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Indepth Arts News:

"Jigar: Films by Alia Syed"
2002-02-01 until 2002-03-10
New Art Gallery, Walsall
Walsall, , UK United Kingdom

Jigar: derived from the Urdu word for friend or lover. Jigar brings together a significant body of work, made over the past fifteen years, by one of today's foremost British Asian artists. Alia Syed's work embraces a wide range of film practices, refusing to sit in a single, definable form. Classic feminist agendas, issues of representation, fragmented narratives and the urban landscape play alongside Syed's unpretentious celebration of sound and image.

Syed places allegory at the forefront of her film language. Typically using black and white 16mm film, Syed's elegiac works revel in ambiguities of time and place. Spoken Diary (2001), which is being re-made as a four-screen installation for The New Art Gallery Walsall, tells the tale of two parallel journeys. A woman reflects through a rainy London night, noting her thoughts as she is in transit. At the same time, the film depicts a lover's journey of self-discovery, accompanied by a poetic voiceover and intense soundtrack.

Frequently depicting the Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities of east London, Syed tackles both personal and political issues of identity, using a variety of narrative structures. Fatima's Letter (1994), showing at TheSpace@inIVA in London, is a tale told in Urdu in the form of a letter. Subtitles are provided, but they remain out of sync with the film's narration. In distinction, Watershed (1995), and Swan (1989), both screening at Walsall, respectively focus on latent and innate sexuality. Leigh's Turnpike Gallery premieres a new work, Eating Grass, which explores aspects of domestic life in Pakistan.

Jigar provides new contexts for Syed's work, outside the film festival circuit in which she has become well known. Collaborating with a diverse range of host venues, inIVA continues its support of emerging artists by allowing Syed's practice to resonate with new physicalities and meanings.

JIGAR: FILMS BY ALIA SYED is the opening project for inIVA's 2002 Jubilee Season, a national programme of exhibitions and debates that explores the re-emergence of political engagement within contemporary visual art, and raises questions of internationalism in a British context.

IMAGE:
Alia Syed
Swan, 1989


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