Solo exhibition, presented at articule artist run center, from March 25th, 2022 to April 23rd, 2022, Montreal, Canada.
Photo documentation by: Guy L'Heureux.
In this speculative fiction project, “Umm al Raml’s Sand Narratives,” I render visible the absence of female prophets within Islamic literature, and the challenges of representing them. This work 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. By reviving the 7th-century Islamic method of divination, the science of sand, this project builds on narrative possibilities generated through divination. It decolonizes the linear narration of time by blurring the line between present, past and future. The viewers are invited to immerse themselves in the digital landscape through the virtual reality headset. They interact with the symbols and 3D objects to unfold the narration while exploring the digital world.
This project has come together with the generous support from Canada Council for the Arts and Ontario Arts Council.
by Célia Mourey
The exhibition focuses on artist Shirin Fahimi’s ongoing exploration of the sand divination method, Ilm al Raml or geomancy.
By creating new narratives that challenge Western views, Shirin Fahimi opposes the categorization of female divinatory practices as superstitions, placed in opposition to male-dominated science and scientific rationality.
The artist’s use of new technologies (videos, virtual reality…) sheds new light on this ancestral practice, inviting us to reconsider it from an evolutionary perspective.
The exhibition is thought through as a ritual, with multiple stages guiding us deeper into the artist’s world. An entrance hall covered with sands, vital matters for Umm al Raml, welcomes the public, accompanied by imposing digital portraits of four Iranian women friends of the artist, each practicing mysticism in Toronto. Each portrait is surrounded by items that are personally and culturally significant and symbolic to each subject. The audience is then invited to share a moment in confidence with each through human-sized TVs broadcasting interviews exploring their spiritual journey. These four women prophets, each symbolizing the first four elements of divination (fire, earth, air and water), are both the physical and spiritual getaways for the audience.
At the center of the exhibition, a green arch marks the entrance to another reality. Blurring the boundaries with performance, Shirin makes the public an actor through virtual reality. Everyone is invited to explore the digital landscape and the symbols it harbors. These new narratives born of divination switches familiar codes-structures. Time is interpreted through matters and past, present and future lose their linearity to present themselves circularly.
At the end of the exhibition, deliberately saturated with cultural and spiritual symbols, the public takes home with them this experience that will continue to evolve, long after the end of the visit.