Overhead – by Elijah El Kahale

You know when you’re tucked in bed, and you’re processing all of your thoughts before you nod off, only to be met by one particular thought, and you’re no longer able to sleep? Your eyes are heavy, but your mind and heart are racing. With this incredible mind of ours, we rehearse possible future scenarios, or just replay the past. And we love to do this so much, even when we hate it. As for these images, I wanted to convey what it must be like to be inside someone’s brain, but using a different kind of scanner—an old overhead projector, where I would perform a different way to create a photogram, and all I would do then is photograph the results that came onto the wall and take it through further processing. I used old negatives that I would cut up and organise in a particular way that demonstrates the recollection of fragments. I used the thickness of the acrylic paint and the thinness of water to project colours in abstract shapes. Patterns that I don’t fully control. And I would also watch the paint dry from the heat of the projector, and it reminded me of mountains, it felt like looking at a weather radar.

For me, I take those memories and construct by destroying them. Sometimes for fun, sometimes out of a sheer, intense emotion. And I deconstruct like this—scissors, paint, projector—so I don’t have to ever romanticise or catastrophise, nor do I need to ever be nostalgic about a given memory again.

After all, learning yourself is the most painful thing, and in 2020 when a pandemic stopped the world, and we lost so much of what keeps us and the world alive, we took what we did every night before we fell asleep, and practiced this non-stop. Right now we are so awake as a planet, more than ever before in history, but at the cost of being deprived of not just something as healthy as resting, but of dreaming. It is one of the most vital things, and this is how I want to encourage dreaming. I can’t change what happened before the camera, but I can change what happens to the memory. Unlike the camera, painting is true perception.

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Raised in a Lebanese Christian family, Elijah diverted from traditions and finds solace in exploring art, fashion, music, film, culture, and philosophy. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

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