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Shahzia Sikander in #StaffPicksSaturday

I love my job. By far, the best part is working with artists who are pushing the boundaries of their craft, both intellectually and materially. This year, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Shahzia Sikander on the first sculpture she has ever produced. I am delighted to share this sneak peek of Promiscuous Intimacies, a work in progress that will debut in the artist’s exhibition at the gallery this fall entitled Weeping Willows, Liquid tongues. This complex sculpture has evolved from idea to object over the course of 18 months. In many ways, it addresses issues and concerns that have informed Shahzia’s work throughout her career, while advancing her practice in productive and provocative new directions. Ideas that are at the core of her practice - feminism, colonialism, covert systems of power, and the embrace of otherness - take on new life and resonance when expressed in this dynamic form.

Shown here is the clay model, which has now been rendered into bronze form and will soon be finished with a richly-toned patina. 

A note about the title: Promiscuous Intimacies. In her forthcoming essay on Shahzia’s work, which will be included in the publication accompanying the artist’s exhibition originating at the RISD Museum (which then travels to The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and The Morgan Library & Museum, New York), Gayatri Gopinath beautifully illuminates the origins of this work’s title. “Sikander’s work traffics in promiscuous intimacies: the word “promiscuous” is derived from the Latin “miscere,” meaning ‘to mix,’ and we can understand Sikander’s work as promiscuous in the sense that it lays bare the intimacies, the deeply imbricated nature, of apparently discrete aesthetic and cultural traditions, histories, and geographies. She both utilizes and deconstructs the idiom of Indo-Persian miniature painting in order to imagine a different present and future… [she employs] the deliberate juxtaposition of seemingly oppositional elements, a preoccupation with the female form in different visual traditions, and the play of visibility and invisibility.”

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