Shahzia Sikander at Jesus College: Archives, Contemporary Practices, and Decolonisation

February 11-12, 2022

Frankopan Hall, Jesus College, and online

University of Cambridge

The global affiliations of the practice of Shahzia Sikander allows scholars from multiple fields to revisit their own work with a critical eye. This public symposium, Shahzia Sikander at Jesus College: Archives, Contemporary Practices, and Decolonisation, held in in response to the exhibition Shahzia Sikander: Unbound at the West Court Gallery (16 October 2021–18 February 2022), examines Shahzia Sikander’s practice and its relationship to several broad themes, including but not limited to: Islamic art, modern and contemporary South Asian art, queer and feminist visual practices, and decolonial politics.

Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969) is a world-renowned Pakistani-American artist who has pioneered the study of Islamic and Indian painting for contemporary practices. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the U.S. State Department’s Inaugural National Medal of Art awarded by Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in 2012. Shahzia Sikander: Unbound involves the first-ever outdoor installation of Sikander’s bronze sculpture Promiscuous Intimacies (2020) and new paintings made in dialogue with the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum.

The symposium is free and open to the public. It is supported by the Bagri Foundation, Intellectual Forum, Jesus College, Cambridge Visual Culture, and the Centre of Islamic Studies, Cambridge.

You are also free to be part of our virtual audience on Zoom. Sign up here:

The sessions will not be recorded for public dissemination.



Day 1: Friday, February 11, 2022




Jessica Berenbeim, Fellow and Curator, Jesus College, Cambridge

Introductory Lecture – “Grasping for her Necklace: Shahzia Sikander Unbound at Jesus College”

Vivek Gupta, Postdoctoral Associate, Centre of Islamic Studies and Jesus College, Cambridge


The Multiple Archives of Shahzia Sikander


Chair: Siddharth Soni, Isaac Newton Trust Fellow, Faculty of English and Jesus College, Cambridge

“Shahzia Sikander: Becoming an American Artist in 1990s New York”

Alex Dika Seggerman, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University-Newark

“To permit the visible to shape the invisible: Shahzia Sikander and the question of Islamic art”

Taushif Kara, Postdoctoral Associate, Centre of Islamic Studies and Jesus College, Cambridge 

“Not All Who Wander Are Lost: Dislocation in the Art of Shahzia Sikander and Zarina”

Aparna Kumar, Lecturer in Art and Visual Cultures of the Global South, University College London


“Double S: Notes, Infinities and Shards” – Poem written in response to Shahzia Sikander: Unbound

Bhanu Kapil, Professor and Fellow, Churchill College


Keynote Discussion


Shahzia Sikander, artist

Glenn Lowry, The David Rockefeller Director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York

Dorothy Price, Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art and Visual Culture, The Courtauld Institute of Art


Day 2: Saturday, February 12, 2022

Sikander’s Queer Optic and Contemporary Practice

11:00am -12pm

Chair: Alyce Mahon, Professor of Modern & Contemporary Art, and Fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge

“Promiscuous Intimacies: Shahzia Sikander’s Queer Curatorial Practice”

Gayatri Gopinath, Professor; Director of the Center for the Study of Gender & Sexuality, New York University

“Disorienting Time: Shahzia Sikander’s Artistic Research and its Queering Agency”

Denis Maksimov, Avenir Institute


Shahzia Sikander and Global Politics


Chair: Vivek Gupta, Postdoctoral Associate, Centre of Islamic Studies and Jesus College, Cambridge

“The Miniature Explodes”

Faisal Devji, Professor of Indian History, University of Oxford, St Antony’s College

“Still Standing”

Dan Hicks, Professor of Contemporary Archaeology, University of Oxford

with Victor Ehikhamenor, artist