Mehran Mafi Bordbar, Melika Hashemi, Iman Lahroussi Dot by dot like a baby gazelle
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 Indigeneity, colonialism, gender, diaspora, and the future—especially futures which demand the rejection of binaries, static histories, and cultural erasure. Using various formats, from the photo-essay to experimental photography, photojournalist Mehran Mafi Bordbar, multidisciplinary artist Mélika Hashemi, and archivist Iman Lahroussi look to tattooing as a practice of storytelling that captures both what changes over time and what endures, and the many transformations along the way. With its installation evoking the setting of a tattoo parlour, the exhibition presents a non-exhaustive, open-ended archive documenting tattoo practices of Iran, the Maghreb, and their diasporas.
Curated by Mitra Fakhrashrafi