Alia Syed: Eating Grass

Ahmanson Building, Level 4
August 11, 2012–July 28, 2013

Alia Syed (b. 1964) is an experimental filmmaker whose work explores issues of identity, representation, and intercultural communication through storytelling and language.

Filmed in Karachi, Lahore, and London, Eating Grass comprises five overlapping narratives, each representing different emotional states experienced throughout the day that are marked by the Muslim tradition of five daily prayers.  Eating Grass captures the ebb and flow of urban dwellers as they move between the bustling streets and marketplaces and quiet interior spaces from morning to night. A layered soundtrack mixed with passages of Syed's prose, recited alternately in English and Urdu, plays over this landscape, adding yet another narrative dimension.

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Cinematography: Noski Deville, Farjad Nabi, Alia Syed

Camera Assistance: Emily Richardson, Sam Adam, Pete Baldwin, Emma Bailey, Shalalae Jamil, Shahid Karim

Translation: Syed Ali Ahmed, Nasood Nabi, Farooq Saleem

Voice Over: Maryam Rehman

Optical Printing: Genista Dunham, David Leister

Editing Assistance: Genista Dunham, Tanya Syed, Sheena Macrae

Produced by: Alia Syed, Tanya Syed, Maheen Zia

Sound Recording: Farjad Nabi, Maheen Zia

Dubbing Mixer: Chris Trussler

Kathak Dancer: Priya Pawar

Laboratory: Soho Images, Len Thornton

Film Stock: Kodak Eastman

Eating Grass was originally produced with funds provided from Film London and Arts Council England.

With Special Thanks to: Tony Curran, Maggie Ellis, Sama Fabian, Bukhat Khalid, Laraib Khalid, Nighat Khalid,  Badarul Syed Hassan, Salma Hassan, H E Abdul Khader Jaffer, David Leister, Matteela, Fakir Mohammed, Maria Fakir Mohammed, Quratulain Fakir Mohammed, Rehana Fakir Mohammed, Rizwaan Fakir Mohammed, Huma Mulji, Saeeda Sharif,  Abdul Nasser, Sharif Nabila Nasser, Lee Rogan, Julie Romain, Alia Saleem, Rif Sharif, Humera Syed, Giilane Tawadros, Marie-Thais, Len Thornton, Deepak Talwar, Talwar Gallery, Eddy Vajarakitipongse, Mathew Walter, Sharif Khalid Yaqoob, and Mazhar Zaidi.

Photo: Alia Syed (Wales, b. 1964), Stills from Eating Grass, 2003,  16mm film, transferred to HD DVD, Sound, 22:56 min. Photos courtesy of the artist and Talwar Gallery, New York/New Delhi.

Eating Grass: Q&A with Filmmaker Alia Syed

On Saturday, September 29, LACMA is presenting a special screening of selected works by artist Alia Syed in their original 16mm format, in conjunction with her exhibition Eating Grass, which can currently be seen in the Ahmanson Building. In between screenings, Elvis Mitchell, Film Independent at LACMA curator, will join Syed to discuss her work. We talked to Syed about the stories and inspiration behind Eating Grass…

The Poetry of Alia Syed’s Eating Grass

With just four weeks left to see Alia Syed’s mesmerizing film installation Eating Grass at LACMA, Unframed offers an excerpt of the experimental film and its poetic script.  Eating Grass is constructed around the Muslim tradition of five daily prayers, and this excerpt uses Zohar—mid-afternoon prayer—as its starting point.  To learn more about Syed and the making of the film, read this Q&A between the filmmaker and Julie Romain, LACMA’s Assistant Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art, published in September 2012. Eating Grass is on view on the fourth floor of the Ahmanson building until July 28, 2013…