Not Currently on Display
The ‘Coming to terms’ series of five works, follows another series of ten works titled ‘Siege’ which, in a related but more emotional and reactive way, addressed the idea of ‘siege mentality’ and the artist’s subjective experiences of feeling under attack within a period of growing acceptance of racism and Islamophobia in this country and other Western nations. In the ‘Coming to terms’ series Abdullah has adapted the tropes of traditional wedding photography, seeking to present a gentler, less polarising sentiment than in previous photographic works. The title also contains a word play that might imply the work is also a kind of proxy attempt to draft ‘terms’, fittingly, addressing the artist’s attempt to come to terms with the marginalization he has experienced as a seventh generation Australian born and raised in Perth, Western Australia.
Abdul Abdullah has a detailed knowledge of his family history, including the story of his earliest forebear to reach these shores from England in 1815 after he was convicted of stealing two stamps and a watch chain. His family history in this country goes back well over 200 years, and indeed his birth marks 200 years of his family’s presence in Australia. However Abdul’s mother is a first generation migrant from Malaysia – a Muslim of Indonesian heritage – and Abdullah’s father converted to Islam in 1971. Accordingly Abdullah is brown skinned, his name is distinctively Arabic and he has been raised as a Muslim – and for these distinctions he has frequently stood out as different from the Australian norm.
In recent years Abdul Abdullah presents imagery in which contradictory symbols and identifying traits coexist to draw attention to inconsistent attitudes and to critique instances of mainstream cultural bias. Though Abdul Abdullah trained as a painter, in his use of photography he places value in the medium’s immediacy of engagement and it’s ability to conjure a convincing sense of realism, even when the image is clearly constructed.