Pakistani, active in United States, born 1969
Few contemporary artists begin their careers by learning to create traditional Indio-Persian miniature paintings, but in the 1980s, Shahzia Sikander dedicated herself to this apparently anachronistic artistic focus. In her paintings, drawings, installations, videos, films, and animations, the artist constantly demonstrates the capacity of traditional artistic techniques and vocabularies to recast contemporary discussions of home and displacement, East and West, past and present, and what it means to be a woman, especially a Muslim woman, amid these fraught binaries.
Pursuit Curve approaches these issues obliquely, strategically opting for a language of abstraction rather than polemics. The animation begins with a jostling swarm of vaguely hummingbird-like shapes; these cut-out images—which are later revealed to be colorful turbans—seem whimsical at first but also move with mysterious purpose. In another sequence, flower-like bursts over an undulating desert landscape mutate from images of celebration to destruction, as their warm palette of umber and sienna turns black and the soundtrack gives way to sampled tracks of exploding bombs.
Label from Screen Play: Life in an Animated World, June 20–September 13, 2015