Art We Heart :: Abdul Abdullah
September 21st 2015
Abdul Abdullah is the sharp, critical and on-point voice of many marginalised members of society.
For Abdul, art acts as a vehicle to explore his points of interest. This largely stems from his personal experience growing up as a Muslim in post 9/11 Australia. In recent years it has extended to include the disaffected byproducts of colonisation.
To tackle these big ideas, Abdul plays with our individual expectation of signs and symbols. In his photographic series Siege (2014), his face is covered by an ape mask – an original make-up tester mask from the 2001 ‘Planet of the Apes’. By wearing the mask, Abdul becomes faceless and interchangeable, just as racist generalisations and blame are passed from one to the many.
In Siege, each photograph’s title is crafted to challenge the viewer’s own position, using a playful combination of words and images. ‘You See Monsters’ asks the question: is it the mask or the traditional Islamic dress that makes the figure appear threatening? In the portrait ‘Them and Us’ he asks: who do you align yourself with? The tender moment between man and ape is thrown back at the viewer in ‘The lies we tell ourselves to help us sleep’ (2015).
Working with painting, photography and film, Abdul favours whichever medium best carries the idea. In his studio in Sydney, he reveals that you can tell his level of focus based on the music he is listening to. Rap and podcasts for the light work, then straight-up mindless top 40 when he is deep in the chamber. At that point, nothing could distract him.