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Shahzia Sikander

Reinventing the Dislocation

1997

Artist

Shahzia Sikander (1969-)

Title

Reinventing the Dislocation

Date

1997

Medium

Transparent and opaque watercolor, tea and charcoal on board

Dimensions

Sheet: 13 × 9 5/16 in. (33 × 23.7 cm)

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with funds from the Drawing Committee

Accession number

97.83.4

Object Label

Shahzia Sikander’s Reinventing the Dislocation exploits the fragmented forms and visual disjunctions of European modernism to introduce elements of contemporary reality into the particular realm of miniature painting. This work is traditional in some ways: executed on paper Sikander prepared herself, with pigments she made from plants and minerals, it pictures the artist as a seated figure wearing traditional Persian attire. Yet other elements are contemporary: an upside-down portrait of Rick Lowe—an African American artist and founder of a community arts center in one of Houston’s poorest neighborhoods—floats improbably above her head. Although isolated in their separate spheres, Sikander and Lowe are linked through a network of thin black lines and the white cloudlike form that envelops them. By updating an ancient artistic tradition, Sikander gives miniature painting a new—and utterly contemporary—life. She also conjures her own personal history, producing a work that, in her words, is “an expression of my identity as a Pakistani woman living in a foreign land—of someone who is trying to juggle opposing and complex cultural influences.”