January 9 – February 24, 2004
Talwar Gallery is pleased to announce the US premiere of Eating Grass, a new film work by Alia Syed. This exhibition will open to the public on Friday, January 9, and will be on view through Feb 24. There will be an opening reception with the artist on Friday January 9 from 6-8 pm.
Eating Grass is a poetic and compelling new work from Alia Syed. Filmed in Lahore, Karachi and London and encompassing five stories relating to the times of day for Muslim prayer, the work explores overlaps between time, memory and location. The title of the work is a reference to a quote made by President Bhutto of Pakistan in 1974, who in response to India exploding a nuclear device promised the Pakistani people that they too would have their own nuclear weapon at all costs, even if it meant “Eating Grass”.
Moving through daily rituals inside the walls of a haveli in Pakistan to those of life outside, the film encapsulates the passage of time through the changing emotional tones of urban metropolitan rhythms. As the bustle of modern life outside parallels, and slowly transcends the changing nature of the day’s light, so Ms. Syed suggests it is possible for the spirit within to sublimate. The surreal nature of Syed’s work is accentuated by the accompanying voiceover in Urdu and English; its textural and out-of-sync pattern conveys meaning while at the same time building a rhythm of tonal cadences similar to structures found in Indian classical music or jazz.
Alia Syed’s work explores issues of identity and representation, often employing rhythmic and cyclical elements in which characters, places, text, images, and sound coincide with and at times oppose conventional narrative structures. Syed’s interest in time and memory is the basis for her storytelling, in which the personal reality is interwoven with the film’s narratives, ultimately creating a space for dialogue and reflection.
Alia Syed was born in Swansea, Wales (UK) of Indian and Welsh descent. She completed her Bachelors in Fine Arts from University of East London in 1987 and Postgraduate work in Mixed Media from Slade School in 1992. While pursuing experimental filmmaking over the last decade and a half, Syed had also taught and lectured at Central St. Martins (1992, 93, 97 and 2001), Glasgow School of Art (1994) and Chelsea School of Art (1996-2000). Syed’s work has been screened at film festivals and museums worldwide, including Arrows of Desire (1991) at The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London; Pandemonium (1996) and Views of London (1997); 25 years of British Avant Garde at Tate Gallery, London (1991); Beyond Destination at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (1994); Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand (1996); Performing Bodies at Tate Modern, London, UK (2000); Personal Space, A Century of Artists’ Films in Britain at Tate Britain, London (2003). In 2002 a major retrospective, Jigar, showcasing selected film works of Alia Syed was organized by inIVA, London, UK traveling to Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (GOMA), Glasgow, Scotland; The New Art Gallery in Walsall, UK and Turnpike Gallery, Manchester, UK. In October 2003, Eating Grass was premiered at The Space, inIVA in London, UK.
Alia Syed lives and works in London, England.
For further information, please contact the Gallery at: 212 673 3096