In December 2017, Divecha chanced upon a projectionist’s block calendar diary while the recently decommissioned El Dorado Cinema in Abu Dhabi was being emptied out. While the cinema itself has been the object of a surge of nostalgia—the figure of the projectionist remains invisible. The projectionist’s years of isolation in a dark booth echo with the alienation that haunts migrant workers – their lives contrast so starkly with the conquering protagonists of South Asian Cinema projected on the screen in the darkened hall.
Assembling several sources—real and fictional accounts, excerpts from the calendar diary, interviews—Divecha has scripted a fictional character around the projectionist, whose portrait he struggles to evoke in a series of oil paintings on wood panels and works on paper. Inspired by the colour palettes of South Asian films, the paintings are overlaid with the projectionist’s notes. They conjure questions of vision, isolation, and alienation of labour, while prodding us to examine who and what remain excluded from narratives of remembrance.