This photo series is from when I went to the annual Arba'een walk in my home country, Iraq.
The Arba'een Pilgrimage is the world's largest public gathering that is held every year in Karbala, Iraq at the end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious ritual for the commemoration of martyrdom of the grandson of Prophet Mohammad and the third Shia Imam, Husayn ibn Ali's in 680.
During the month of Muharram streets are decorated in remembrance of Imam Hussain and food is given out along the roads to Karbala.
All photo's are taken on 35mm film.
While visiting Dubai in the winter, I saw a lot of (poorly made) designer replicas which I found interesting for a couple of reasons. They made me question why someone would buy those poorly made replicas. But they also had this almost irony in them that I didn't completely understand.
For this project I decided to research this phenomena. I started with doing visual research to define what it was that I found interesting. I collected images, organized them and also tried to apply the different phenomena in 'my own work'. I did this through for instance the logo-filled henna design which I
gave a try at photographing on 35mm film. Next to visual research, theoretical research also was a big part of this project. In doing theoretical research I had found that it was because of how ingrained the branding of these companies are in my head, that these replicas become comical.
Having this in mind, my focus shifted towards religion and consumerism. In my 'final work' I played with the connection between hyper consumerism and religion.
The chanel prayer rug and prayer beads are the first try at generating a conclusion in design form.The chanel beads are handmade from resin and the prayer rug is partly screen printed partly hand painted.
Thinking of a gift for ones own father can be really hard, so I asked him: 'baba, What do you love most?'.
When I posed him this question, he didn't hesitate to name all of his children, grandchildren and own parents.
Using arabic square kufic script, I started to puzzle all the names in our family together. The resulting design was then embroidered on my father's favourite type of pyjama. The embroidery failed as I accidentally had sewn the neck opening shut.
Still, this project remains a deeply personal and valuable one.
CiMENA is a Rotterdam based film platform which screens films from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) in Rotterdam.
CiMENA was started by me and 3 other colleagues in 2018. We have showcased a variety of films from this diverse region, ranging from classic arthouse films to thought provoking documentaries at rotating venues. With these screenings CiMENA showcases the diversity of this region’s art, films and culture, bringing it to a wider audience.
In a time where the MENA region is often portrayed in terms of violence and corrupt politics, CiMENA aims to highlight its humanity. CiMENA also started serving as a social meeting point, or a 'third place' (a place where you relax in public, where you encounter familiar faces and make new acquaintances) mainly for youth from the diaspora.
At CiMENA, I was not only a graphic designer but I was part of the team of co-founders/managers who were constantly working to realize our concept.
In the beginning phase of CiMENA, we wanted to start by just bringing our friends together in Rotterdam to watch MENA films as a kind of 'pilot' event. We found and rented a local community center, made social media channels, created promotion content, got a photographer and bought enough snacks and drinks and invited all our friends. The event was a success, however it was still very simple and more of a draft event.
Since then we have done a lot in order to continue improve the quality of our events such as realizing collaborations and new ways to improve the programme by adding guest speakers and Q&A's.