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Disruption as Rapture

Shahzia Sikander (Pakistani (active United States), born 1969) Composed by Du Yun (Chinese, born 1977) Collaborator Patrick O’Rourke (American) Commissioned by Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (founded 1876)

Disruption as Rapture is an animation—an atmospheric experience—created by the Pakistani American artist Shahzia Sikander. It’s inspired by the museum’s Gulshan-i Ishq (Rose Garden of Love, an exceptional intact eighteenth-century manuscript with ninety-six illustrations. (See one example here.) Intrigued by the intricacy of the illustrations, which unfold a Hindu love story recast as a Sufi tale, the artist explores its universal message—one that positions love as a metaphor for the soul’s search for, and connection with, the divine.

Sikander’s inventive and original work often uses South Asian and Persian manuscript painting as a point of departure. By experimenting with size and scale, Sikander reworks these forms into a wide range of media, producing thoughtful statements that question traditional gender roles, cultural norms, and the volatile political histories of the region.

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