Pakistan Now: A German artist’s portrayal of a country full of colours, cultures and diversity

Manolo Ty, through Pakistan Now, invites the world to come face to face with Pakistan’s local communities and witness their previously untold stories

Pakistan Now reveals the unique aesthetic that Manolo Ty brings to socio-documentary photography. Taken between 2013 and 2014, the book’s 276 images were shot in more than 25 locations and, together with stories and observations, chart Ty’s intimate journey into unknown territory. The collection shows a startling new present-moment perspective of a remarkable country, Pakistan. After the world premiere in Berlin and at the Leipzig Book Fair PAKISTAN NOW will be presented in Pakistan, the UK, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and India with corresponding exhibitions and talks.

Manolo Ty is a German artist, traveller and photographer whose works have been shown in more than 60 exhibitions around the world. For the past decade Manolo has documented the relationship between people and their surroundings in almost one hundred countries. The central tenet of Ty's photographic work is the portrayal of people across each stratum of society. In doing so he seeks to raise awareness of traditions and environments which are under threat, as well as participate in a global dialogue for promoting and understanding different cultures.

In an exclusive interview with Manolo Ty, we speak about his perspective and the experiences he gained in Pakistan.

How did your story of ‘Pakistan’ start?

Over the last decade, I have been travelling to almost 100 countries around the world. During this time I encounters many well-travelled men and women who I always asked about the most special place they ever visited. To my surprise the name “Pakistan“came up again and again. At some point, I knew I had to go and see it for myself.

What is Pakistan Now about? What’s been the response of people in Germany so far?

Pakistan Now shows an outsider‘s perspective of an amazing country full of colours, culture and diversity. My focus is on the people. On the one hand, I want to highlight the assets that are often overseen by Pakistani people themselves, and encourage them to realize the treasure and pleasure it is to live in a diversified nation.

I also want to show this widely unknown and often misunderstood country to the world. The book just came out three days ago but already now I got amazing reviews. Everybody loves the photographs, and is quite frankly surprised as it is different than they imagined. Many people even told me that they want to know more and think about travelling to Pakistan now themselves.

What were your perceptions while visiting Pakistan for the first time?

I loved the hospitality, which is the essential ingredient of Pakistan‘s culture and tradition. I realized that almost everything has been different to what I knew. The food, the clothing, the sports, the movies, etc. I could go on and on. Everything was new to me. And I am a big fan of experiencing something new.

People are so fond of comparing Pakistan with its neighbouring country, India. What’s your opinion?

Yes, of course! I know about the big rivalry between the two. I actually believe it would be better to focus on what brings both nations closer together again than highlighting their differences. I am actually planning to show a photo exhibition of Pakistan in India to start an intercultural peaceful dialogue. People have to realize that they are not enemies but they have many things in common. And that their divergences that exist should not be a reason for conflict but bear the possibilities for new opportunities.

On a personal note, what’s been your experience like?

Intense and exhilarating.

How has your experience been with artists or other people you met from Pakistan?

I made many, many friends in a very short amount of time. And we are still in touch on a regular basis. I think that says it all.

As an artist and photographer how do you find the culture and customs of Pakistan?

I have been thrilled to portray Pakistan through my lens. There was so much to explore and discover. From the perspective of an artist, it was refreshing to learn about another way of approaching everyday things. Let‘s just give the beautifully adorned trucks as an example.

Any plans of returning to Pakistan?

I am actually planning to return in April and would love to stay for two months. For one I want to present my book also personally. I will start off in Islamabad and will try to show it around the country. I am still trying to organize that now. And if you are reading this and would have a location to host a book presentation or an exhibition do not hesitate to contact me. Actually I am always open for suggestions. Also for where to go next or anything special to see or do. During my next stay, I will prepare my next big project related to Pakistan. I got invited to show Pakistan in a museum show in Germany next year.

Would you encourage your friends and fellow artists to visit Pakistan?

Absolutely and I always do that already.

As an advocate of art and culture, what’s your message on peaceful coexistence?

My message is that we are all living on this planet together. We should be tolerant to and loving with each other. We should focus all our strength on celebrating our diversity and safe our environment instead of establishing a border between us. Each one of us can make a difference. We just have to really do it and not just talk about it. Be the change that you want to see.

Marian Sharaf Joseph is an independent journalist. Her work for local and global publications focuses on culture and community affairs

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