Shahzia Sikander, Reckoning


My primary medium is drawing, through which I collaborate with other languages like writing, animation, music and projection. My work stems from examining how culture and society shape imagination and representations. Reckoning is a video animation which brings together kinetic drawing, music, and lyrics into a symphonic poem. The musical score is written by Du Yun and features the Pakistani singer Zeb Bangash. The lyrics in Turkish refer to regional songs in the Balkan poetic vernacular that speak to the sensuous earth and the human quest for the unknown. Much of my work alludes to the interstices, the transitory, the mythos of the migrant and the citizen, women and power, the colonized, the artist, all that is caught between worlds, artistic vocabularies, cultures, practices and histories.
Artwork Info
Date 2020
Dimensions 4 minutes, 16 seconds
Medium HD video animation with sound
Artist Info
Born Lahore, Pakistan
Works New York, NY

Reflecting on this Year

Naomi Klein’s book On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal and Storms of My Grandchildren by James Hansen


Pioneering Pakistani American Shahzia Sikander is one of the most influential artists working today. 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 creating dialogue between traditional, historical, and contemporary 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. Sikander earned a B.F.A. from the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan (1991). Her seminal thesis work, The Scroll (1989–1990) initiated the neo-miniature movement, garnering numerous awards, exhibitions, and press. A recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship (2006) and the State Department Medal of Arts (2012), Sikander’s innovative work has been exhibited and collected internationally.