Safdar Ahmed is a Sydney based artist, zine-maker, community development practitioner and academic in the field of Islamic studies. His art practice focuses on issues of representation and belonging, with regard to language, religion and culture. He works mostly in the areas of drawing, comics and zine-making and has work published in Overland, Meanjin and The Lifted Brow. His drawings were most recently included in the Telling Tales group exhibition, at the MCA, Sydney. He is the author of the graphic memoir, The Good Son, and the documentary web comic, Villawood: Notes from an immigration detention centre, which won a Walkley Award in the artwork category in 2015. Safdar sings and plays guitar with the death-metal band Hazeen, which he founded with Can Yalcinkaya. He is a member of the boat-people artist collective, most recently included in the 2014 Tarra Warra Biennial.
Safdar is a founding member Refuge Art Project , for which he conducts regular art workshops with asylum seekers and refugees in the Villawood detention centre and at Parramatta in Western Sydney. Through their workshops, exhibitions and self-published zines, Refugee Art Project seeks to facilitate the self-expression of asylum seekers and refugees, activating art in the struggle for social justice in Australia.
Safdar is a member of Underdrawing the Line, which brings together refugee and non-refugee artists to produce collaborative drawings and installations that address issues of race, citizenship and the militarisation of the border. Their work has appeared locally and internationally, most notably at Utopian Pulse: Flares in the Darkroom exhibition in The Secession, Vienna, in 2014.
Safdar obtained his PhD with the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Sydney, which was published under the title Reform and Modernity in Islam (IB Tauris, 2013). He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the National Art School and Certificate IV in Arts Administration.
Image credit: Safdar Ahmed, Crohn’s (2015)