In March 2015, Whitechapel Gallery, supported by the British Council’s Connections Through Culture programme, hosted a symposium Art Schools: From Lahore to Dhaka and Beyond.
The event brought together artists, curators and researchers to discuss shared concerns and ideas on pedagogy and art practice, drawing upon the experience of art schools in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and making links with current practice in the UK.
Artist Naiza Khan spoke of her experience working with and studying at art schools in Pakistan and the UK, tracing spaces of 'Desire and Memory in Karachi's Urban Centre':
Living in Karachi for over twenty years, my work has absorbed and been impacted by the shifting social dynamics and the struggle and protest that I witness in this process of change. Traditional value systems are transformed and previous structures have been challenged by a collusion of politics, economics and belief. This shift critically informs my work both conceptually and formally.
Through a range of media, I have been exploring ways to represent the city and the island of Manora. The visual research on the island has become an observation point that informs my broader project of examining the port city of Karachi, its urban sprawl, and its history.
The idea of looking at objects and spaces under-construction, has been a strategy to open the terrain and conceptualize it through the emotional, real and imagined topography of the city. Thus, personal experience, our anxieties and desires become the primary source for the visual frame.
My engagement with art schools and my work with visiting artists and the Vasl Residency program (1999-2014) has run parallel to my growth as a practitioner. Both these concerns have been an extension of my art practice, in that, the dialogue generated in one space, has always filtered into the other. Moreover, it has been a nurturing space for the practising artist as well as the student, where community has been built through mutual learning.
I have taught at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Karachi from 1991-2009, where I am currently a member of the Board of Governors. During the last 24 years, I have also had the opportunity to examine students and conduct workshops at NCA Lahore, NCA Pindi Campus, Jamshoro, Beaconhouse National University, Karachi School of Art and Karachi University. I am currently teaching at the Visual Studies Department at Karachi University.
My own early art education; firstly at St Paul's Girls' School and later at Wimbledon College of Art followed by the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, has been instrumental in guiding my own approach to the ethics of art practice and pedagogy.