View, Analyze, Deconstruct: A Survey of Identity in the Works of Shahzia Sikander
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This research project will delve into a field of art history not well documented, contemporary Muslims artists. Specifically, this research project will examine the work of Shahzia Sikander, a Muslim artist native to Pakistan, and explore how Sikander portrays the concept of identity in her work. Sikander began her career in the genre of miniature painting at, experimenting with the form, testing its limitations and questioning its relevance. Sikander’s quest to question and experiment with meaning is seen throughout her repertoire, which now includes miniature paintings, video animations, drawings and installations. Sikander morphs layers of techniques and symbols, from varying artistic traditions, to create complex and enigmatic works of art which serve to deconstruct meanings attached to images. Not only does Sikander address identity in her works, but radically re-conceptualizes the concept of identity. For Sikander, identity is not an amalgamation of innate attributes, but rather “identity” is a limitless and continual process in constant flux. Therefore, Sikander’s work serves as an excellent platform for exploring, questioning, and re-examining the concept of identity. This fluid model of identity questions the rigid and supposedly unmovable labels of identity that are imposed on individuals in a world that is keen on defining individuals based on imagined differences. Therefore, Sikander’s fluid model of identity is deeply insightful for evaluating the associations and meanings that are not only attached to images, but also to group of individuals.
Dawoodi, Saad K (2014). View, Analyze, Deconstruct: A Survey of Identity in the Works of Shahzia Sikander. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from