Permutations of Three

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In “Permutations of Three,” construction materials such as concrete and stone are used to nurture the grass that lays on top of the perfectly measured cubes. Do to exact measurements, the sod is able to sustain it self, absorbing water through the concrete blocks.

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Scroll bellow for a Review by Dr.  Jeanne S. M. Willette “PERFORMING HYBRIDITY”

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Review by Dr.   Jeanne S. M. Willette:

“PERFORMING HYBRIDITY:”

THE IN-BETWEEN ART OF MARJAN K. VAYGHAN

“The tragic irony of the Twenty-First Century is that, although we live in a global society, the reaction to transnationalism has been a renewed emphasis on difference, with cultures closing in protectively and walling themselves off against anything Other.  Artists of the late Twentieth Century, such as Mona Hartoum and Shirin Neshat, based their art production on their cultural roles as women within an Arab society, asserting difference and conflating it with cultural distinction.  But younger artists, such as Marjan Vayghan reject this outmoded Modernist polarization between East and West, between Orient and Occident, between male and female.  “I have spent my life resisting reductive labels imposed on me (Iranian, American, female, biracial, Other), yet they nevertheless…define how the world sees me.”  She is a hybrid product of multiple cultures, double-coding her Iranian/American lives, and this inescapable hybridity defies the hierarchies inherent in opposites.

{Vayghan’s hybridity of equality is illustrated in one of her earlier works, “Permutations of Three” in which grass grows improbably on nine concrete blocks, leaching water out of the solid cement.  Hybridity is everywhere in this open air installation: nature and culture coming together to nourish each other in terms of the number three—a hybrid number par excellence that cannot be divided into halves.}

Part of a Post-Theory generation, Vayghan works the in-between spaces of art and culture, somewhere between one and three but not two, because two can be divided.  Her work is luminal, always hovering on the edge of alterity and always resisting Otherness, refusing to cross that threshold.  Her luminal operations are to be experienced by the viewer, for her installations demand more than mere sight.  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.”

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Numerological elements of this work and the circular pattern in which the cubes were arranged can also be seen in a Performative piece entitled “Prayer Rugs.” I didn’t recognize the similarities in these works, until an aha moment, four years later. When I was creating a series of Artist books on the different projects within my creative practice:

“Prayer Rugs,” Imam Zadeh Saleh, Summer of 2002

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