Shirin Fahimi | Aurora, Ontario

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's 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, method of divination called Ilm-al-Raml, known as geomancy. In 2018 she began performing as “Umm al Raml,” Mother of Sand, a female divinator, with her collaborator Morehshin Allahyari in “Breaching Towards Other Futures.” This persona evolved into a digital avatar through a 3D scan of her body during her stay at Banff Centre in 2019. 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 also presented her work at critically recognized art venues such as Art Gallery of Guelph, articule artist run centre, La Centrale, Savvy Contemporary, Counter Pulse, and The Rubin Museum of Art.

Shirin in her studio at Banff Centre working with projections and VR

Shirin Fahimi, Banff Centre Studio, testing VR for "Umm al Raml’s Sand Narratives" project. Photograph by Rita Taylor.

"For the purpose of my current project, “Umm al Raml’s Sand Narratives,” I approached four Iranian women living in the diaspora in Toronto who follow the path of mysticism and spiritualism. I got to know these women through my mother. She started going to mysticism classes once she immigrated to Canada in 2012. In this work, alongside my attempt to speculate about the figure of female prophecy I also seek to portrait the contemporary women in the path of mysticism and spiritualism by archiving their stories digitally. These women will become the main narrator and interpreter of symbols in the divination in a quest for reimagining female prophecy, while their persona shifts between being the female divinator Umm al Raml and being themselves, narrating their journey to spiritualism."

Shirin Fahimi

A series of objects arranged on a table in Shirin's studio at Banff Centre.

Shirin Fahimi, testing silicon with sand and fabric and Umm al Raml’s mask with plexiglass. Photograph by Rita Taylor.

Digital artwork by Shirin exhibited on a vertical screen

Shirin Fahimi, "An Interview with Avaz-e-Eshgh." Photograph by Rita Taylor.

See more on Shirin Fahimi's website and Instagram.

Shirin Fahimi's residency was generously supported by the Jarislowsky Foundation. The VR headset was supported by the Ontario Arts Council. Shirin would also like to acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.