Abdul Abdullah is an Australian-Malaysian artist that questions the politicisation of marginalised identities. Through portrait, painting, photography, video, installation and performance, Abdullah deconstructs representations of the ‘other’ as they manifest in contemporary cultures. He works especially with groups of young Muslims and art collectives in Australia and south-east Asia exploring different degrees and forms of stigmatisation. The artist triggers mechanisms that are invisible and yet integrated into the ideology of language including symptoms of the virtual realities of contemporary subjecthood.
For prologue, Abdul Abdullah transforms ideological and symbolic exploration into installation, where the visitor finds themselves under surveillance upon entering the space. Using security cameras and facial recognition software, the image of the viewer is relayed in real time. An on-screen textual overlay is displayed, deducing arbitrary psychological characteristics based on the physical attributes of the target. At first, a seemingly humorous ploy is replaced by the sobering realisation that the software and equipment at work in the installation is in fact already in trial use in major public spaces across the world. Here, an entirely human-made algorithmic language overwrites personal complexities and the innate multiplicity of humanity.
Abdul Abdullah’s work has been presented in solo shows at Yavuz Gallery, Art Basel Hong Kong (2019), Singapore (2018); UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2017); Lisa Fehily Contemporary Art, Sydney Contemporary Carriageworks (2017); and Chasm Gallery, New York (2015). He also participated in group exhibitions at Artspace, Sydney (2019); QAGOMA (Brisbane, 2018); Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Auckland (2018); Galerie Oqbo, Berlin (2018); MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai (2018). In 2018, he was shortlisted for the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and in 2017 he was a finalist for the Guirguis New Art Prize and Sulman Prize. His work has been acquired by numerous national collections including the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA); National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Artbank, Sydney; University of Western Australia, Perth; Murdoch University, Perth; Islamic Museum of Australia, Melbourne; Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW; and Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria.
Image : Adbul Abdullah, Hierarchies, visual concept, 2019. Courtesy the artist.