Navid Sinaki: The Infinite Garden at Shangri La
Inspired by the mythological works of Persian poets Ferdowsi (940–c.1025) and Nizami Ganjavi (1141–1209), artist Navid Sinaki has created The Infinite Garden, a queer epic about a king who builds a garden for each of his three lovers; one of flowers, one of fruit, and another of glass. Each lover regales the king with tales of shrinking princes, supernatural trickery, and paramours who never quite meet until death.
Over centuries, Persian epics inspired countless painted manuscripts. To visualize his imagined epic poem, never completely written down, Sinaki has looked to digitized manuscripts as well as the more recent visual language of the early internet, GIF animations, and VHS cassette packaging.
The Infinite Garden’s short films and faux ephemera draw from the figures and iconography of 18th- and 19th-century Persian paintings, tilework, and manuscripts from the collection of the Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design. Exhibited in the Manuscript and Qajar galleries, Sinaki’s video works are presented in dialogue with Shangri La’s historic Persian art collection. Sinaki nests windows within windows to other worlds to conjure a space for queerness.
This two-part exhibition appears at Shangri La and at the Honolulu Museum of Art in the Arts of the Islamic World gallery.