The Pakistani-born artist Shahzia Sikander was quick to highlight on her Instagram feed last month a biting comment from an anonymous contributor on social media, which compared Madonna with one of her artworks. “At the Grammys [held last month in Los Angeles] the satanic ritual performed by Sam Smith was introduced by pop icon Madonna, who ‘coincidentally’ looked like the new pagan statue in New York,” said the disgruntled viewer, who was clearly not keen on Madonna’s braided hairstyle. The “pagan statue” refers to Sikander’s first site-specific outdoor sculptures recently unveiled in New York’s Madison Square Park and on the rooftop of an adjacent courthouse.
Both sculptural figures have braided hair, rather like spiralling ram’s horns, and pose in an arms-akimbo power stance. Sikander hit back, saying that she was “honoured to be in such a pioneering woman’s company [i.e. Madonna] and the only unholy thing here is the hate”. Ouch.