Madison Square Park welcomed its newest installation on Tuesday, January 17th from artist Shahzia Sikander that explores the theme of justice. Titled Havah… to breathe, air, life, the multimedia exhibition encompasses scultpure, video and augmented reality all into one.
New Yorkers can check out the exhibition commissioned by Madison Square Park Conservancy and co-commissioned by Public Art of the University of Houston System on both the park grounds and at the Courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
Shahzia is most known for her works in miniatures. Therefore, Havah… to breathe, air, life marks her first major, site-specific, sculptural outdoor exhibition. With the two large-scale sculptures, she “reconsiders traditional representations of power,” shares the press release.
“Through luminous allegorical female figures, Shahzia’s project asks who is historically represented and who wields power in the justice system, both symbolically and actually,” said Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Deputy Director and Martin Friedman Chief Curator of Madison Square Park Conservancy.
The towering statue of a female figure, otherwise known as Witness, tops out at 18 feet tall in Madison Square Park. Onlookers can admire her golden form, from her hoop skirt inspired by the stained-glass ceiling dome in the New York courthouse to her braided hair symbolizing a ram’s horn to project strength.
The sculpture can actually be animated with AR via smartphone. “Cascading, intricate floral adornments” come to life on the sculpture for a wowing display that’s sure to impress. Across the way on the adjacent lawn, a flowering landscape can be viewed through a video animation.
At the courthouse, a similar female figure (this one 8 feet tall and sans skirt) emerges from a lotus atop the building. The statue joins nine other religious male legislators, making history as the courthouse’s first female figure displayed on the ten plinths.
“Shahzia demonstrates how justice is conceptually and actively vibrant across cultures and genders,” said Dr. Maria C. Gaztambide, Executive Director and Chief Curator of Public Art UHS. “And yet, while the necessity of justice is universal, it is often blindly applied. Shahzia brings to the fore the imbalances of gender and race through this exceptional work. We are proud to join forces with Madison Square Park in bringing it to fruition, while amplifying its reach beyond New York City.”
The exhibition will be on display through June 4, 2023, before traveling to Houston.
Learn more about the exhibition on Madison Square Park’s website.
📍: Madison Square Park and Courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York
🕐: January 17, 2023 – June 4, 2023