Clements, Sharma, Dufresne, & Sikander at American Academy

Ecstasy as Sublime: Heart as Vector, RISD, AAR and MAXXI collaboration

Occasioned by the exhibition Shahzia Sikander, Ecstasy as Sublime: Heart as Vector, on view at the MAXXI through January 15, 2017, RISD Global, MAXXI and the American Academy in Rome have organized a program of events, including an film screening, a panel discussion, and an artist talk exploring wider issues raised by Sikander’s practice, with special emphasis on drawing and video, and questions of difference.

Drawing today still hangs in the balance between biology and thought, between identity and culture, between society and nature, between imagination and technological possibilities. Works on paper reveal the gaps between irreconcilable poles in human experience, embodying the ineptitude of authoritative solutions to slippages and glitches present in the “solutions” proposed by governments and institutions. Drawing, by its indexical quality and immediacy, is well equipped to reflect slippery subjectivity. It holds the potential to disentangle thinking from the impulses towards total solutions, inevitably totalitarian, through critical engagement with images, perceptions, objects and traditions.

Shahzia Sikander’s (b. 1969) deployment of the tradition of miniature painting articulates a radical lexicon. Interstitial space is central to the artist’s drawing and video compositions. History and storytelling feature prominently in Sikander’s work, which digs fearlessly into literary and visual canons across the proverbial East/West divide. Sikander’s diverse practice investigates the blurred boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, storytelling and history-writing calling into question issues around redaction, perception of authority and independence.

These concepts, which manifest in Sikander’s work, will be explored through the following events: