Moneyscape II explores the construction of grand narratives surrounding modern-day mythologies through hand-cut pop-up dioramas made of various banknotes. Moneyscape II visualises levels of cultural assimilation as a significant difference between the art, architecture and belief systems of Japan and the US, who were once enemies but now have major influences upon each other’s cultural, political, and economic landscapes.
After more than 200 years of voluntary isolation, Japan was forced to open its doors to the western world in 1854 and eventually globalised its economy, rapidly exporting to the west and beyond throughout the mid-20th century. The inclusion of Shureimon, a landmark gate at Shuri Castle, cherry blossom flowers, and the majestic Mount Fuji all suggest the threshold between traditional and modern Japan. Similarly, the US one dollar bill is emblazoned with the nation's official motto “In God We Trust”, the nationally revered bald eagle, and mysterious occult symbols, such as the Eye of Providence. Through the fusion of Japanese yen and US dollars, Moneyscape II locates itself within a socio-political geography that is governed by systems of divine economy that are maintained through tropes of cultural homogeneity.
Courtesy of Aicon Gallery, New York
Dr. Abdullah M. I. Syed is a Pakistani-born contemporary artist living and working between Sydney, Karachi and New York. Trained in diverse disciplines, Syed utilises a variety of mediums and techniques including sculpture, video installations, drawing, performance and texts to investigate collisions between art, religion, economy and politics.
Syed earned a PhD in Art, Media and Design (2015) and a Master of Fine Arts (2009) from University of New South Wales. He also holds a Bachelor of Art in Design (1999) and a Master of Education (2001) from University of Central Oklahoma. His work has been featured in ten solo exhibitions and several national and international curated group exhibitions and performance events such as Time of Change, ACE Open, Adelaide (2018); Asia Contemporary Art Week, Thinking Project, Asia Society Museum, New York (2017); Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts (AsiaTOPA), Melbourne (2017); Karachi Biennale (2017); Between Structure and Matter, Aicon Gallery, New York (2016); Creative Accounting, Hawkesbury Regional Gallery, Sydney (2016); Future Archaeology, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney (2015); and Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto (2015). In 2017, Syed was the recipient of NAVA’s 2017 Carstairs Prize, 2009 Blacktown City Art Drawing Prize and Individual Artists of Oklahoma’s 2003 Installation Artist of the Year award.
hand cut and assembled Japanese yen and uncut sheet of US one dollar bills in custom-made Perspex vitrine
45 x 33 x 26 cm
Judges of the 2018 Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize: Michael Lynch AO CBE (Australian Arts administrator, former Director of Sydney Opera House and former CEO of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, Hong Kong) and Amanda Love (Director Loveart, independent Art Advisory).
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