The Incantatory Power of Ayad Akhtar and Shahzia Sikander

Ayad Akhtar and Shahzia Sikander in The Nation:

In an age of visual profusion, when the vividness and abundance of images consumed for distraction and commerce is breathtaking, it might seem naive for an artist to try to create images of incantatory, even magical power. To seek a holy relationship to the image today is often seen as foolhardy.

In the Western tradition, before the Renaissance and Reformation, images were the vehicle of presence; they could summon a saint into being. Observers stood in veneration, seeking intercession, dialogue, wisdom; an image was the basis of a relationship with an order of experience far deeper than aesthetic appreciation.

The extraordinary and unique work of Shahzia Sikander proceeds from a faith in this primal power of the image, and in the belief of an artist as a seer. It is a timeless faith, at odds with our accelerated times, which only makes Sikander’s commitment to plumbing the mysterious power of images all the more remarkable.

More here.