Shahzia Sikander: The World Is Yours, the World Is Mine


“The World Is Yours, the World Is Mine,” by Shahzia Sikander

Shahzia Sikander in the New York Times:

History is often held hostage by the highest bidder — whoever gets to tell the story ends up defining what happened. What happened in 2014? What mattered in 2014? It depends whom you ask. Historical narratives recount political, economic or social events, but rarely tell stories of the everyday. The mundane nuances of life are often ignored
precisely because they are so personal. But private stories are usually the ones that we connect with most; they capture our 02bwshazia-master315attention and remain in our memory. Modes of storytelling like painting and rap allow us to engage with those personal stories, becoming the vehicles through which history passes.

A major story of 2014 has been the Ebola outbreak, which has spread from West Africa to Europe and the United States. The Ebola narrative has also become the story of how we don’t want to be connected in what is supposedly a hyperconnected and globalized world. We have tried to screen for symptoms and enforce quarantines. However, the interface between human and microbe is complex. Our bodies cannot thrive without some microbes — they are an essential part of our personal ecosystems. They are always present, often lying dormant, just as narratives lie dormant until someone culls them from history’s rubble. I have chosen to respond to these events from 2014 in my work, “The World Is Yours, the World Is Mine,” (2014).

More here.