Shilo Shiv Suleman is an award-winning Indian artist whose work lives and breathes at the intersection of Magical Realism, Art, Technology and Social Justice. Her work is unapologetically embodied weaving together the sensual and sacred, past and future- through paintings, wearable sculptures, interactive installations and public art interventions.

Her collaborations with a neuroscientist on creating art that interacts with your brainwaves and other biofeedback sensors made her recipient of several grants including the honorarium installation- Pulse & Bloom at Burning Man. She has been featured on TED, BBC, Rolling Stone, MSNBC, Tech Crunch, The Guardian, WIRED, and has exhibited her work at the Southbank Centre in London and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

Her newest body of work- “Semiprecious” explores the forces of nature- rivers, mountains, the movement of tectonic plates, wind currents, photosynthesis, rocks, moss, minerals and all kinds of invisible, microcosmic and macrocosmic love stories.

My name is Shilo Shiv Suleman-

I am the daughter of نیلوفر/Nilofer (the blue flower)  I took my mother’s surname سلیمان/Suleman (a mountain range/ a prophet) as my own because I was brought into the world through her, and was brought up by her. I am the sister of شان Shaan (pride). I am the grand daughter of نُورجہاں/Noor-Jehan (the light of the world) and قمر الدين/Kamarudin (the moon of faith). In my family line are the women Zubaida, Hamida, Farida, Waheeda daughters of Noor (illuminated) our names are written right to left. 

India (like me) is Muslim. 

Like India, i am also Hindu. 

Look (miraculous) how both faiths live inside me. 

(You can be more than one thing)

one day i’ll meet a prince disguised as a frog who will kiss me and never will i have to ask him to-
loveme loveme loveme loveme loveme
most days (these days) i am asking with every sighing breath of mine for you to
loveme loveme loveme (please) lovemelovemeloveme
maybe i am speaking to myself, maybe my father went missing, (maybe my longing is displaced, maybe i am longing for the garden, maybe i am waiting for death),
maybe my hands are too small, maybe my nose is too big,
maybe i never make myself tender, maybe you never even noticed how tender (i was)
maybe i swallow too many poems, maybe i eat too many stars,
maybe i was loved too much by my mother, maybe i give too much of my love.
maybe you just want me for my honey (and i will give you what you want)
maybe i needed your water, maybe there’s no end to thirst.
have to ask for love.
maybe you never ever have to ask for love
may you never have to ask for love
may you never have to ask for love


I am (re)learning a lost language
to speak to you in secret ways,
banished across a border
(yet hidden in our hearts)
this is how our people
learnt to love like art:
sweet nothings (electric)
eyes that linger (magnetic)
and all the softness
our subcontinent knows best.

Jaan-e-bahar/جان بہار
(the life of my garden)
Dildaar/دل دار
(the one who steals my heart)
Chitchor/چِت چور
(you come to me in secret)
(I keep your secrets well)
(king of kings)
can you
untie my mother tongue,
so I can spit my loving out.

(your intention)
(all this intimate attention)
(our secret glances)
(close tender dances)
(all the graces I conjure
to pull you closer)
(separations/complex situations)
(the wind between us)
a field of flowers
(as lions roared I whisper mysteries into your folds) (lower lip caressing earlobe)
(fingers tracing lines into a new continent
we had never explored)

Janaab, Huzur, Shehzada (my) Emperor.
I’ll let you reign over my interior kingdom,
make a sovereign territory of my skin,
mark borders, drink from rivers,
harvest salt, make your fortress.
(I’ll let you in)

(If not) I’ll make a muse out of the wind
and a desert out of thirst.
(secular sovereign immortal)

I belong to myself first.

In sanskrit the word “𝘈𝘯𝘢𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘢” ⁣⁣
or the heart chakra means unstruck or 𝐮𝐧𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝⁣
The same dual maps that trace lines across the earth, are traced in my body too. ⁣⁣
The lower chakras are offered to the goddess, feminine deep rooted with a downward pointing triangle taking us backbackback into creation. ⁣⁣
The higher chakras are crowned by an upward pointing triangle to ⁣⁣
king (transcendance) masculine. ⁣⁣
He is “neti neti” – not this/not that. ⁣⁣
She is “iti-iti”- this too/that too. ⁣⁣
Shrishti (creation), ⁣⁣
Samhara (destruction)⁣⁣
Sthiti (permanence)⁣⁣
Tirobhava (illusion)⁣⁣
Always in contrast, they meet in the heart in two intersecting triangles as some kind of undefinable (but undeniable) geometric love story.⁣⁣
In opposition they exist as -not life, not death but 𝗪𝐚𝐫. ⁣⁣
In composition they are⁣⁣
spinning starwork galaxy/ the beginning of solar/lunar dynasty.⁣⁣
Anahata is 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐡𝐢𝐜𝐡 𝐜𝐚𝐧𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝⁣.⁣
Beyond binaries and through love, we find a path through graveyards and gardens when we meet in the heart. ⁣⁣
(and this is when) ⁣⁣
the universe begins to hum itself into existence. ⁣⁣
Tantra means “to weave”⁣⁣
sex and death⁣⁣
masculine and feminine ⁣⁣
yes and no⁣⁣
wounded and healing ⁣⁣
Abstinence and sustenance.⁣⁣
traumatic and transcendant⁣⁣
myth and reality⁣⁣
sky and earth⁣⁣
dusk and dawn⁣⁣
It’s serpentine, entwined.⁣⁣
older than breath. ⁣⁣

qalb قلب‎⁣⁣
My heart, i offered you up and then flung you into the ocean last week.⁣⁣
It was a full moon night and salt and pearls gathered around you to preserve you.⁣⁣
Like an ancient pharaoh salty deep in pyramid gold, you will be safe when it’s time to return and reign again with someone who wants you. Until then, immerse yourself in deep, wander moonlit paths and singsingsing yourself to sleep.⁣⁣

praised be my uneven teeth. praise be the soft line beneath my belly, praise be the space
between my toes.
praise be my mothers rough hands/cheekbones/
praise be my chipped toenail. praise be my left breast, right breast, the space between my eyebrows. praise be my grazed knuckles.
praised be my unclenched fist. praise be the garland of my ribs. praised be my stained sheets. praise be pleasurebreath, praise be deepsighs, praise be my lovenoises, praise be moaning, praise be the (radiant) underside of my ass, praise be the parting of my hair (unkempt)
praise be the line between my lips, praise be the inside of my forearm, praise be my inner thigh, praise be the lips of my flower, praise be the dull ache in my lower back, praise be the temple of my womb. praise be my mothers cackle. praise be my grandmothers veins, praise be my resplendent nose, praise be sun-tan, praised be my lower lip.
praised be the garden of my inner arm, praised be my unshaven legs. praise be my honeyed tongue, praised be my areola, praised be ova.
praised be pollen/pollination,
praise be creation.
praised be my spine (electric)
praise be it’s nectar (ecstatic)
praise be sahasara. ajna, manipura. praised be my bicycle wounds.
praised be my fluttering eyelashes.
praised be blushing. kissing. touching.
(and when I’m done
I turn back into nothing)
I am
Softness incarnate

I spent two nights sleeping in a field waiting for you to call me.

What happened then?

I filled my mouth with your name, I looked for water with a divining rod, I called your ancestors out of their sweat and salt. I invoked your forefathers (and tried to forgive them).
I met a fertility goddess. I wept into an orchid’s mouth. I covered my body in seaweed. I traced blue lines across a map. I consulted an oracle.
I pulled at a thousand flowers
Pistil by pistil
Petal by petal
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me
He loves me

You must have heard me or a good planet must have graced me with their charms because my phone glittered and vibrated. So I turned to river and wrapped myself around your ankles.
You took me to a kingdom of mosses. I try to impress you by walking on water, offer hibiscus and milk to your demigods. Make myself a throne of sunlight and riverstones placed carefully so you could see me (shimmering).

The river was wet and began to moan. Dappled sunbeam on a branch of a tree, that waits all day for the sun to caress her. I made a shrine out of river stones, and playfully cooled your golden chest with three fingers of water. I wanted to trace rivers along your neck, down your spine, across your ( )

I sat by your feet and told you I had changed. I let you carry my stones. I asked you to lead the way. I became stronger than the river (even though my eyes still glittered like fire)

For a minute we walked on water
hand in hand. Miraculous.

(And then you ghosted me again)

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