Words: Luke Létourneau
Eddie Abd uses art as the language to make sense of the world in which she lives. She is especially interested in exploring what it means to be a diasporic artist, which she does through still and moving digital portraits that often capture figures creating heightened performances of identity.
I first met Abd in 2019 through Everyday Madonna, an exhibition curated by Casula Powerhouse’s Jenny Cheeseman, which explored the figure of the mother in contemporary practise as authored by artists who are themselves mothers. Abd’s work, titled We Are Holy, reflected on the Madonna image presented to her in her childhood in Lebanon and subverted its gendered, religious and cultural ideals through a depiction of her own home life. Abd, her husband and her two children were all represented across a series of digital collages capturing a naturalised sleepy home life – kids drawing, dad cooking, mum taking a breather – but the images were also embellished to heighten their cultural signifiers and to make new icons of themselves. This was a captivating introduction to her art practice as it captures so many of the aesthetic and conceptual pillars of her oeuvre: embellished depictions of everyday life as a person living in diaspora, while also revealing a playful side – the works featuring markings by her children.
Abd places great emphasis on moving image portraits in the tableaux vivants tradition. She has been featured in exhibitions at Sydney’s Firstdraft and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, and has participated in Artspace’s online commissioning platform 52 Actions. At the 66th Blake Prize, 2021, she was awarded the Emerging Artist Prize for In Their Finest, another work featuring her family which explored the attempt to conserve traditions by families uprooted from ancestral lands. In 2022, she will be exhibited as a finalist in the NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship, cementing her as a significant emerging voice.
Abd continues to push her practice through a further exploration of the histories and techniques of the textiles of Greater Syria. This research will allow her to access new insights into the interrelationships of cultural identities and explore how these are performed.
Featured image above: Eddie Abd and Ludwig El Haddad, In Its Shadow, 2021. Still, one channel video, 2min 58 sec. Courtesy: the artist.
Featured image below: Eddie Abd, Your Da Bomb, 2021. Digital colour print, 48 x 34 x 2.5cm. Courtesy: the artist.
This article was originally published in Art Collector issue 99, January-March 2022.