Ever heard of Karachi? It lies 11,700 kilometers from Vancouver, on the coast of the Arabian Sea in Pakistan. For those curious to explore the city but unable to afford the airfare or keep hearing that it’s too unsafe to travel there, here is your lucky day! Hot off the press, Right to the City: Travel Guide to Karachiwill take you on an imaginative journey right to the city.
The Right to the City: Travel Guide to Karachi explores the experience of living in the city of Karachi, Pakistan and the production, representation and contestation of its spaces. Six Pakistani artists – Bani Abidi, Manizhe Ali, Sara Khan, Seher Naveed, Shayan Rajani and Roohi Ahmed – through their works and texts presented in this book, claim the right to represent their city at a time when the media renders its realities opaque and remote. While media reportage on the endless violence and conflict continue to produce representations of the city as a dangerous battleground, this publishing project seeks to repopulate Karachi as a lived and embodied place.
The Right to the City: Travel Guide to Karachi transforms readers into imaginary tourists and enables them to explore the contested geographies of a city often categorised as “failed and feral” by Western standards. The book appropriates the popular medium of a travel guide to give visibility and access to surprisingly alternative versions of Karachi that are otherwise continually silenced or overlooked. Bringing forth conflicting images that resist fixed representations and illusory stereotypes, the project critically questions the dominant narratives that have come to represent our perception of Karachi, and allows the city to emerge as lived spaces of sociality and struggle.
Curated by Shahana Rajani, an MA candidate in the Critical and Curatorial Studies program at the University of British Columbia.
This project was made possible through support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at The University of British Columbia.
Image: Mausoleum of Jinnah, Photo by Manizhe Ali