Eating Grass

(Los Angeles, August 6, 2012) — 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, on view from August 11, 2012 – July 28, 2013. 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 the five daily prayers. The film’s title references a remark made by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1974 amid the nuclear arms race with India, who said his people would have their own nuclear weapon even if it meant “eating grass.”

While the title evokes a particular moment in Pakistan’s history, the film itself captures the ebb and flow of urban dwellers as they move through bustling streets and marketplaces and quiet interior spaces from morning to night. Syed questions traditional notions of storytelling and language in her work to explore issues of identity, representation, and intercultural communication. Syed’s process is labor-intensive, shooting first in 16mm film and then reshooting each frame with an optical printer. Objects in the same scene appear to be moving at different speeds. Colors and figures flash in and out of focus like fragmented memories. A layered soundtrack mixed with passages of Syed’s prose — recited in English and Urdu — plays over this landscape, adding yet another narrative dimension to the work.

Exhibition: Eating Grass On View: August 7, 2012-July 28, 2013 Location: Ahmanson Building, Fourth Floor
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