Swan

1986

Syed, Alia

Alia Syed’s experimental film works explore politics and life in multicultural societies. She creates non-linear and disjointed narratives, combining these with her interest in storytelling.

Swan, 1986 was filmed on the Serpentine in Hyde Park, London. Syed’s inspiration for the work was her discovery of the body of a swan which had choked to death on fishing tackle. Nearby, construction work was taking place, with huge cranes operating near a family of the birds. The artist was struck by the similarity between the sweep of the swan’s neck and the movement of the cranes. Initially, she intended to capture both of these elements, but during the course of filming she became increasingly compelled by the swans. She found she was able to get very close to them, allowing her an intimate perspective. Her concentration shifted from established depictions of regal creatures gliding across glistening waters, to a more abstract representation. Building on this through repetition, she re-filmed selected shots at various speeds, forwards and backwards, from a 16 mm projector. The brightness of the projector bulb used was inconsistent, resulting in pulsating, rhythmic footage.

  • Artwork Details: running time: 3 minutes
  • Edition: 1 of 5 + 1 AP
  • Material description: 16 mm film
  • Credit line: © the artist. Image courtesy of the artist and LUX, London
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC8/2019

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