Recent calls to ‘decolonise’ university curricula, museums, and public spaces have inspired a reckoning with the complicity of art and art history in the practice and legacy of empire. Responding to these debates, this year the Aberystwyth Art History Research Seminar Series provides a forum for those working in and alongside art history to reflect upon ways in which we might transform and broaden our practices. Zehra’s talk, Heights & Hubris? will focus on mountain scenery in Indian and Welsh paintings, which are often identified with the search for the Sublime as well as the rise of nationalist sentiment. The paper will include a discussion of Abanindranath Tagore’s alpine paintings and touch on Welsh nationalism’s fascination with mountains (for instance, the craggy peaks of painter John Kyffin Williams).
Encompassing ‘virtual visits’ to studios and museums, this Course will re-dress definitions of femininity, masculinity and the in-between in contemporary South Asian art. It will show how conventional notions of gender have been re-vamped by artists in South Asia and its diasporas. The idea of the ‘demure’ South Asian woman haunts the popular imagination; both in the ‘East’ and the ‘West’. Alternatively covered up (behind the veil) or exposed as a sexy fetish for an Orientalizing male gaze, she is de-nuded of agency. In fact, stereotypes notwithstanding, the Indian and Pakistani artworlds are dominated by women artists, collectors, gallerists and theorists.
Starting from the British Raj’s de-masculinisation of the South Asian male body, lectures will go on to discuss how Indian and Pakistani artists riff on (and traverse) gender roles. We will encounter artworks as diverse as the miniature-inspired offerings of Pakistani New Yorker Shahzia Sikander, the cartographic ruminations of the late ‘diasporic’ print-maker Zarina Hashmi and Indian Nalini Malani’s video-shadow plays, governed by powerful female protagonists. Fashion-centred, feminist fun will ensue!
The Courtauld Institute of Art, London, UK
Join us for Seeing Double: Mughal Reflections in South Asian Art, on 10 April 2021, in collaboration with the South Asia Institute of Chicago.
This intensive Saturday Study Event will provide both historical and current perspectives on South Asia’s imperial past. ‘Reflecting’ on the Mughals is pivotal to the way India and Pakistan envision their nations – and grapple with their (post)colonial history. Our discussions will revolve around the South Asia Institute of Chicago’s landmark exhibition, Old Traditions, New Narratives: South Asian Miniatures, which encompasses ‘traditional’ miniature paintings as well as contemporary re-interpretations of them. The session will create unique opportunities to experience the show virtually, meet its organisers and discuss its dominant themes. Speakers will include the South Asia Institute’s founders – collectors Afzal and Shireen Ahmad – executive director Asad Ali Jafri, artist Nusra Latif Qureshi and South Asian art historian Dr Zehra Jumabhoy.
Registration passed, for information go here.