Empire Follows Art: States of Agitation 12
Ink and gouache on paper
40,6 x 30,5 cm (16 x 12 in) (unframed)
55 x 46,5 x 4,2 cm (21 5/8 x 18 1/4 x 1 5/8 in) (framed)
Shahzia Sikander is widely celebrated for expanding and subverting pre-modern and classical Central and South-Asian miniature painting traditions and launching the form known today as neo-miniature. By bringing traditional and historical practice into dialogue with contemporary international art practices, Sikander’s multivalent and investigative work examines colonial archives to readdress orientalist narratives in western art history. Interrogating ideas of language, trade, empire, and migration through imperial and feminist perspectives Sikander’s paintings, video animations, mosaics and sculpture explore gender roles and sexuality, cultural identity, racial narratives, and colonial and postcolonial histories.
About her 2020 series Empire Follows Art: States of Agitation the artist has noted:
„History is substantially the account of the movement of objects and bodies. Trade, slavery, migration, colonial occupation – these are underlying currents, the root axes of modernity. How history is told, who gets to tell the story is about hierarchies of power and my interest in decolonizing the space of Indo-Persian miniature painting through feminist critique is about re-imagining the hypermasculine. Each drawing in the Empire Follows Art series depicts a state of struggle, of being caught variously between hyphenated identities, gender, vocabularies, monetizing worlds, competing cultures and histories. The iconographies take into account cyclical themes of struggle, warfare, memory and migration as well as the ultimate frame against which all experience unfolds, death and its opposite, life.“
Sikander’s work is not about hybridity. It is not fusing cultures or aesthetics. The multiple juxtapositions reflecting gender, race, class, and language differences are arranged and rearranged to imagine visual forms that challenge fixed narratives and break binary thinking in all its forms. Sikander's work is the antithesis of the fictions of purity and authentic national culture.