Eating Grass
Alia Syed

This text-based artwork draws on the script for Alia Syed’s film Eating Grass (2003, 24 minutes), filmed in Karachi, Lahore, and London on 16mm.

Eating Grass comprises five overlapping narratives, each representing different emotional states experienced throughout the day that are marked by the Muslim tradition of the five daily prayers. The title references a remark made by Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutt,  in 1974, amid the nuclear arms race with India. He said his people would have their own nuclear weapon even if it meant “eating grass.”

Eating Grass was first published as a standalone digital publication on 22 June 2017, and subsequently included in the print publication Passage.

Alia Syed is an experimental film maker whose work has been shown extensively in cinemas and galleries around the world. She is interested in storytelling, time and memory, and the juncture of personal realities which she explores through different subjects positions in relation to culture, diaspora and location.

Alia’s films have been shown at numerous institutions, including BBC Arts Online (currently); The Triangle Space: Chelsea College of Arts (2014); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012-13); 5th Moscow Biennale (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009); XV Sydney Biennale (2006); Hayward Gallery, London (2005); Tate Britain, London (2003); Glasgow Museum of Modern Art, Scotland (2002); Iniva, London (2002); The New Art Gallery in Walsall (2002); and Tate Modern, London (2000)

She was shortlisted for the Jarman Award in 2015 and the Paul Hamlyn Artists Award in 2020.