Fabricating Economies: 2
Fabricating Economies: 2

Abdullah M I Syed

1974 - Fabricating Economies: 2 2020
  • Shredded uncirculated US dollar notes, handloomed gold zardozi thread
11 cm x 18 cm

In the series Fabricating Economies (2020), copper, silver or gold thread is hand-loomed with the shredded notes of two different currencies, disrupting and layering official narratives and hinting at the complicated stories that carry these notes from one place to another.

Syed worked with assistance to produce this work, this time with weaving artist Janet Maughan in Adelaide. 

Syed's practice of working with craft assistants is not a collaborative one, but one of 'assistant-ship', and is based on the Karkhana model. He says, 'As a contemporary artist, besides having a solitary practice I am also an advocate of collective art practice, hybridity and generational storytelling. I follow the philosophy of the studio as a Karkhana (meaning 'workshop' in Urdu).

Established in 14th century South Asia, Karkhana are sacred workshops where several artisans would work together to produce jewellery, textiles, weaponry and art. I see my studio as Karkhana, a workshop for critical thinking and contemporary art production that has strong roots in traditional approaches but remains in the present as a conceptual site where intellectual and thoughtful conversations and actions of change happen.'


Source:  excerpt from Common Threads Run Deep, by Susan Acret

The use of currency, specifically bank-notes, can be traced to Syed's childhood, "I belonged to a traveler family and my father worked for an airline and collected coins and postage stamps. This made me collect banknotes." In Currency of Love, the artist selected uncirculated and used banknotes, parts from his own collection, and many gifted to him through his network of friends, colleagues, collectors and his mother - each of whom wanted to share and participate in Syed's process of making.

This sense of interpersonal connectedness enables Syed to circulate different feelings and experiences as a way to empower his art with the well-wishers of his supporters."I see this donation as a form of sharing and love not just for my art but also a way for them to be part of my creative process... the selection of the money cut outs comes from such stories."

Ultimately, Syed notes that this body of work aims to "develop a new economic/eco system based on empathy." By circulating these works rooted in repair, renewal and rebuilding, Syed hopes that his audiences will pay careful attention to stories, memories and objects that are discarded, taken for granted or forgotten in our fast-paced world.

These moments are precious, fleeting, and destructible and because of this, as Syed reminds us, they are priceless. Source: Except from Rest Assured, Artists Profile, Michael Do 


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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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