The code-switch is my way of refusing the role of journalist. I don’t write long-reads and have no desire to demystify my identity. I’m not an ethnographer, I prefer to respect complexity and just let certain things be.
By the time I was a teenager, I had lost both of my parents and that's when I started to develop a strong sense of interiority, through remembering the rituals of my late mother. One vivid example is how she would stuff dates with walnuts and feta, and then give them to me as sacred offerings. Looking back now, it would be easy to dismiss those subtle acts of faith, and yet I choose to relate to them as small codes embedded in gustatory aesthetics, which are less about conviction and more about love. To quote literary theorist Terry Eagleton, "being brought up in a culture is a matter of learning appropriate forms of feeling as much as particular ways of thinking."
In today’s society, love is replaced with likes and the archival impulse of photography helps one to navigate this feeling of existing between multiple imaginal realities. With this in mind, faith becomes more about trying to connect with something more abstract, that can go beyond the ever-changing stream of pictorial miasma - a sense of swimming in the face of flux. A way of learning how to feel around concepts that are archived within the rituals of content creation. Like trying to build an internal sense of community with all of the imaginal alter-egos and avatars in your head; making connections between mixtures of realities and then having the faith to not let the picture make sense. Culture used to do a lot of this kind of work for us, but now there is no such ‘Culture’ to speak of - as in, one that is capable of such cosmic heavy lifting, and that’s why we have influencers and creative agencies, the middle-people between the pursuit-for-nirvana and the masses - the new code shamans who have resurrected Jung’s archetypes.
I was thinking about all the above one morning, whilst opening Instagram for the 75th time that day, to be greeted by an image of my good friend and fellow artist Kazim Rashid mid-pilgrimage, following his ancestral path to the middle of Mecca. I though it’s natural that he reaches for his camera in such a sacred moment, not to document or flex for the ‘gram, but to make an offering.