In “Ain El Karma”, a song originally written and performed in the early 1900s, poet and singer Aissa Djarmouni connects the act of tattooing to the North African land he wrote of, describing the puncturing of the skin, “[d]ot by dot like a baby gazelle grazing in the plain of the Olive River”. The lasting popularity of this lyric links the once common practice of tattooing to the present; reinvigorating a tradition that, with the criminalizing of nomadic ways of life and the growing stigma associated with the art form, is no longer widely performed in the region.
Dot by dot like a baby gazelle draws on tattoo cultures from across Iran and the Maghreb as an entry point to explore nation-building, gender, diaspora, and the future—especially futures which demand the rejection of binaries, static histories, and cultural erasure. Artists Shirin Fahimi with Morehshin Allahyari, Mélika Hashemi, Iman Lahroussi, and Nazlie Nazgol use performance, geomency, film, installation, and archiving to evoke the ‘traditional’ and the reimagined. The exhibition presents a non-exhaustive, open-ended archive documenting oftentimes relegated practices of Iran, the Maghreb, and their diasporas while inviting viewers to partake in these living traditions.
Accompanying programs: From Mia Khalifa to Bousbir with Nashwa Khan, The Craft of Precarious City Dwellers: A Conversation on the Science of Sand with Shirin Fahimi and Vince Rozario, Pixel by pixel e-lecture performance by Mélika Hashemi and a finissage with Stick & poke raffle.
Presented at La Centrale galerie powerhouse from March 3 - April 7, 2022