BEN RAK / ABDULLAH M. I SYED
Ben Rak and Abdullah Syed have been working collaboratively since 2013. An artist, educator, and independent curator, Rak was born in California, in the United States, and grew up in Israel. He is presently working and living in Sydney, Australia, where he lectures at the University of New South Wales Art & Design. Rak holds a BFA in printmaking (2008) with first-class honours (2009) and an MFA (2013), both from the University of New South Wales. Dr. Abdullah M. I. Syed is a Pakistani-born contemporary artist and designer working between Sydney, Karachi and New York. His art practice weaves real and fictional narratives of east and west, seamlessly knitting together cultural and art historical references and concerns from each. 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.
PROFESSIONAL: WINNING ENTRY: SUSPENSION OF (DIS)BELIEF
'Suspension of (dis)belief ' is a digital triptych that articulates separation, respect, and brotherhood through faith. It is a collaborative project between Jewish artist Ben Rak and Muslim artist Abdullah Syed. Drawing on the historic connections between the Jewish and Muslim faiths, the work features traditional skull caps connected with a woven “umbilical cord” to imply a connection at birth which is currently complicated by entanglement. It is a visual narrative which asks the viewer to suspend their personal judgment and go beyond, to a moment that constitutes a poetic faith in unity
“Under Celestial Lights, We Turn To One Another"
Karachi, Pakistan and Sydney Australia
“Under Celestial Lights, We Turn To One Another" is a superimposed image of our two distinct realities of anxiety, Isolation and social distancing. These overlapped street views depict the locations where both artists currently live - almost 7000 miles apart. The first an image of sunset in Karachi, Pakistan where Abdullah M I Syed is located, the second, a full moon night in Sydney, Australia where Ben Rak is located. The superimposed photographs imagine a reality where the sun, the moon and the North Star all are present and guiding us on the same path. The title of the work is drawn from Jewish and Islamic prayers that are said to sanctify the celestial bodies and bring communities together.