Saturday, November 5, 2022
11:00 AM
Shirin Fahimi
Umm-al-Raml’s Sand narratives
London Performance StudiosLondon
“One of the challenges of studying gender and Sufism (or any religious tradition for that matter) is locating non-heteronormative voices amidst a tradition that has been penned by male teachers, scholars, leaders, and writers.” (M. Shobhana Xavier)
In Umm-al-Raml’s Sand narratives, on January 28, 2021, full moon, I cast the Ilm al Raml (geomancy) as a method of navigation regarding the lost figure of female prophets. I asked, "Where are the female prophets?" I draw dots and follow their paths. I decided to interpret the symbols collaboratively with women practicing mysticism in my community.
In this project, I take Ilm al Raml divination, in and of itself, as a form of archiving; storing knowledge, making accessible visible and invisible worlds, documenting the past, present and future. I have been collecting interviews with those who practice mysticism, most of whom are Iranian women now living in and around Toronto. This research is its own living archive, holding the stories, dreams and prophecies of interviewees. Returning to the question of “where are the female prophets”, these conversations become more than collecting data—retelling history with figures of women who have power in mysticism.
Shirin Fahimi is a digital media artist based in Ontario, born in Iran. She investigates the colonial dichotomies of rationalism and superstition, as well as the ways in which women negotiate visibility in the political arena in Islamic societies through digital world-making. Her research is influenced by Islamic mysticism literature and magic in Iranian society and diasporic communities.
Since 2016, she has developed her practice into a body of works, multi-media installations, performances, and extended reality series’ based on the Islamic binary code, a method of divination called Ilm-al-Raml, known as geomancy. In her ongoing project, “Umm al Raml’s Sand Narratives,” she juxtaposes the spiritual journey of Iranian women practicing mysticism in Toronto with a digital landscape generated through divination that imagines the future of female prophecy. She has presented her work at critically recognized art venues including Savvy Contemporary, Counter Pulse, and The Rubin Museum of Art.

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