Opium’s mind-bending effects have led some scholars to connect the poppy with the legendary soma plant, widely mentioned in the ancient texts of the Rig-Veda. For the British East India Company, the drug was also a vast source of wealth and an ongoing cause of conflict between the English imperialists who fought wars over the drug during its trade relations between India and China.
But in Shahzia Sikander’s dreamy animation The Last Post, opening at Pérez Art Museum Miami (1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami) Thursday at 6:30 p.m., opium and the centuries-old struggle between East and West have been a wellspring of inspiration.
Sikander, who was born in Pakistan and now lives in the United States, is known for her drawings, large-scale wall installations, and videos that examine Western presumptions based on her cultural heritage. Her video work, which marks its South Florida debut at PAMM, flips the script on those stereotypes by exploding the image of a British East India Company opium broker as a commentary on the political and economic woes rising from imperial ambitions.
Thursday’s screening will feature a live score performed by composer Du Yin, who frequently collaborates with Sikander, and include improvised elements using voice, electronics, and a homemade stringed instrument.
May 22-Sept. 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., 2014