Haft Seen

“Haft Seen”

Los Angeles, CA, Winter 2005

In an installation entitled “Haft Seen” (the seven scenes of the Persian New Year table) the gallery floor turns to liquid. Ceramic tiles were installed and built up to create ponds of water filled with fish. Haft Seen consists of seven elements, which start with the Farsi letter Se. Also included on the New Year table is a live fish, a small liminal creature representing rejuvenation and life for the upcoming year. In this piece I was striving to reconcile this ancient Iranian tradition with modern capitalist culture in contemporary IranianAmerican communities.

We used to go out into nature on the first day of spring, find something alive and bring it home to celebrate its existence and survival against the elements. Now, instead of competition for survival, people buy the most unusual exotic fish. We now swim in the greed of capitalism, where once we swam with the elements.



By Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette, 2007.

“…Haft Seen recreates the artist’s concern over the (im) balance between nature and culture.  A cold inhospitable tile floor becomes a water site for fragile fish by an act of subtraction—the removal of some of the tiles. The space opened is not soft, as the Other to hard, but is a betweenness, a both/and—living water hosting vulnerable beings, existing at the mercies of the spectators. Composed of seven elements, another indivisible number, Haft Seen, like Three, is a hybrid work of art, a Postminimalist sculpture that depends upon the performative presences of the artist and her collaborators and the audience.

A post-post modern artist, Marjan Vayghan is a performance artist, an installation artist, a writer, and a go-between, using her art-making strategies, not to divide, but to demonstrate that difference should not mandate separateness.  Vayghan’s engagement with the traditional fine arts is one of repatriation, restoring to art its original purpose—to reach out to the audience, with the hope of bringing people together.  The power and subtlety of her work is the intersection between the artist’s intention, the collaborators who may or may not know that they are part of a performance, and the humanistic and ecumenical statements that unfold with a spontaneous naturalness embedded within that most artificial of actions: art…”

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