HAFT PAYKAR | SEVEN BEAUTIES
Haft Paykar | Seven Beauties is a group exhibition that revives, explores, and shares an ancient Iranian text through an exercise in Stuart Hall’s concept of encoding/decoding as a means of meaning-making. This cultural theory fosters the idea that the meaning of any text is never fixed or transparent, rather shaped by a number of contributing factors by both the producer, who encodes a text with meaning, and the recipient, who decodes it. Interpretation is further shaped by distribution, personal experience, social circumstance, and other contextual contributors to meaning and understanding, including space and time.
The curators selected a medieval poem as the point of departure for participating artists and audiences to produce meaning. Haft Paykar, which translates as Seven Beauties, was written by the Iranian poet Nizami Ganjavi, better known as Nizami, in 1197. It incorporates themes of exploitation, ambiguity, beauty, symbolism, multiculturalism, and self-actualization through various literary devices, including non-linearity and epic storytelling. A key component to the text is the assemblage of the seven beauties, seven brides who are summoned by the story’s protagonist, a heroic prince. Each beauty originates from a different region of the world and is represented by a different color, day of the week, and planet, which correspond to her mood and give shape to the cryptic story and moral tale she shares with the prince.
Seven female artists will be selected for this exhibition from the seven regions, or ‘climes’, represented in the poem: India, China, Khwarazm (Uzbekistan, Russia), Siqlab (Slavonia, Croatia, Serbia), the Magreb (North Africa), Rum (Byzantium, Greece, Turkey), and Persia. In the poem, each region and ‘beauty’ and her tale corresponds to a color, planet, and day of the week. These details serve as source material for each participating artist as a prompt for a new work that decodes/encodes meaning. In turn, audiences are presented with selections from the original text to practice decoding and to inform their understanding of the artists’ interpretations. The idea is to illustrate the significance of this cultural theory, which suits our present practices of non-linear storytelling and the sharing and spreading of information and ideas, informed by disparate creators and recipients around the world, as well as to encourage open and challenge interpretations of cultural values and understanding of concepts such as beauty, heroism, nationality, gender, and knowledge. Lastly, rather than replace an ancient text, the aim of this exhibition is to introduce, advance, and extend its cultural impact and magnitude.
Opens May 17, 2019 at Mohsen Gallery, Tehran
March 5–27, 2015
Made in NY Media Center by IFP
30 John Street | Brooklyn, New York, 11201
Images (L to R): Dana Miller, A Theory of All Things #2455 (2012); Kimberly Witham, Still Life with Watermelon and Chipmunk (2011); Caryn Cline, still from Left Side, Riverside (2011); Erica Magrey, screenshot from Face, Porthole, Window, Glovebox (2013)
With the ability to extend sight, memory, and interaction, our media tools foster a naturally synthetic hub through which nature and experience are visualized, made accessible, and become normalized, achieving something that feels naturally synthetic.
The artists selected for this group show make subtle use of their chosen medium to capture and construct synthetic environments that serve to analyze or question things like humanity, what it means to be alive, and under what conditions can fantasy and reality become enmeshed.
THE LOUNGE curated with Caterina Mallone | May 12–26, 2010 | NoCommercialValue.org
Featuring work by Amy Casey, Greg Fenton, Brian Knauer, Erica Magrey, Hollis B. Thornton, and Ann Toebbe.
SHARED SPACES | April 22-28, 2009 | NoCommercialValue.org
Featuring work by Blu, Burak Arikan, Char Davies, Erin Gleeson, Melissa Grey, and Yasmine Soiffer.
IMPERMANENCE curated with Caterina Mallone & Tanisha Christie | Sept. 27, 2008 | La Lutta Project Space
RECLAIM: THE VISUAL SPACE IN BETWEEN curated with Caterina Mallone | July 19, 2008 | Supreme Trading
2016–present: Editorial board of Dialogue: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Popular Culture and Pedagogy
2016: Researcher in Residence, Signal Culture, Owego, NY
2015: SVA Art in the First Person Series: The Vanishing Points of Treece, a lecture and conversation about my book Vanishing Points with photographer Dina Kantor.
2014–2017: Computer Culture Area Chair, Southwest Popular/American Culture annual conference.
2014: Professional participant, Tisch School of the Arts Annual Film and TV Meet and Greet.
2012–present: Member, New Media Caucus
2010: Honorary Member for Excellence in Teaching, Alpha Lambda Delta First-Year Honor Society, Ramapo College of NJ.