Abdullah M. I. Syed - Cash is king in these garments of note
Neha Kale, Sydney Morning Herald , May 16, 2019
When Abdullah M.I. Syed was growing up in Karachi, his father, who worked for an airline, would sometimes bring home foreign currency. These strange banknotes, with their images of historic leaders and unfamiliar landscapes, fired his imagination. "To me, they [represented] an introduction to a country," says Syed, a conceptual artist and designer who works between Sydney, Karachi and New York. "I always looked at the leader printed on the back and was told 'This is Big Ben, this is Mount Fuji' and one day I would go there."
OK Democracy, We Need to Talk, a group exhibition at the Campbelltown Arts Centre, opens on the eve of the Federal Election.
Syed has contributed Capital Couture, which consists of iconic garments fashioned from banknotes.
There's a military coat famously championed by George Washington, made entirely from hand-folded US dollar bills. There's the sherwani, a structured, knee-length garment spun out of Pakistani rupees, worn by the founder of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
And there's Mao Zedong's Mao Jacket, woven out of bank notes featuring tranquil Chinese mountains
Fashion has always worked parallel to politics and culture.
Syed says the garments worn by heads of state have always helped leaders telegraph messages about power to a global audience.
"Fashion has always worked parallel to politics and culture," says Syed, who is also using $5 notes to create a version of the Driza-Bone raincoat Australia gifted world leaders under John Howard during the APEC summit in 2007.