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Pakistani Artist Animates the Times Square

Shazia1

This October, the electronic billboards at the maddening Times Square in New York City will display the creative prowess of Shahzia Sikander, an artist of Pakistani descent who lives and works in NYC. Public art involves space, memory and an aesthetic that travels beyond studios and carefully curated museum ethers. It is also a vehicle whereby an artist speaks to, absorbs the milieu, and even reinvents it.

For any artist, this is a moment of fruition and splendor. Every night, from October 1-31, at 11:57 p.m. sharp, Sikander’s animation entitled Gopi-Contagion will add another powerful layer to the skyline of New York City. Not unlike the briskly unfolding stories of the city, the Gopi-Contagion takes the viewer through a fantastic motion of hundreds of digitally animated drawings that swarm and turn into a metaphor for collective performance. There could not be a more befitting tribute to NYC nor a more apt symbol of the energy and undecipherable movement of the urban space.

Midnight Moment: Shahzia Sikander, Gopi-Contagion October 1, 2015 - October 31, 2015 every night from 11:57pm-midnight Photograph by Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts. Midnight Moment is a presentation of the Times Square Advertising Coalition (TSAC) and Times Square Arts. Midnight Moment: A Digital Gallery is the largest coordinated effort in history by the sign operators in Times Square to display synchronized, cutting-edge creative content at the same time every day. Gopi-Contagion consists of flocking particles made up of the silhouettes of hair from the Gopi, female worshipers of the Hindu god, Krishna. Hair from the female figures is then isolated to cultivate new associations. When in motion, the silhouettes looks like insects, birds, bats, or can translate as particles. The flocking reflects behavior of cellular forms that have reached self-organized criticality, resulting in a redistribution of both visual information and experiential memory.(Image credit: Ka-Man Tse for @TSqArts)
Sikander was born and educated in Pakistan. She was trend setter as an undergraduate at Pakistan’s best known art school — the National College of Arts. In early 1990s, she arrived in the United States to pursue an MFA at Rhode Island School of Design. Since 1997, New York is her adopted home like millions of other migrants who delineate the abundance and contradictions of American life. […]

Jammed in Delhi

The more we fight, the more similar we look. After the 2008 tragic incidents in Mumbai, the Indian and Pakistani media displayed their raw power and the ability to shape public opinion. In India, the media stirred up jingoism even in the most pacifist human, while in Pakistan the India-centric paranoia and its paradoxical counterweight - our nuclear prowess - were drummed up by idiot box gurus.

August 12th, 2010|Arts & Culture, Published in The Friday Times|6 Comments

Redefining national interest

There is simply no alternative to information flow and dismantling the iron curtain. Let the disputes remain, but allow media access across the borders. Let the legislators take the lead and ask the Foreign Office mandarins to take a backseat. Trade and political compacts shall take care of the peace process. History teaches us that the pursuit of rational self interest is the key to progress. Annihilation is the fate of irrational states.

On Krishna and Ranjha – the syncretic Punjab

I am posting an article by Manzur Ejaz that was published by The Friday Times. This is a great piece:

Fascination with the naughty butter-thief Krishna in the Punjab remained the undercurrent of the cultural milieu for so long that Waris Shah’s Ranjha appears to be a reincarnation of Krishna in many aspects. Khawaja Ghulam Farid, the great Sufi poet, also considered Krishna a sacred prophet of the Hindus like all other prophets. But the question is how did the dark skinned Lord come to dominate the land of the fair Aryans who believed that a dark man ‘seen seated in the market-place [is] like a heap of black beans.’ […]

April 10th, 2009|Personal|8 Comments

Visit to Sindh, Udero Lal (the story of the Dalits in Pakistan)

Yoginder Sikand writing at DNA

South-central Sindh isn’t quite a favourite holiday destination, but I spent a fortnight there while on a vacation in Pakistan. My host was the amiable, 70 year-old Khurshid Khan Kaimkhani, a noted leftist activist, author of the only book on Pakistan’s almost 3 million Dalits. Along with a friend, he edits the only Dalit magazine in the entire country.

Khurshid met me at the railway station in Hyderabad, Sindh’s largest city after Karachi. We drove to his small farm, on the outskirts of his hometown of Tando Allah Yar, a two hour bus-ride ahead. Several Bhil families live on the farm. “They are like my own family,” Khurshid says as Baluji, a tall, handsome Bhil man, manager of the farm, welcomes us in with a tight embrace. […]

August 18th, 2008|Guest Writer, India-Pakistan History, Personal|2 Comments