PRINT May 2016

“Shahzia Sikander: Ecstasy as Sublime, Heart as Vector”

Curated by Hou Hanru and Anne Palopoli

Drawing from the Indo-Persian tradition of miniatures, Shahzia Sikander makes paintings, installations, and animations that testify to the artist’s deep faith in the power of transformation. Her work uproots political and religious iconography to dismantle cultural tropes; take, for example, the animation SpiNN, 2003, which abstracts the hairstyles of gopis (female devotees of Krishna) into a flock of small black silhouettes that swirl around the screen like a murmuration of starlings. This whirlwind reappears in the three-channel video Parallax, 2013, where the flying hairdos alternate with a swarm of severed forearms and oil pumps festooned like Christmas trees. Both works are included in Sikander’s first solo museum exhibition in Italy, alongside a new work exploring the complex conditions experienced by Muslim-American artists working in the proverbial West. A catalogue with texts by Hanru, Ayad Akhtar, Claire Brandon, and Vasif Kortun should shed light on the ways in which Sikander complicates postcolonial narratives by identifying new forms of symbolic exchange.