Elias participated in a six-month residency between 2013–2014 in which he did a series of works that explored his faith and experiences with migration and refugee camps, specifically those along the Burmese border where he lived and worked as a teenager.
The work was produced with photographs taken over the years and found objects from a demolition site close to the V64 studios. The materials were designed to reflect the weathered corrugated steel homes of Sangkhlaburi where he worked and lived. Broken walls and natural materials were woven together with steel to form baskets and drying racks.
The work was exhibited in three venues across Bangkok in 2014: the V64 Annual Summer Exhibition and open studio, HOF Art Now group exhibition and at El Chiringuito in a Solo Exhibition titled Bismillah (In the name of God).
Until Something Brings Us Back to Reason
V64 Arts, Bangkok (2014)
“At the time I had been working in restaurants for two years back in Philly, prior to returning back to Bangkok. I had just broken up with my partner of three years. I had a lot of people in the countryside of Thailand looking to me for support. Approaching thirty years old, I went back to school for the first time since leaving at fifteen. The different elements of the performance were all these things coming together. I cut onions, referencing art in this context and labour in another. I merged the clothes I used to pray with, the school uniform and floral patterns. I covered myself up in layers of veils, remembering the Hadith proverb “there are seventy thousand veils between heaven and earth.” And I cut my hair to break away from all of it. Returning to Thailand and art and being back in Bangkok was, in a way, starting fresh and finding release. The eggs were about birth. Those frying in the projection were about the transformation of and combination of elements that formed something new. But really it was simple. It was a performance in a gallery about change.”
Emulsification was a performance that interpreted the experience of personal identification and clashes of culture, expectations and faith. Elias handmade his costume from an upcycled university uniform, a floral patterned textile designed to mimic a kurta, and his aunt’s head scarf. Seated on a pedestal and surrounded by an arrangement of onions, Elias began a performance ritual involving the repetitious cutting of onions, backdropped by a projection of eggs being beaten and fried on loop. At the end of the performance, he removed his veils and masks to reveal himself then cut his hair before walking off stage. This performance was part of the event Until Something Brings Us Back to Reason, curated by Pierre Bechon of TARS Gallery Bangkok.