International Women’s Day — Malala and artist Shahzia Sikander featured on Netflix
Two stunning portraits of Malala and Letterman by Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander will be featured on March 8
New York: Netflix talk show, My next guest needs no introduction with David Letterman, will feature a special surprise for Pakistanis this women’s day — none other than Malala Yousafzai. However, Pakistan isn’t being brought into the spotlight just because of Malala. Lahore born, NCA educated Pakistani-American artist Shahzia Sikander has made portraits of both Malala and Lettermen for this show. The artwork is currently being used on the show’s social media promotions. Letterman’s portrait is his display picture on Instagram. Hence it isn’t just Malala bringing Pakistani women to the fore this women’s day, but also Shahzia Sikander.
Malala’s portrait portrays her staring into the distance with an intense purpose and a vision. She appears strong and resilient. Sikander has painted angels in the background which represent flight — of imagination, endeavor and dissemination of hope. But more importantly, they symbolise the struggles of the children of Swat and beyond and represent a life lived in the pursuit of knowledge, as well as a life of perseverance and action. The angels are orbiting Malala. They are also Malala’s guardian angels — while Malala herself is portrayed as a beacon of light.
Sikander is a Pakistani-American artist who has created a new vocabulary in her practice. Her unique expression brings in her training as a miniature artist, a modernist as well as globalist. Her many accolades include awards and global recognition. And overtime, her art practice has broken the studio boundaries and entered public domain in the United States and beyond. Last year, her animations were displayed at New York City’s landmark Times Square. Her work is now permanently displayed at Princeton University and her installations have dealt with a host of universal themes. Increasingly, her work is informing the popular culture and Netflix by itself is global in nature. Not only has Shahzia put Pakistan on the world map but has also enriched world art by bringing together tradition and twenty first century sensibilities in her work.
The second image by Shahzia is that of Letterman. The red, white and blue hands in the background portray the United States. The portrait reflects Letterman’s tenacity, which he has in spades, considering the length of his career and how many times he has reinvented himself, given how long lasting his career has been.
March 8 episode of David Letterman’s show will be the third in the series. The earlier episodes featured former US President Barack Obama and George Clooney as guests. The future guest list includes names like Tina Fey, Howard Stern and Jay-Z. Malala is no novice when it comes to television either. She has also appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, The Ellen Degeneres Show and twice on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. While My next guest needs no introduction with David Letterman isn’t a serious, politically charged show, it does delve into complex issues. In the Barack Obama episode, Letterman visited the Edmund Pettus Bridge, site of the American civil rights movement’s Bloody Sunday in 1965 with Obama. In the George Clooney episode, the guest and the host visited the home of Nick Clooney — George’s father, and met with Hazim Avdal, an Iraqi refugee who the Clooney family is sponsoring.
Also published in Daily Times, Pakistan.