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Alia Syed - Eating Grass

16 October – 22 November 2003
Wednesday – Saturday, 12-6pm

inIVA is pleased to present Eating Grass, a poetic and compelling new 16mm film from talented artist and film-maker Alia Syed, shown for the first time at TheSpace@inIVA.
Shot in London, Karachi and Lahore and encompassing five stories relating to the times of day for Muslim prayer, this visually stunning work explores overlaps between time, memory and location through Syed’s use of allegory and complex editing, reminiscent of historical avant-garde film practices. The title is a reference to a quote made by President Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan in response to India exploding a nuclear device in the early 1970s. He promised the Pakistani people that they too would have their own nuclear weapon at all costs even if it meant ‘eating grass’.
Connecting different places and peoples through richly layered imagery and sounds, Eating Grass contains documentary footage accompanied by a voiceover in both Urdu and English. By building tonal rhythmical cadences - similar musical structures to those found in jazz or Indian classical music - meaning is not only conveyed by what is said, but also by repeated rhythms built up as the textures of individual voices slip from one language to another. Meanwhile the shadows cast by the sun become emotional triggers for a young woman whose present is continually enmeshed with the past.
Alia Syed embraces a wide range of film practices, refusing to sit in a single, definable form. Syed has shown at film festivals around the world and, in 2002, inIVA’s touring exhibition of her films, Jigar, travelled to London, Walsall, Leigh and Glasgow. In 2003 she had a solo exhibition at New York’s Talwar Gallery.
Eating Grass is commissioned by Film London Artists’ Film and Video Awards and inIVA.


inIVA’s programme of exhibitions and talks features artists and thinkers who explore the creative possibilities provided by the constant interaction of cultures in the contemporary world.

Eating Grass is part of inIVA’s Archive season, a series of exhibitions, talks and film screenings which re-tell forgotten histories in a way that casts a different light on the past and present.


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