Shahzia Sikander – Authority As Approximation

Sep 3, 2009 – Sep 30, 2009
Para/Site Art Space
4 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan
Opening Reception
Sep 2, 2009

Shahzia Sikander


Para Site Art Space is honored to present Authority As Approximation, a retrospective of time-based video works by acclaimed artist Shahzia Sikander. For her first solo presentation in China, five video works have been selected, spanning from 2003 to 2008, representing an in-depth study on her research on moving image. The exhibition includes seminal works like SpiNN (2003), which was shown in Venice Biennial Arsenale exhibition, and it also comprises her film, the video-essay Bending The Barrels (2008).

Shahzia Sikander’s Bending The Barrels depicts a Pakistani Army military brass band, and examines this formation as a political device. The work stresses the interaction of a superimposed text and the accompanying soundtrack. On the meaning of this film, cultural critic Aditya Dev Sood explains that “In her choice of Pakistani Army Bands as a subject for visual capture and representation, Sikander triggers deep resonances from within the tradition of Indo-Islamic miniature painting. The corporeal language, rhythm, space-making and compositional effects that she discovers and creates in film appear rooted in courtly spectacles as well as in their painterly representation, in various Mughal and later Company and British Imperial styles.” This work was premiered in 2009 in New York.

The work of Shahzia Sikander is often seen as a critique and a deconstruction of the traditional imagery of India and Pakistan. Aside from her drawings on paper, her video works also consist of interferences that give rise to other readings, where the combination of musical composition and images submerges us in an all-encompassing experience.

On this occasion the venue has been transformed into a black box screening gallery to comply with the semantics and standards of the moving image inside the gallery space. The exhibition allows us to delve into one aspect of Shahzia Sikander’s artistic praxis that constitutes a departure from her seminal miniature drawings, and unveils to us the critical rigor of her approach to other media.


Curator: Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya

Main sponsor: gandhara-art


More materials are available to view on site at Para Site. 

Click here to see a full inventory of all archive materials and contact us at for enquiries, to request an appointment to view materials, and for archival materials donations.


The Archive Project is financially supported by the Project Grant of the Hong Kong Arts Development Council.



About the artist

Shahzia Sikander has solo shows in Whitney Museum (New York), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington D.C), The Renaissance Society (Chicago), MCA (Sydney) and Ikon Gallery (Birmingham), among others.


related event

Sep 6, 2009
Para Site Art Space

Curator’s Talk by Alvaro Rodriguez Fominaya


Artwork Checklist

Nemesis, 2003, Digital Animation
SpiNN, 2003, Digital Animation
Pursuit Curve, 2004, Digital Animation
Dissonance to Detour, 2006, Digital Animation
Bending the Barrels, 2008, Video


PRESS RELEASE (2009/EX_13/BOX 8/1)