Imaging the Moon, 2020

Contemporary Iranian Art & the Historical Imagination
UMass Dartmouth, MA, 2020

An exhibition of contemporary Iranian artists reflecting on Iran’s history, politics, and cultural heritage

The inspiration and foundation for Imaging the Moon series stem from two extended visits to the British Library (London, UK) and the Chester Beatty (Dublin, Ireland) undertaken by Karimi in 2018-2019 to study a selection of Persian astronomy manuscripts. The manuscripts in the custodianship of these institutions reveal intricate drawings and explanations about the Moon and stars from a bygone era. In Imaging the Moon, she has appropriated diagrams and images from the medieval archival materials that include the Kitab al-Tafhim by Biruni, Suwar al-kawākib by al-Sufi and Ajayeb al-makhlūqāt by Qazvini.

Karimi has designed her plates as layered compositions of imagery. One layer reveals iconic scientific illustrations found in those early Persian scientists’ manuscripts; another presents her own interpretation and re-creation of astronomical diagrams, most importantly of the Moon. By combining the original, historical images with her own, in Imaging the Moon Karimi aims to create imaginary astronomical pages – a blend of the whimsical and archival. This layering process is her way of preserving these early works of astronomy and opens a door to consulting and collaborating with scientists who are long-gone, and their historical documents.


British Library, London, UK and Chester Beatty, Dublin, Ireland, 2018 and 2019