After the pandemic and the recent catastrophic floods in Pakistan, the Karachi Biennale's latest iteration was a desperately needed beacon of positivity and a chance to celebrate local culture. The not-for-profit Karachi Biennale (KB22) is Pakistan's largest international contemporary art event, with limited funds and ambitious plans to make art accessible to the public.
National and international artists, gallerists, academics and curators were travelling to Karachi for the first time for KB22. As the digital agency for the event, KaroKonnect wanted to create a short film to showcase the complex character of Karachi: the teeming, multicultural heart of Pakistan.
We used the city's movements, energy and people as our North star. For our teammates who call Karachi home, it was a chance to showcase the city's unique ecology of interconnectedness and brotherhood to inspire and motivate audiences. Most importantly, it offered an opportunity to counter the negative narratives that overshadow Karachi: stories of traffic, crime and congestion.
KaroKonnect took it upon themselves to suggest an ambitious film accompanied by an original poem, even though there was no budget for this in the original plan. As a passion project and a tribute to the vibrant city that has given us so much, we embraced the challenge and executed the concept, shoot and edit within a week to have it ready for the inaugural of KB22.
The strategy was clear from the start – promote the art event and the city of Karachi in a refreshing way to create maximum awareness and generate a positive buzz. Since the budget was non-existent, we begged, cajoled and called in favours, inspiring a poet, designers and filmmakers to collaborate with us for the city's good. We even managed to get permission to shoot footage in "sensitive" locations, an almost impossible task in the politically / religiously fractured city of Karachi.
A comprehensive social media campaign was run on all the KB22 pages – Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn with targeted promotions to enhance engagement. A creative caption and an evocative poem by a published writer who is also our creative director helped set it apart. The stunning drone footage and visuals celebrating the diversity and secular nature of the coastal city were essential pillars of the strategy.
We partnered with urban explorers to highlight areas of the city that were often overlooked in favour of the more glitzy locales to illustrate the history and pluralism of the city. We are deeply grateful to clients like the CEO of the Karachi Biennale, Niilofur Farrukh, who trusted and shared our vision. There were no storyboards, no visuals, just a poem, and she read it and gave the go-ahead. There was no fine-tuning, adjustments, or comments for the sake of comments, just a recognition of our passion. She believed in our abilities to showcase the brilliance of our city and the Karachi Biennale.
At the inauguration of KB22, the film was launched across all platforms and gained widespread acclaim amongst stakeholders, artists and attendees, starting the Biennale with the excitement it deserved. With no budget and little time, we created a film that is a fitting tribute to the energy and soul of Karachi.
The results were exceptional. Our goal to tie the Biennale to the city resonated with audiences: the poem was praised for capturing "the essence of living in Karachi", and the visuals/audio were celebrated for helping viewers experience the city in its unorthodox glory.
The actual stats:
For the Karachi Biennale Instagram account:
Visitors at the Biennale described the video as "an emotional journey" and shared how it made them feel proud to be from Karachi. The highest praise of all was recognition from the participating artists themselves.
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