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Alumni Corner: Murree – Art Station

This project was made possible with the help of an alumni small grant from the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN).  All alumni of various U.S. government-sponsored exchange programs in Pakistan are eligible to apply for the grant of up to $5,000 USD to enable them to give back to their communities.

Rabeya Jalil takes us to Murree, where artists gather to reboot their own work and the town hosting them.  

It has been more than 15 years since the time when I used to visit Murree, with family, almost every weekend. But travelling to the same hill station, this time for an artist residency, was different. I had my memories and baggage of being ‘trained’ in the arts. I was looking (or pretending to look) at people and places as an ‘artographer’. Even while interacting with my fellow artists-in-residence, I kept thinking of and questioning the real meaning of gathering at a place to celebrate, create or store experiences.

Pakistan is beginning to have its share of artist-in-residence programs. But what makes an artist residency in Murree special is the place; a space with a rich past and thriving tourism. However, over time the sheer number of tourists and the associated commerce has marred this hill station – the natural scape and historical British Raj architecture and its archives continue to disintegrate. Much needs to be done to restore, document and highlight Murree’s creative possibilities. What better option could one think of than engaging artists, thinkers and writers to reinvigorate, rediscover and recreate such agnostic spaces?

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