Shahzia Sikander. Collective Behavior

20 Apr 2024 – 20 Oct 2024

Regular hours

11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00
11:00 – 19:00

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Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel

Veneto, Italy


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Sean Kelly is delighted to share newly announced details about Collective Behavior, Shahzia Sikander’s major survey to premiere at the Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel in Venice during the Biennale Arte 2024. A Collateral Event of the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Shahzia Sikander: Collective Behavior is the most comprehensive presentation of the artist’s work to date, bringing together more than 30 works made over three and a half decades, including new site-specific drawings and glasswork created for this exhibition. Co-organized by the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art, Collective Behavior will be on view in Venice from April 20 to October 20, 2024.

For more than three decades, Sikander has been reframing South Asian visual histories through a contemporary feminist perspective. Working in a variety of mediums—painting, drawing, print, digital animation, mosaic, sculpture, and glass work—she reimagines the past for our present moment. Sikander emigrated from Pakistan to the United States early in her career. This gave her a transnational perspective, through which she examines diasporic experiences, gender, histories of colonialism, and western relations with the Global South and the wider Islamic world. Collective Behavior traces the evolution and expansion of Sikander’s practice over the course of her career, which has been rooted in a recurring lexicon of forms, figures, and ideas.

Collective Behavior traces Sikander’s ever-evolving explorations of gender, race, and colonial histories through her distinctive lexicon of forms. The exhibition brings together an exemplary selection of artwork from across Sikander’s career, illustrating her distinctive iconography and continuous reinvention through the adoption of new mediums. The exhibition includes her breakthrough work The Scroll (1989-90), created for her graduate thesis project at Lahore’s National College of Arts, which established her position at the vanguard of the neo-miniature movement. Encompassing the spectrum of her creative output from that career-launching work to the present-day, Collective Behavior also debuts new works by Sikander that respond to the architecture and history of the Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel, the city of Venice, and global histories of trade and artistic exchange.

Following the presentation of Collective Behavior in Venice, complementary iterations of the exhibition will travel to the two organizing institutions in Ohio: the Cincinnati Art Museum will share a comprehensive presentation of Sikander’s work (February 14 – May 4, 2025), and the Cleveland Museum of Art will present a focused account of the artist’s practice that frames her work in relation to historic South Asian artworks from the museum’s collection (February 14 – June 8, 2025). Together, these three presentations offer multiple vantages for engaging with Sikander’s remarkable career. The exhibition will be accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring scholarly and poetic responses to Sikander’s work.

Exhibiting artistsToggle

Shahzia Sikander

Taking part

Venice Biennale

Venice Biennale

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