Studying Circles

Studying Circles, 2015.

Graphite on wood-free paper. 240 x 300 cm. Graphic Witness exhibition. Courtesy of Drawing Room, 2017. Photography: Lucy Dawkins.

« Studying Circles takes as its starting point a newspaper image of a cigarette vendor who set himself alight in front of the Municipal Theater in Tunis on 12 March 2013. […] Nobody came to the vendor’s aid, even the attendant policeman simply watched as people photographed the event. In the souece photograph, the military and law-keeping officials who surround the dying man appear more concerned with posing for the camera than to offer assistance. To convey the irrational nature of the scene, Chamekh crops the heads of these officials, whilst the head of victim is clearly rendered and takes centre stage. The title Studying Circles evokes a civil order in which reason wins the day, emphasised within the image by the rectangular pavement stones, the metrological sign of the sea and two planets, and even the curve that delineates the ground. This vision of progress is diametrically opposed to the breakdown of society that results from ignoring a fellow human in distress. Like Spero, Chamekh uses symbolism to convert an image of horror into a fiction that reminds us of the cyclical nature of the human condition. » Kate Macfarlane.