Segments of Desire Go Wandering Off

At the center of this painting, a multiarmed, uprooted female tries to hold on to all she desires—a chalawa (symbolizing impermanence), a turtle (symbolizing endurance), a floating child, a portrait of a woman, and a self-portrait of the artist. Sikander painted this figure over a large portrait of a trickster drawn by the Houston-based artist David McGee. All of the faces have been partly obscured, keeping racial and cultural identities shifting. As an immigrant, Sikander was questioning the prevalence of hyphenated identities in America and who is recognized as a citizen.

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
Segments of Desire Go Wandering Off, 1998
Collage with watercolor and graphite, on teastained wasli paper
Collection of Martin and Rebecca Eisenberg
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.