahore. The session featured Emilia Terraciano, Amar Kanwar, Nurjahan Akhlaq, Maryam Rahman, Iftikhar Dadi and Mariah Lookman. Speaking on occasion, Mariah Lookman said that a lot of translation was held in relation to the work of these artists. I saw new aspects in the art work of Zahoor ul Akhlaq and Nasreen Mohamedi, she said, adding that Zahoor’s art work looks into various different artwork types. She said that a single session in not enough to discuss the artistic services of these legends.Mariah said that there was still a lot of space when one, as an artist, has a desire to work. “One cannot help but praise the artwork of these brilliant artists.” Iftikhar Dadi said that these art works give the message of tolerance as there are 49 different abstracts regarding darkness. Abstracts today are more like a civic sensibility available at your place, he said.At the session, different artworks of Zahoor ul Akhlaq, Nasreen Mohamedi and Lala Rukh were also displayed and a discussion over them took place in which young artists Nurjaha Akhlaq and Maryam Rahman expressed their views. While addressing another session titled ‘Hacking the Grid: Urban Interventions by Artists from Southeast Asia’, Pamela Corey explained the problems being faced by the art and artists in pre-war, war and post war inside Vietnam. She explained that modern art is formed in urban interventions, and added that we have discovered most modernist thing in culture as there were modernity in Vietnam’s artwork in 1920s, she observed.Corey went on to say that Vietnam’s artwork in 1968 shows the miseries of diaspora as at that time a war between US and Vietnam was being held. During this era, a lot of Vietnamese migrated and became refugees inside it and outside and several flee to different countries, she said. She added that even the current artwork of Vietnam also highlighted the miseries, problems and issues of that era. She further said that even artists made toys of fiberless polymers, wood an synthetic polymers. Talking about refugees, she said that Germany hosted most number of Vietnam refugees as in 1980s German government also signed agreements with Vietnam for allowing work and job to its refugees, she said, adding that till 1989 West Germany continued hosting refugees from Southern Vietnam. However, Fall of Berlin wall caused several issues for the Vietnamese as many of them lost contracts and jobs.Talking about exhibitions in Vietnam and Cambodia, she said that in Vietnam there were more restrictions and censorships during exhibition and artists fear police, but in Cambodia there are no such restrictions. Published in Daily Times, March 20th 2018.