Special Events


Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 10am - 5pm

Location: Peabody Essex Museum

Join us for a weekend to explore South Asia's diverse artistic heritage through a contemporary prism of art, music, film, discussion and dance. 

Made possible by the Lowell Institute and the George Swinnerton Parker Memorial Lecture Fund.



Intersections: Anila Quayyum Agha 
10 am-5 pm | Wheatland Gallery

Intersections is an immersive single-room installation that bathes the visitor in a geometric array of light and shadow. Inspired by traditional Islamic architectural motifs, Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum Agha's laser-cut steel lantern conjures design from the Alhambra Palace, a historic site in Spain where a thousand years ago Islamic and Western cultures thrived in coexistence. 


Treasures of the Indus, Episode 1: Pakistan Unveiled
11 am-noon | Morse Auditorium
Tickets available day of program

Join us for the U.S. premiere of the BBC documentary Treasures of the Indus, written and narrated by PEM Curator of South Asian Art Sona Datta. Pakistan Unveiled looks at the long, multi-faith narrative of the region's past from the early cities in the Indus Valley, Pakistan's rich Buddhist history to the garden city of Mughal Lahore. Welcome by Curator of South Asian Art Sona Datta and exhibition artist Anila Quayyum Agha precedes film.


Pakistan Unveiled: A New Country With an Old History 
Noon-12:45 pm | Morse Auditorium
Tickets available day of program

Discussion includes BBC award-winning director Hugh Thomson, artist Faiza Butt, historian Ayesha Jalal and Curator Sona Datta.



1-4 pm | Atrium

A multicultural sensibility characterized the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, who commissioned the Taj Mahal in 1632 for his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Create your own design with repeated symbols based on the word "love" written in scripts from a variety of cultures.


2:30-3:00 pm | meet at information desk
Tickets available day of program

Artist Mithu Sen takes you on an alternative and participatory tour of the museum. 



1:30-2:15 pm | East India Marine Hall
Seating is first-come, first-served

Jawwad Noor, disciple of Shahid Parvez Khan, performs a khayyal recital with sitar. Accompanied by tabla player Nitin Mitta.



Treasures of the Indus, Episode 2: The Other Side of the Taj Mahal
3:15-4:15 pm | Morse Auditorium
Tickets available day of program

The second episode looks at the story of the people of the Mughal Empire who melded their Persian heritage with the indigenous Rajput traditions of India to create an aesthetic that culminated in the impossible grandeur of the great Mughals. 


India Today: Identity at the Intersection of Cultures
4:15-5 pm | Morse Auditorium
Tickets available day of program

Join exhibition artist Anila Quayyum Agha, collector Nirmalya Kumar and PEM's Sona Datta, Curator of South Asian Art, and Trevor Smith, Curator of the Present Tense. 


Imagine, South Asia programming continues on Sunday, February 7 


Special Guests

anila aghaAnila Quayyum Agha

Anila Quayyum Agha is an artist whose life and work embody the very notion of intersectionality, of transgressing the arbitrary boundaries of race, religion, gender, and geography.

Her 2013 ArtPrize-winning installation, Intersections, appropriates and transforms traditional Islamic geometric motifs, decorations that once symbolized difference and exclusion, to create an amorphous, all-encompassing, totalizing space that embraces and welcomes all visitors. This sense of crossing boundaries, both real and imagined, has permeated Agha's consciousness from her childhood to the present.

Agha is an Associate Professor at the Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her work has been featured in many solo and group exhibitions at national and international arts institutions. Residencies and awards include the New Frontiers Exploratory Research Grant, Indiana University (2013); New Frontiers Travel Grants to Mexico (2012), Spain (2011), and Pakistan (2010); and a Houston Center for Contemporary Craft residency (2005). Born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1965, Agha received her BFA in textiles from the National College of Arts, Lahore, later immigrating to the United States, where she received her MFA in Fiber Arts from the University of North Texas in 2001.



faiza buttFaiza Butt 

Faiza Butt is an artist from both Lahore and London. Her work blurs the lines between what is traditional and modern, Western and Eastern, dangerous and quotidian. In so doing the artist questions our pre-programmed perceptions about 'the other.'

Butt's paintings are painstakingly crafted using a near obsessive technique of tiny dots - recalling Mughal miniature painting - a meticulous process that involves covering the painted surface with individual dots. However, through Butt's hand these dots also replicate pixels, structure of a photograph, on polyester translucent films. This is especially relevant given that the artist created these drawings from photographs in newspapers and magazines.

