LAHORE: Art Speak, a discursive session on visual arts, was held at Alhamra Art Centre on Friday featuring works of Pakistani-American contemporary artist Shazia Sikander, who also talked about her works on the occasion.
The event was part of Lahore Biennale under the Lahore Biennale Foundation and other partners. Ms Sikander has held solo exhibitions throughout the US, the UK, Germany, Ireland, Australia and Hong Kong. She talked about her works produced in various countries and places.
Ms Sikander said the ability of an artist to engage was attached with sharing of an idea. She displayed slides of images she had made and also played a short film.
The artist said that altering the meaning in an art piece could open up new venues of meaning. She also talked about layering, history and storytelling, saying creativity had no rational or religious boundaries. She discussed the geographical elements in art.
She further said miniature was not a Pakistani commodity, but belonged to the whole world. She then shared with the audience her work on different art pieces outside the US, holding a show in Hong Kong, the Trump era resistance and the American imagination around the Gulf war.
Sikander’s 10-minute film, Disruption as Rapture, was also screened on the occasion. The film is inspired by the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s 18th century manuscript Gulshan-i-Ishq (Garden of Love), written in 1657-58 by Nusrati, court poet to Sultan Ali Adil Shah II of Bijapur.
Taking the allegorical tale of connection, separation, longing and the final union of lovers through iconography of lush gardens and magical beings, Sikander uses movement and lyrics to play with the love story’s metaphor for a soul’s search for the divine. The plurality that exists in the manuscript – Hindu and Sufi, metaphor and message – is explored through a collaboration with Pulitzer Prize winning composer Du Yun and vocalist Ali Sethi.
Much like the metaphor is used to convey the manuscript’s core message, Ali Sethi explores elements from Hindu and Muslim lyrical poetry to create an improvised passage into a devotional process. The collaborative spirit of the work is reflected in the multiplicity of aural and visual languages.
The audience also visited the display of parallax, a monumental three-channel single image audio-visual animation created from hundreds of original hand drawn paintings by Shazia Sikander.
Published in Dawn, March 24th, 2018