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Now Open: Nilima Sheikh

Dying Dreaming-Front

Nilima Sheikh's scrolls are larger than life (the image above is 10 feet tall), but are best viewed from right up close to get a sense of the detail and labor that goes into her storytelling. And much of that storytelling focuses on the culture and history of Kashmir, an area known for both its natural beauty and its location between India and Pakistan. Sheikh's scrolls are imbued with the tumultuous history of the region, but also, as curator Madhuvanti Ghose notes, "a contemporary view that encourages viewers to reflect and think about this contested territory, which is central to Sheikh's identity as an artist."

Dying Dreaming-Detail 1

Kashmir's history of violence is reflected in Dying Dreaming (pictured at top in its entirety and below that in detail) in the horizontal bands of orange and red that allude to bloodshed and include large demonic figures battling human warriors. Other bands include motifs of local flora and fauna, including deer, birds, and a growling tiger. Below you can see beautifully stenciled examples of birds and reptile-like animals.

Dying Dreaming-Detail 2

One the back of the scroll are blocks of text that allude to scenes from the front. One story relates the folktale illustrated across two bands in the middle right portion of the scroll of a poor water carrier who gives everything she earns to the birds and, upon her death, is flown by the birds into the sky.

Nilima Sheikh: Each Night Put Kashmir in Your Dreams includes ten scrolls—including two created for this presentation—and is open through May 18.

Image Credit: Nilima Sheikh. Dying Dreaming, 2007–10. Collection of Lekha and Anupam Poddar.