Butt's choice of medium -- ambitious, highly detailed drawings with ink pens -- is a response to her years at the Slade School of Art, where large, physical, muscular and "technologically advanced" work often held more worth than smaller works that showed more contemplation. Butt's work is held at the British Museum and the V&A and private collections worldwide. She currently has a mid-career retrospective "Paraocosm" touring the U.K.



Ayesha JalalAyesha Jalal

Ayesha Jalal is the Mary Richardson Chair in the Department of History at Tufts University. She received her Ph.D. in History from Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1998, Jalal was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow. Before joining Tufts, she held teaching positions at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Jalal is best known for her book, The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League, and the Demand for Pakistan (Cambridge University Press, 1985), which built upon her dissertation work at Trinity College. Projects include the following books: Battle for Pakistan, Jinnah, and Companion to Modern South Asia co-authored with Sugata Bose. Her most recent book, The Pity of Partition, looks at the life and work of Manto across the India-Pakistan divide.



Nirmalya Kumar Nirmalya Kumar 

Nirmalya Kumar is a member of the Group Executive Council of Tata Sons and is responsible for strategy at the group level. Dr Kumar has worked with more than 50 Fortune 500 companies in 60 different countries. He has served on multiple boards of directors, including ACC, Bata India and UltraTech Cement.

Dr Kumar is one of the world's leading thinkers on strategy and marketing and has authored six books, the latest Brand Breakout: How Emerging Market Brands Will Go Global (Palgrave Macmillan; 2013). Dr Kumar is also a leading collector of early 20th-century Indian art including a world-class collection of paintings by Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore. His commitment and passion to the arts is unstoppable. k!$$!QU9TeRIfg=/TLYVr3YPkMU= 



nitin mitta
Nitin Mitta

Nitin Mitta is one of the most sought after tabla players in the music world and has established a reputation as an artist with a rare combination of technical virtuosity and sensitivity to melodic nuance. A disciple of Pandit G. Satyanarayana and Pandit Arvind Mulgaonkar, he is an acclaimed accompanist who has performed with some of India's most celebrated musicians. He has also made a mark as a versatile musician in other spheres, such as his most recent collaboration with 2010 Grammy Nominee Vijay Iyer and Guitarist Prasanna on their new Album titled "Tirtha".



Jawwad Noor
Jawwad Noor

South Asia has a rich and diverse classical musical heritage that originated in the Vedas in 1500 BCE and was influenced by native folk traditions in the Indian Subcontinent over the centuries. The Persian influence in the 13th century AD gave birth to khyaal, the dominating form in North Indian classical music today, and also the sitar, one of the best known and most versatile classical music instruments in South Asia.

Jawwad Noor began his study of khyaal on the sitar under Ustad M. Alam Khan in 1991, and later also studied with vocalists Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan and Ustad Nazir Ahmed. In 2007 he became a formal disciple of the leading sitarist Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan. Trained in playing the sitar in the gayaki ang (vocal style), he has performed widely over the years and teaches music at the LearnQuest Academy of Music.



Mithu SenMithu Sen

A New Delhi-based artist who stands as a crucial feminist voice in contemporary Indian art, Mithu Sen rose to prominence in the last decade for creating sensual and grotesque representations of the human body, animals, and inanimate objects that seethe with undercurrents of irony and wit. Her drawings, sculptures, and installations push the limits of acceptable artistic language and subject matter, often upending conventional approaches to gender and sexuality. In 2010 Sen was awarded the Škoda Prize for Contemporary Indian Art for her series of large-scale drawings Black Candy (iforgotmypenisathome), which explore homoerotic narratives of masculinity.



Hugh ThompsonHugh Thomson

Hugh Thomson is the BBC series director of Treasures of the Indus. He is also an award-winning writer, filmmaker and intrepid explorer and his passion for mountains has taken him from Peru to the Himalayas. Thomson has had a long career as a director and producer of documentaries. He was BAFTA-nominated for his ten part series, Dancing in the Street: A Rock and Roll History, which set out to tell the epic story of the 'devil's own music' from its beginnings in the 1950s to the present day. It won numerous awards for the BBC around the world. "Everywhere Thomson goes, he finds good stories to tell." -- New York Times Book Review.


‹ Back to Event listings