In November, I went to visit the art gallery at my university, Tufts, in Boston, and was happily surprised to find an exhibition by the amazing Pakistani artist, Shahzia Sikander.
Shahzia Sikander, born in Lahore, Pakistan, is famous for her Persian-inspired miniature paintings, political messages and use of unique media in her works. Besides Persian miniatures, her works include words in Urdu and Farsi (such as the word “azadi,” freedom), drawings, paintings, animations, videos (which often include sound and music), and mural paintings – often with vivid splashes of color.
Her most striking work present at the gallery was without doubt the exhibition Parallax, created in 2013. Parallax is a 3-channel HD digital animation installation, consisting of animated drawings and paintings, recited Arabic poetry and music by Du Yun.
The installation was inspired by the Strait of Hormuz, a historically and politically disputed area in the Persian Gulf. Animated drawings, music and poetry represent not only the strait itself, but also all the disputes and warfare that have taken place because of its strategic location. The art is a complex and colorful representation of conflict, identity, migration, and cultural interactions. All this presented on a very large screen, filled with intricate detail.
Parallax is powerful not only because of its political backstory, but also simply because of the way it has been put together. The music and poetry create an atmosphere of tension and intensity, and will definitely leave a deep imprint on any viewer. You will feel impressed, intrigued, and sometimes uneasy. Parallax is one of the most engaging and intricate installations I have ever seen.
If there is a Sikander exhibition near you, I definitely encourage you to go check it out!