This artwork is a collective collaboration with a group of eight women from Farkha*, it consists of nine embroidered portraits of Mohamad Bouazizi – A Tunisian vendor who set himself on fire in December 2010, his act became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring. Each participant embroidered one portrait, the embroideries in terms of colours and size reference Andy Warhol’s silkscreen prints of Marilyn Monroe and other pop stars.
Bouazizi’s image quickly became an icon, a “Pop” star in the Arab world. His performance of self-immolation in public space is juxtaposed in this work with cross-stitching. Exchanging mass production of the image (silkscreen printing) with embroidery as an autonomous performance in private space, an attempt to investigate the creation of the paradoxical “pop” star. The repercussions of the act of self-immolation instigated a new approach to martyrdom and propelled a discussion on religious, political, and social levels.
On the opening night of the exhibition** featuring this work a group of unannounced men walked into the exhibition space and prayed next to the installation of the embroideries. The reason behind using the space for prayer is still unknown, but their performance next to the artwork that was videotaped using a mobile phone added another layer to the work.
35 cm width / 50 cm height
*Farkha: a Palestinian village located in the Salfit Governorate in the northern West Bank.
** YAYA 2012: The Young Artist of the Year Award 2012, exhibition at Franco-German Cultural Center in Ramallah, West Bank.