Lahore opened its doors for the second edition of the Biennale on the 26th of January. The aim of the event is to bring together artists from different corners of the globe and within Pakistan to understand the mergence of contemporary art with pertinent issues of the century. This particular event is completely in line with the city’s repeated efforts to sustain art and creative expression in the city. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently named Lahore as the Creative City of 2019 due to the efforts made by individuals placing creativity at the core of Urban development to make cities safe, resilient, inclusive and sustainable.

This particular Biennale is interesting because it will expand over five weeks and will use the entire city as a creative space. This will increase cultural tourism as around 3 million visitors are expected. Artists have chosen several heritage sites as their exhibition site due to the lack of attention and importance given to such spaces in the country. Once introduced to a rich heritage, the event promises to push people to invest in the protection of these sites as the Orange Line case made headlines due to the damage key heritage sites incurred.

Another important feat that this Biennale will accomplish is the cultural tourism that it will bring into the country. Pakistan has fought relentlessly to establish peace within the country and the region. The collaborations with artists will encourage people to travel to Pakistan, especially since the United Kingdom (UK) issued a travel advisory encouraging citizens to travel to Pakistan, and the United States of America (USA) is undertaking the same steps. Art and culture have always brought people together. With India playing the role of an aggressor and Pakistan pursuing healthier political and diplomatic strides, art and culture can play a very important role in highlighting the efforts of Pakistan and increasing our soft power in the world.

At the same time, discussions around climate change, cultural and ecological history of Lahore, and contemporary human existence will encourage dialogue across the board. People drawn to such events will be exposed to creative expression along with unique ideas that can help create a literary culture within Lahore’s own community. A city once home to several great artists can revive its legacy of discourse if such events and expression can be sustained.