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Shahzia takes new project on Bangladesh, Pakistan relation

Ershad Kamol

Shahzia Sikander, left, image of her installation Parallax.Shahzia Sikander, left, image of her installation Parallax.

One of the top ranked contemporary artists in the world, Shahzia Sikander participated in the Dhaka Art Summit with her video installation titled Parallax, which was commissioned for the Sharjah Biennale 2013.
The three channel high-definition animation work explores the historical power tensions that surrounded the control the maritime trade in the Strait of Hormuz though spectacular visuals created with digitally animated drawings and paintings and a relevant music score and narratives. The musical score contains six poems by Emirati poets specifically commissioned for the work.  The poetry in Arabic deals with vernacular content and the history of Sharjah while its points of reference remain universal.
The 15 and half minute video installation the conflicts to control the strait since the imperial era. ‘I don’t know how political my work is, but history has always been the focus of my artistic endeavours. In Parallax I’ve examined the history of conflict and trade control in the Strait of Hormuz. The visual vocabulary has been culled from drawings and paintings, cultivating new associations within the digital,’ Shahzia Sikander told New Age.
A Pakistani national, Shahzia Sikander lives and works in multiple locations across the US, Europe, and Asia. Her works had been displayed in almost all the top galleries in the world. 
She also received John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation Achievement Genius award in 2006 and Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, the National Pride of Honour by the Pakistani government in 2005 and many more.
Commenting on her first visit in Dhaka Shahzia said, ‘I feel proud and humbled to be invited to participate in the summit and to be given such a warm reception. The people here in Dhaka have been very generous.’ 
Shahzia Sikander is currently working on a commission sponsored by Samdani Foundation. ‘The commission explores the complex relationship between Pakistan and Bangladesh. Though the project, I’m interested in exploring how history is determined.  I am in the process of doing research with the poets, musicians, artists, historians, and writers in Bangladesh and Pakistan,’ Shahzia said.
As an artist, Shahzia Sikander is concerned with examining the forces at stake in contested cultural and political histories. ‘I aim to create new dialogues by deconstructing historical narratives,’ Shahzia Sikander said.
After completing her BFA from National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan in 1991, Shahzia Sikander enrolled with the US based Rhode Island School of Design and earned MFA degree in 1995.  Sikander’s pioneering and innovative work led to her meteoric rise internationally in the mid and late nineties, with survey shows at The Renaissance Society and The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art and Design (1998), The Hirshhorn Museum (1999), and a solo exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art at Philip Morris(2000). Her work has fostered international interest in exhibiting the work of other miniature painters from Pakistan.
‘At the beginning of my career I was instrumental in fostering interest in miniature painting. My work employs ideas that are often subversive and polemical in nature,’ she said.
Though Shahzia Sikander’s works consist of drawing, painting, animation, installation, and video, the miniature is at the heart of her practice. “My career has given me many opportunities which I am very grateful for,’ Shahzia Sikander said.
Shahzia advises fellow artists that they should focus on their work, believe in themselves, and be prepared when an opportunity presents itself.

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