Gopi-Contagion | Shahzia Sikander, Anne Pasternak, Arezoo Moseni | An Artist Dialogue Series Event

Event Details

FREE - Auditorium doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Public art visionary and Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak joins internationally acclaimed artist Shazia Sikander to discuss the creative process and its application, the nature of storytelling and how historical narratives can be reshaped, redefined and re-appropriated. The conversation is moderated by Arezoo Moseni.

Parallax, Guggeheim Museum, Bilbao, July 16 - Nov 22, 2015
Parallax, installation view at Guggeheim Museum, Bilbao, July 16 - Nov 22, 2015

Focusing on the unique location of the Strait of Hormuz, and the area’s historical power tensions Parallax is inspired by the idea of conflict and control. Drawn elements come together to create dissonance and disruption. Abstract, representational and textual forms coexist and jostle for domination. Spheres made of hair spin and sing, Christmas trees made of valves and spools spout, while undulating color fields create pitch and fervor and large swaths of static noise erupt into flocks. Human voices recite and narrate, creating tension and rhythm while oscillating between audible texts and the environmental sounds. The poetry in Arabic engages the vernacular while its points of reference remain universal engaging geographical locations that can be occupied from afar, through emotion. Visual vocabulary is culled from drawings and paintings to construct the animation, giving the motifs and symbols a shifting identity as they come together to cultivate new associations within the digital space.

Times Square Arts selected Shahzia Sikander’s new short animation Gopi-Contagion as the October feature for their public art series Midnight Moment, the largest coordinated effort in history by the sign operators in Times Square to display synchronized, cutting-edge creative content on electronic billboards and newspaper kiosks throughout Times Square every night. The program premiered in May 2012 and is organized and supported by the Times Square Advertising Coalition in partnership with Times Square Arts, the public art program for the Times Square Alliance, with additional partners of participating sign holders and artists. 

The artist amidst the flock in Parallax.
The artist  amidst Gopi-Contagion.

Sikander’s painterly animation takes the viewer through the movement of hundreds of digitally animated drawings to explore the idea of swarming, or collective behavior, as an observable phenomenon yet unyielding to analysis.

The flocking particles in Gopi-Contagion are the silhouettes of hair from the Gopi, female worshipers of the Hindu god, Krishna. By isolating the hair from the female figure, new associations are cultivated.  When in motion, the silhouette looks like insects, birds, bats, or can translate as a particle. The flocking reflects behavior of cellular forms that have reached self-organized criticality, resulting in a redistribution of both visual information and experiential memory.

A parallax gap between concept and content is the core of the flock and believing a subjective realm exists within objective, physical bases, what something is like becomes more than a physical attribute. 

The artist explains, "my process is driven by my interest in exploring and rediscovering cultural and political boundaries, and using that space to create new frameworks for dialogue and visual narrative. In my work, deconstruction is not limited to the miniature-painting format; it extends to the re-imagining of historical content and entrenched symbols."

Shahzia Sikander's Parallax and other works are also the subject of two concurrent exhibitions at Guggenheim Bilbao (July 16 – November 22, 2015) and at Aidekman Arts Center of Tuft University (September 10 – December 6, 2015). A third exhibition titled Apparatus of Power will be on view at Asia Society in Hong Kong from March 15 - June 5, 2016. Also, she is a participant in The Metropolitan Museum's Artist Project Season 3. Sebastian Smee's review, Sikander's Animated Art Evokes World's of Uncertainty,  was published in Theater & Art Section of Boston Globe on October 1, 2015. 

Pakistani-born and internationally recognized, Sikander's pioneering practice takes Indo-Persian miniature painting as a point of departure. She challenges the strict formal tropes of miniature painting as well as its medium-based restrictions by experimenting with scale and media. Such media include animation, video, mural, and collaboration with other artists. Her process-based work is concerned with examining the forces at stake in contested cultural and political histories. She received her BFA in 1991 from the National College of Arts, Lahore, Pakistan and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1995. Sikander has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, including the Asia Society Award for Significant Contribution to Contemporary Art (2015), Art Prize in Time-Based Art from Grand Rapids Museum (2014), US Department of State’s Medal of Art, presented by the former US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton (2012), and a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius award”. She presented an inspiring commencement speech for the Bachelor of Fine Arts graduates at The New School, Parsons in spring 2015.

Gold Oasis, video animation with original music by Nas, 3 minutes, 2015
Gold Oasis, installation shot, video animation with orignial music by Nas, 3 minutes, 2015

Anne Pasternak is Shelby White and Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum. She was previously the President and Artistic Director of Creative Time. With her demonstrated imagination and skill, Anne envisions new ways to connect the Brooklyn Museum’s historical collections with leading-edge ideas and practices. Deeply passionate about engaging broad audiences and the limitless power of art to move, motivate, and inspire, she is a staunch advocate for the civic and democratic roles our cultural and educational institutions can play. She believes in the limitless power of art to move, motivate, and inspire, and few cultural leaders have succeeded in reaching huge audiences. Pasternak has continually championed artists and works relevant to the contemporary age. During her two decades at Creative Time, she proved herself to be ambitious and innovative, with multifaceted management skills, leading the organization in commissioning, funding, and presenting hundreds of artist projects and installations throughout New York City and around the world. Born in West Hartford, Connecticut, Pasternak holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts Administration from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and was a Master of Arts candidate at Hunter College, from which she received an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 2013.  She has presented hundreds of talks at esteemed institutions and organizations including Brown University and  the Yale University School of Art. 

Shahzia Sikander, The World Is Yours, the World Is Mine, 2014.
The World Is Yours, the World Is Mine, 2014

Arezoo Moseni is an artist. Her work has been exhibited in many solo and group exhibitions at major venues in the United States and abroad such as FIAC 2014, and it is held in numerous public and private collections including the Brooklyn Museum, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Mead Gallery and Musee de La Photographie. She is the recipient of several fellowships and grants including the Carnegie Corporation of New York | New York Times award, Kentler International Work on Site grant, Yaddo Fellowship and Artists Space Independent Project grant. She received a BFA at Utah State University, a MA and MFA at the University of New Mexico, and a MLIS at Pratt Institute. She curates exhibitions and events at The New York Public Library where she has initiated several exhibition and program series featuring the work of emerging and renowned artists, authors, critics, designers and others.

Initiated and organized by Arezoo Moseni in 2004, Artist Dialogues Series provide an open forum for understanding and appreciation of contemporary art. Artists are paired with critics, curators, gallerists, writers or other artists to converse about art and the potential of exploring new ideas.

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