lunes, 17 de septiembre de 2018


This photo essay tells the story of an artist’s view of her experience at a new and important biennale.
Yasmeen SiddiquiAlpesh Kantilal Patel

Shahzia Sikander, with Du Yun, Ali Sethi, Catholic Girls Choir, and Young Children of Traditional Musicians from the Walled City of Lahore,  Darbaar-e-Aam, Lahore Fort. “Disruption As Rapture” (2018), (all photos by Umar Riaz, courtesy Sikander Studio for Hyperallergic)

LAHORE, Pakistan — Earlier this year, New York City-based Shahzia Sikander presented her work for the first time in the city where she grew up. Sikander is well known for how she transfigured the language of miniature painting, a form she learnt as a young undergraduate art student at the National College of Arts in Lahore. She has since mobilized the language of animated film, and one of these — “Disruption As Rapture” (2018) — was recently installed at two outdoor locations: the Lahore Fort and Alhamra Gardens. The work attests to Sikander’s strong interest, both in playing with scale as well as in collaboration across disciplines, from music to literature, with an eye open to theater.  The installations were part of another first — the inaugural Lahore Biennale that took place this year from March 18–31.

Below are images of the installations along with descriptions of the work — often in Sikander’s own words. What will be clear is that the work (among other things) moves beyond the fixity of often timeless national categories towards an exploration of identity as something richer, more complex.
Indeed, countless essays, interviews, and catalogues have largely been unable to disentangle Sikander’s biography from her work. As such, this essay is not meant to be a story about an artist returning “home.” Sikander has been in the United States since the 1990s, where she harnessed educational and exhibition opportunities to test the limits of the skills she had developed before her migration. Our hope is to begin the task of demonstrating, on this occasion, through images composed as a photo essay, the particular, multi-faceted and unstable formulations Sikander puts forward, to trigger a rethinking of all the questions that confuse our struggle to understand the multivalent social and cultural and historical forces that sculpt her ways of seeing.
To put it liberally, perhaps language has not caught up to her work. The authors of this text and Sikander have been in an ongoing conversation about the unfortunate framing of artists (and how to move forward) and we anticipate further essays and curatorial projects tackling this issue head-on. For now, though, we hope the images below spark further thought among readers. They are presented here with commentary by both the authors and the artist, the latter differentiated by blockquotes…………………

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