Shahzia Sikander is known for transforming the traditional small paper format of the miniature into detailed, living, and magnificent digitally animated stories. Just like the miniature itself, Sikander’s works overflow with colour, details, and meanings. The exhibition presents her most recent video installation Parallax (2013), previously shown at the Sharjah and Istanbul Biennales, the video work The Last Post(2010), as well as a selection of works on paper.
In 2011, Shahzia Sikander went to the Arab emirate Sharjah to be a part of the local biennale. On her car trips around the country, she met the desert and not least the coastline at Hormuz – the historical hot spot from which one fifth of the world’s oil is shipped from the Persian Gulf. This meeting has resulted in the 15 metres long, cinema-sized video installation, Parallax. In Parallax, hundreds of Shahzia Sikander’s miniature drawings and gouaches are transformed into living animations, isolating and copying her own images, millions of them, until they become an immensely detailed and overwhelming work. The perspective changes from details resembling close-ups of soil, sand, water, and blood, to a kind of bird’s-eye view of this strategic area, only the next moment to change into something which looks like flocks of thousands of birds, then flowing black oil, then swarms of people ... Put together, Parallax becomes a complex and beautiful story of power and control.
The other major work of the exhibition, The Last Post, is a story about the powerful British East India Company. This company held sway as one of the world’s most powerful corporations from the 17th century and for another 250 years, mainly in what today is India and Pakistan, and had immense influence on global trade and politics.