Shahzia Sikander’s animated art evokes worlds of uncertainty

Sebastian Smee in the Boston Globe:

CopyCombining the techniques of traditional Indo-Persian miniature painting with 21st-century digital technology, Shahzia Sikander makes bewitching animations that cry out for multiple viewings. Her exhibition at Tufts University Art Gallery includes works on paper and photographs, but is centered on a stunning 15-minute animation, “Parallax,” projected on a wide, curving screen.

The film is derived from Sikander’s own paintings in watercolor, gouache, and ink. Their morphing forms, drenching colors, and disruptive details are lent added life and meaning by a haunting soundtrack. Produced by Sikander and the composer Du Yun, this audio helps steer us through the visuals. It shifts between the sounds of a bustling market, words intoned by three contemporary poets from Sharjah, and evocative music.

“Parallax” — the word describes two views of the same thing which are both real and yet incommensurable — is a work that asks to be experienced, then parsed, then experienced again. The middle part, the interpreting stage, can feel like hard work: Sikander’s struggles to give her work “relevance” can veer off, at times, into a free-associative gush.

But the work itself defeats objections, simply because it is so visually and acoustically captivating.

More here.