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Amna Malik
Alia Syed
Alia Syed's practice as a filmmaker tests the conventions of writing.

Even though her films deploy a narrative structure they do so to unravel the very idea of beginnings and endings that is necessary to the act of making sense. Instead she uses repetition, circularity and the layering of word and image to explore the conditions under which the subject of language and desire is made present but also eludes our grasp.

Juxtaposing oblique camera angles with written and spoken words, she places the spectator in a position of negotiating and attempting to find points of correlation between two, some times three, registers of language: visual, graphic and aural. Each register offers a different form of narrative that transforms history, be it personal or collective, into myth.

Syed uses close-ups shots, framing and cut-aways to draw out the metonymic register of the image: its status as part of the world. Repetition, double exposures and time-lapse techniques expose the medium of film as a coded system of representation and particularly diegesis in mainstream cinema: shots of empty spaces connecting one scene to another that provide narrative coherence and maintain the illusion of realism.

Drawing on the 1970s and 1980s politics of feminist and Black filmmaking practices Syed's concern with experimentation is located in opposition to mainstream cinema's stereotyping of gender and cultural difference. Focusing on the language of film she deconstructs the authority of signs in a wider visual culture and uses a spoken narrative to encourage viewers otherwise alienated by avant-garde techniques to enter into the filmic space.

Still from Unfolding by Alia Syed, 1987
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