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Proposal to Park: Artist Shahzia Sikander

Mar 13, 2023 | Art

Proposal to Park: Artist Shahzia Sikander

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Proposal to Park is a series focused on documenting the progression of project artists’ proposals into exhibitions for Madison Square Park’s public art program. Shahzia Sikander’s Havah . . . to breathe, air, life is on view in the park and on the rooftop of the Appellate Division Courthouse through June 4. 

Sikander is renowned for creating work that transforms and updates the tradition of Indo-Persian miniature painting. Havah . . . to breathe, air, life,  her first major outdoor work, expands her practice into civic space. In the park, Witness, a golden female form is supported by a monumental steel hoop skirt that has mosaic detailing. On the courthouse, another figurative sculpture rises from a colorful lotus on the easternmost plinth on the rooftop. The exhibition also includes an AR component and video.

Here’s more about Sikander’s process in her own words.

Madison Square Park Conservancy:  How did your proposal evolve to meet the demands of exhibiting in a public park?  

Shahzia Sikander: My proposal evolved through conversations with the MSPC team as well as with the fabricators UAP. In the past, I had done public artwork as video projections of moving images with music, but never large-scale site-specific sculpture.  Situating the work in the park and on the rooftop opened up additional challenges of engineering the interactivity of the works with their public interface. The conversation led to creating an AR lens experience to bring to the ground virtually the sculpture installed on the courthouse roof plinth.  

MSPC: What surprised you most about exhibiting work in Madison Square Park?

SS: The response to the works has been exuberant and diverse. People feel inclined to speak more openly at a ‘public artwork’ than an exhibit inside the protective space of a museum or a gallery.  Many people commenting about the sculptures have not seen the work but are encouraged to comment on it by virtue of the work being part of the public space and thus public consciousness.

Learn more about Shahzia Sikander’s Havah . . . to breathe, air, life  by visiting the exhibition page.

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