“Rearranged: Selected Works from 1998 to 2014” is a survey show and reinterpretation of the career of Bita Fayyazi, conceived by Rokni and Ramin Haerizadeh.
Rather than regard Fayyazi as a sculptor, installation artist or ceramicist, engaged in some mystic relationship with her materials, “Rearranged” refers to several iconic moments in the artist’s career to describe her performative and markedly social practice.
Beginning in the mid-1990s, Fayyazi‘s artistic interventions challenged the official definitions of art that were often circulated in Tehran at that time. Fayyazi struggled to show her work amid an atmosphere of stuffy traditionalism, academicism, and the influx of ’90s conceptual art from abroad. She entered 2,000 ceramic cockroaches into Tehran’s 6th Biennial of Contemporary Ceramic Art, despite an attempt by several members of the committee to oust her work from the show. She cast and fired terracotta dogs (‘Road Kill’, 1998), modelled on dead dogs found on the highways in Tehran, and then placed her creations onto streets around the city, much to the consternation of onlookers.
These early works – simultaneously performance and installation – are documented in the exhibition with 3-dimensional collages, videos and ceramics created at the time. Yet what these works retain in presence is, primarily, the residual process that they emerged from, as well as the encouraging force that they had on generations of young artists in Tehran.
Each of these works has its roots in a form of participative social sculpture: gathering whatever materials are readily available, Fayyazi also gathers together artists and non-artistically-inclined collaborators who can wrap and entwine, paint and cast. She reconstitutes the energies of a multitude of people toward an uncertain result. The final object becomes, therefore, less important than the process – the collective doing, and the love of doing – that preceded its creation.