Abdullah M. I. Syed (b. 1974) is a Pakistani-born contemporary artist, designer, scholar and writer living and working between Sydney, Karachi, and New York. Trained in diverse disciplines, Syed identifies his interdisciplinary art practice as an archival form of manzoom muzahamat, or poetic activism based on ideas of shared vulnerability, love, empathy, and memory. He has a deep interest and appreciation of the traditional visual arts and crafts, performances of masculinity and sacred rituals which Syed sees as a primary resource of inspiration and innovation for the development of his contemporary art practice. For him, a studio is a Karkhana, a workshop and a place of communication where knowledge is transferred through observation, reflection and collaboration.


Syed utilizes a variety of mediums and techniques, including drawing, sculpture, textile, video installation, text, and body performance, to examine economies, structures, and theatrics of power and gender (masculinity) in their myriad forms. As a researcher, he is predominantly interested in exploring historical and cultural connections between art as a concept and art as a craft trained skill — a dynamic relationship that remains central to the diversity of contemporary art practice in Asia especially. Materials are reactive agents within his artistic processes, purposefully entangling audiences in a web of social connections and experiences, which subsequently inform the poetic aspect of his body endurance performances that are also derived from diverse secular and sacred rituals, public performances and street theatres.