Born in London in 1969, Faisal Abdu’Allah is a British artist whose work primarily evolves from the interface of photography, the printed image and lens-based installation. He constantly repositions values and ideologies pertaining to representation. Abdu’Allah is a senior lecturer in Fine Art at the University of East London. He lives and maintains a studio in London.
– Artist’s website
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Released in 1988, N.W.A’s anthem, “Fuck Tha Police” articulated the raw rage felt by so many young African American men at the widespread, and often indiscriminate racial profiling in urban centers, specifically in Los Angeles at that time. […]The song, controversial upon its release, was prophetic of Ice Cube’s depiction of the relationship between the police and an increasingly disenfranchised black male community. In 1991, several L.A.P.D. officers were captured on videotape brutally beating Rodney King. As shocking and disturbing as the incident was however, it was not an isolated occurrence. As a permanent memorial to the nameless victims of police violence and racism, Faisal Abdu’Allah’s Fuck Da Police is a physical manifestation of, and his personal response to, the political and social consciousness that inspired N.W.A.
The work consists of an aluminum sheet featuring a solitary, hooded figure. Lit from behind by an ethereal ray of sunlight, this figure is darkly sinister and seems oppressively burdened. The viewer can sense the subject’s gaze piercingly returning theirs although his face remains ominously shrouded in shadow. Two large structures stretch out on either side of him like wings and enhance his otherworldly appearance. Photographed from a lower angle, the subject looms heroically over both the structures and the viewer. The combination of the threatening stance and the supernatural aura imbues the figure with a sense of purpose. Nonetheless, the viewer is left to question provocatively whether the figure’s mission is one of retribution or deliverance?
From a distance one can vaguely observe lines of text that. This text draws the viewer in, creating a source of curiosity that seeks to override the apprehension felt in regarding the figure. Only on close inspection can one read the text that consists of three words that repeat ceaselessly around the cube. Etched 2mm deep into the aluminum and the image laid upon it, the words “fuck da police” deface its otherwise smooth surface with their explicit message. Thus rendered, the incised aluminum evokes a connection to guns and bullets, both of which are inscribed with unique serial numbers by their makers.
Whilst the layering of text on image on aluminum is a powerful evocation in its own right, the most poignant component of this work is its laborious repetition of texts and forms. If the viewer seeks to escape its message or a break in the pattern, the surface is unified doubly, preventing any escape from the concept or its form. The emotional conviction and message behind the work are infinitely re-inscribed, thereby reinforced and re-empowered. The lines of text reverberate into the mind of the viewer, bringing metaphorically the figure upon whom they are inscribed to life as in the words of Ice Cube, “A young nigga on a warpath/ And when I’m finished, it’s gonna be a bloodbath/ Of cops, dyin in L.A/ Yo Dre, I got somethin to say/ Fuck the police.”
– Rachel Newman in “The Art of Dislocation,” pp. 20-21; OrbisAfrica Graphic Writing Systems lab and the Stanford Department of Art and Art History, CA, 2010