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ALIA SYED

Alia Syed - Artists - Talwar Gallery

Priya, 2008-2011  16mm film

The themes that run throughout Alia Syed’s works are memory, representation, and colonialism. She constructs these themes through narratives from both personal and historical realities as well as through shifts in narrative from past to present. Utilizing both 16mm film and high-definition video, Syed mixes elements of sound, texture, and narrative to explore different subjects’ positions in relation to culture, location, and diaspora. In regard to her work, Syed has remarked, “Film can be a mirror—it can throw things back at us in a way that makes us question the ideas we have about ourselves and through this each other.”

Alia Syed - Artists - Talwar Gallery

Alia Syed was born in Swansea, Wales. She attended the University of East London, UK, where she received her BA with Honors in Fine Art in 1987. In 1992 she graduated from the Slade School of Fine Art London, UK where she earned her Post Graduate Higher Diploma in Mixed Media. She lives and works in London, UK. She has been working in experimental filmmaking for over two decades. Syed’s films have been shown at numerous institutions around the world including the Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, CT; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles, CA; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; XV Sydney Biennale; Hayward Gallery, London; Tate Britain, London; Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA), Glasgow, Scotland; The New Art Gallery in Walsall, UK; and Tate Modern, London. Syed was shortlisted for the 2015 Jarman Award for innovation and experimentation in film making in Britain.

Selected Works

Selected Works Thumbnails
Meta Incognita: Missive II, 2019
HD Video
53 minutes

Meta Incognita: Missive II, 2019
HD Video
53 minutes

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Observation Post, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
57.6” x 72”
(Created in collaboration with Matthew Walter)

Observation Post, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
57.6” x 72”
(Created in collaboration with Matthew Walter)

Observation Post (detail)

Observation Post (detail)

NE51.5400, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
16 3/4” x 23 1/2”

NE51.5400, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
16 3/4” x 23 1/2”

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012
16mm/Digital
23 minutes

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012
16mm/Digital
23 minutes

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

On a Wing and a Prayer, 2016
HD video, sound
19 minutes

On a Wing and a Prayer, 2016
HD video, sound
19 minutes

On a Wing and a Prayer (Film Still)

On a Wing and a Prayer (Film Still)

Priya, 2011
16mm film
13 minutes

Priya, 2011
16mm film
13 minutes

Priya (Film Still)

Priya (Film Still)

Priya 1, 2007-8

C Print from 16 mm film

45" x 34 1/2"
 

Priya 1, 2007-8

C Print from 16 mm film

45" x 34 1/2"
 

Priya (detail)

Priya (detail)

Wallpaper, 2010
16 mm film
1 hour 6 minutes

Wallpaper, 2010
16 mm film
1 hour 6 minutes

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Eating Grass, 2003
Film
24 minutes
(filmed in Karachi, Lahore, and London)

Eating Grass, 2003
Film
24 minutes
(filmed in Karachi, Lahore, and London)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Swan, 1989
16mm film
4 minutes

Swan, 1989
16mm film
4 minutes

Swan (Film Still)

Swan (Film Still)

Swan (Film Still)

Swan (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II, 2019
HD Video
53 minutes

Meta Incognita: Missive II, 2019
HD Video
53 minutes

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Meta Incognita: Missive II (Film Still)

Observation Post, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
57.6” x 72”
(Created in collaboration with Matthew Walter)

Observation Post, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
57.6” x 72”
(Created in collaboration with Matthew Walter)

Observation Post (detail)

Observation Post (detail)

NE51.5400, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
16 3/4” x 23 1/2”

NE51.5400, 2018
Pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper
16 3/4” x 23 1/2”

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012
16mm/Digital
23 minutes

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012
16mm/Digital
23 minutes

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012

Panopticon Letter's Missive I, 2012

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

Panopticon Letter's Missive I (Film Still)

On a Wing and a Prayer, 2016
HD video, sound
19 minutes

On a Wing and a Prayer, 2016
HD video, sound
19 minutes

On a Wing and a Prayer (Film Still)

On a Wing and a Prayer (Film Still)

Priya, 2011
16mm film
13 minutes

Priya, 2011
16mm film
13 minutes

Priya (Film Still)

Priya (Film Still)

Priya 1, 2007-8

C Print from 16 mm film

45" x 34 1/2"
 

Priya 1, 2007-8

C Print from 16 mm film

45" x 34 1/2"
 

Priya (detail)

Priya (detail)

Wallpaper, 2010
16 mm film
1 hour 6 minutes

Wallpaper, 2010
16 mm film
1 hour 6 minutes

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Wallpaper (Film Still)

Eating Grass, 2003
Film
24 minutes
(filmed in Karachi, Lahore, and London)

Eating Grass, 2003
Film
24 minutes
(filmed in Karachi, Lahore, and London)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Eating Grass (Film Still)

Swan, 1989
16mm film
4 minutes

Swan, 1989
16mm film
4 minutes

Swan (Film Still)

Swan (Film Still)

Swan (Film Still)

Swan (Film Still)

Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London
Public Intimacies, Correspondences: A Programme of Films by Alia Syed January 19, 2020

Taking as a point of departure her epistolary project Letters to Leena, a series of correspondences to her mixed heritage daughter, curator Jemma Desai and artist Jasleen Kaur present a selection of works from British experimental filmmaker Alia Syed.

Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, Stuttgart
Württembergischer Kunstverein Stuttgart, Stuttgart
Alia Syed in Sleeping with a Vengeance, Dreaming of a Life October 19, 2019 - January 12, 2020

The curatorial model of Sleeping with a Vengeance, Dreaming of a Life posits itself against an art industry’s paradigms of efficiency and production, which stand into relation to real conditions of production and often deprive exhibitions of their potentiality. The exhibition is instead taken as a medium which gives us an opportunity to share knowledge and create new meaning.

Yale Center for British Art
Yale Center for British Art
Alia Syed in Migrating Worlds: The Art of the Moving Image in Britain October 10 – December 29, 2019

Migrating Worlds brings together work by eight of Britain’s leading film and video artists in the first exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art dedicated exclusively to the moving image.

Artforum
Artforum
Critic's Pick: Alia Syed February 2019

​Sinuating ripples along a shoreline, the sound of waves—one cannot underestimate the calming effect certain kinds of landscape have on the psyche. However, in Alia Syed’s work Meta Incognita: Missive II (2018)—the second in a trio of roman à clef–style films whose themes center around the River Thames in England—all is not what it seems.

Engaging with videos or films in a dark or semi-dark space, where things come closer to life or create a world of their own, the presence of colour, touch, sound, movement, apparitions, light and shadow, draws one into a complex technological environment. One is moved by the potentiality of the mediums used by artists, their diverse and occasionally precarious themes processed through the intricacies of looped time and nuanced languages. The world of today is disenchanting and distraught, yet alluring and demanding, desiring poise and equilibrium

4Columns
4Columns
Allan deSouza and Alia Syed March 17, 2017

Immigrant, exile, refugee, traveler, stranger: these are the figures that define our time. They are alternately the fantasy and the nightmare of globalization—neoliberalism dreams of a “flat earth,” a world system where laboring bodies travel across borders as easily as capital, while populism fears those same bodies as dangerous, even deadly, parasitical drains on local economies and civil society. 

Art Asia Pacific
Art Asia Pacific
Eating Grass: Alia Syed July 2013

Set among the pre-modern Indian paintings and Hindu and Buddhist sculptures of LACMA’s South and Southeast Asia wing, Alia Syed’s Eating Grass (2003) is a dreamy filmic experience.

LACMA
LACMA
Eating Grass: Q&A with filmmaker Alia Syed September 26, 2012

LACMA's presentation of a special screening of selected works by artist Alia Syed in their original 16mm format, in conjunction with her exhibition Eating Grass, located in the Ahmanson Building. In between screenings, Elvis Mitchell, Film Independent at LACMA curator, join Syed to discuss her work. 

Experimental filmmaker Alia Syed makes her West Coast debut at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) with an installation of her film Eating Grass.

NASREEN MOHAMEDI
A. BALASUBRAMANIAM
SHEILA MAKHIJANI
ALIA SYED
RANJANI SHETTAR in

On Line: Drawing Through the Twentieth Century

The work of the English artist of Indian descent Alia Syed (Swansea, United Kingdom) is on display for the first time in Spain at this exhibition. Her work Eating Grass (2003), is a succession of sequences in public and private spaces of three cities (London, Karachi and Lahore), assembled as a collage. 

Art Asia Pacific
Art Asia Pacific
Alia Syed: Materials for a Film September 2008

London-based artist Alia Syed presented two new films and a photographic series at New York's Talwar Gallery in late April. 

This biennale included 85 artists and collaborations from 57 cities in 44 countries, exploring the theme "Zones of Contact."  Dr. Charles Merewether, the Artistic Director and Curator described the theme as about places where people live and move, concerning cities, settlements, and the merging and separation of public and private areas where people encounter one another.  

David Thorpe
David Thorpe
Alia Syed: A Story Told April 2006

Alia Syed is primarily a filmmaker, but she is not a filmmaker whose activity takes place within the established conventions of cinema or television.

Hayward Galleries
Hayward Galleries
Alia Syed in British Art Show 6 September 24, 2005 - January 8, 2006

Now in its sixth incarnation, the British Art Show is widely regarded as an essential guide to the most significant art from Britain.  As an expression of the recent and the imminent, it offers a wide-ranging account of contemporary British art and is the most ambitious exhibition of its kind.  The exhibition is organized by Hayward Gallery, and it tours every five years in cities across the UK. 

The New York Times
The New York Times
Art in Review: (desi)re March 25, 2005

For an experience of contemporary South Asian art different in look and tone from that in "Edge of Desire: Recent Art in India" at the Asia Society and the Queens Museum of Art, try this small group show of eight artists from Talwar's stable.

The New York Times
The New York Times
Art in Review: Alia Syed February 6, 2004

''Eating Grass,'' the title of the short film that constitutes Alia Syed's second New York solo show, carries a specific political reference.

This ambitious display of 170 works by 130 artists aims for the first time to reveal the full range, variety and originality of Britain's film histories, from films made close to the cinema's birth in the 1890s to work realized at the start of the 21st century.  Many of the works have not been seen before in a gallery context, and some have been seen publicly since their first screenings.  

Art in Sight
Art in Sight
Alia Syed and Noski Deville March 2002

Secret Films and cinematographic emotion: A conversation. 

 

New Art Gallery Space, Walsall, UK | February 1 - March 10, 2002
TheSpace@inIVA, London, UK | February 6 - March 15, 2002
Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, Scotland | June 7 - September 8, 2002
Turnpike Gallery, Leigh, UK | June 22 - August 4, 2002

Features evocative and poetic film works made over a period of fifteen years by the British Asian artist Alia Syed. 

Iniva
Iniva
Alia Syed in conversation with Bruce Haines 2001