Good Job, Whatshertits (Negar Farajiani)
by Jen Graves
on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 10:01 AM
Courtesy the artist and M.I.A. Gallery
Iranian artist Negar Farajiani's exhibition Mix and Unmatch at M.I.A. Gallery (through tomorrow) is one giant puzzle.
Each piece is a puzzle in itself (as above). Each of these individual puzzles is part of the larger whole puzzle of the exhibition. Farajiani starts by composing photographs. Some are staged self-portraits for which she applies elaborate schemes of face paint. The rest of the photographs are of simple objects lying around the house—knickknacks, fabric patterns, maps, her son's toys.
The artist then prints the photographs on thick paper, and machine-cuts each one into the same pattern of puzzle pieces so they are all alike. She breaks the puzzles down into their pieces and begins combining and recombining the pieces to create mixed images. What hangs on the gallery wall, finally, is every piece of the original set, but remixed, scrambled into new individual puzzle-collages.
The mind tries to restore order to the originals by picking out parts and re-matching them while simultaneously reading the new collages for symbols. Judging from the titles (Witness, The Accuser, The Executioner), a trial is to be underway. We don't know the crime. The portraits are bright and playful on the surface, reminiscent of Persian patterning, but by definition, they're hiding things and keeping their own company, too.