City Notebook – Outside the Box at Pioneer Book House

One of the most important exhibitions of the year. For you don’t know when Akhtar Soomro will exhibit his work next. Akhtar Soomro is one of the finest photographers in the city but has hardly shown his work in form of an exhibition.

Born in Lyari and trained as an Engineer, Akhtar soon realized that his interest lied in Photography. He worked for a photo studio and an advertising agency before going on to work for major stock agencies around the work. Humble and soft spoken, Mr. Soomro has produced fantastic work since which has featured on Reuters, The New York Times, Financial Post and several other international and local newspapers and magazines. He was part of The New York Times’ team that won a Pulitzer for international reporting from Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is currently associated with Reuters in permanent capacity.

The opening is as humble as Mr. Soomro himself. I see television crew parking their vehicle outside the book house. We enter inside the bookstore at the same time where we find Maniza Naqvi, novelist and Pioneer Book House’s savior greeting visitors. She has been instrumental in attracting people to the store by stocking more books, arranging reading sessions and other events. I sense that she is the reason Akhtar has agreed to display his work in the first place.

We take the staircase to the first floor where the exhibition has been setup. Some 20 black and white prints have been setup on the bookshelves across three rooms on first floor. Akhtar’s work is not picturesque. His work is not meant to be liked on instagram. His work is an honest portrayal of life around him. Karachi is omnipresent in his photography. Ordinary and unimportant feature prominently. Some of these images may strike you as familiar, remind you of an experience that you had. It is perhaps the best documentation of street life in Karachi. Unassuming and honest. Technically sound and powerful. It is a show not to be missed. It is one of the most important exhibitions of the year.

 

 

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