Shahzia Sikander Madison Square Park Conservancy

Shahzia Sikander, NOW, 2023, patinated bronze, 8 x 4 x 4 feet © Shahzia Sikander Courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly
Art Martin Cid Magazine

Sean Kelly is delighted to announce Shahzia Sikander’s first major, site-specific outdoor exhibition, Havah… to breathe, air, life. Featuring two monumental new sculptures and an animated film, the exhibition will be installed in two locations: Madison Square Park, New York, and on the roof of the Courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York on Madison Avenue at 25th Street, marking the first collaboration between the Conservancy and the courthouse.

In Madison Square Park, Sikander’s towering golden female figure, Witness, 2023, is embellished by a steel hoopskirt with calligraphic mosaic details, which map the surface with the word “havah,” meaning ‘air’ or ‘atmosphere’ in Urdu, and ‘Eve’ in Arabic and Hebrew, The skirt is inspired by the domed stained-glass ceiling of the historic courtroom, with its leaded lines which resemble the longitudinal and latitudinal lines on a globe, a proclamation of the figure’s authority in the world. The sculpture’s entwined appendages suggest tree roots, something the artist likens to the “self-rootedness of the female form,” stating, “it can carry its roots wherever it goes.” Also, on view in the park is Sikander’s animated film Reckoning, 2020, in which two forms, mimicking warriors, are entangled in a joust. The film, made from multiple drawings, reveals the cyclical theme of struggle through kinetic form, reflecting upon relationships that embody moments of reckoning, such as those between migrant and citizen, woman and power, human and nature.

Sikander’s sculpture NOW, 2023, is installed on the rooftop of the Courthouse visible from the street. Rising from the base of a lotus plant—a symbol of wisdom—it is the first female figure to be installed amongst the sculptures of nine male legislators, including Confucius, Justinian, and Moses. With this exhibition, Sikander presents female figures as symbols of power and justice and examines long-standing practices and attitudes impeding the advancement of women. Through her work, the artist addresses systems of justice and injustice by situating women in positions of authority. Sikander has stated: “If we use art, media, and culture to reverse stereotypes about gender, race, immigrants, and the unfamiliar, the beliefs we pass on to future generations reflect the complex and dynamic world we live in.”

Havah… to breathe, air, life is co-commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy and Public Art of the University of Houston System (Public Art UHS). Following its installation in New York, the exhibition will travel to Houston, TX.

Madison Square Park

11 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10010

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News about art, exhibitions, museums and artists around the world. An international view of the art world. Responsible for the Art Section: Lisbeth Thalberg
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