A Slight and Pleasing Dislocation

This unfinished panel was part of a fiftyfoot mural Sikander was commissioned to make for a New York law firm. The image’s powerful iconography suggests female resilience and potency. According to Sikander, “the referents are manifold: the Jewish Shekhina, or Saqueena in Quranic parlance—the feminine complement to the masculine divine—and the chthonic mother goddesses of the Indus Valley.” The hovering female avatar holds implements of both defense (weapons) and justice (a scale). After 9/11, the figure was misunderstood as referring to violence rather than inner strength. When asked to change it, Sikander instead withdrew from the commission.

Shahzia Sikander (born 1969)
A Slight and Pleasing Dislocation, 2001
Acrylic on board
Collection of the artist
© Shahzia Sikander. Courtesy: the artist, Sean Kelly, New York and Pilar Corrias, London.