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Mina Zarfsaz
Dead Ringer
December 1, 2017–January 21, 2018
The Conference of the Birds, Folio from an illustrated manuscript, Author: Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220), Artist: Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610), Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
The Conference of the Birds, Folio from an illustrated manuscript, Author: Farid al-Din `Attar (ca. 1142–1220), Artist: Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610), Ink, opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper

To mirror something is to provide an accurate image or a re-presentation that faithfully copies what is being mirrored. Dead Ringer iterates the re-creation of the mirror space; it reconstructs what seems to be a reflection, but deliberately confounds the viewer by the elements that don’t necessarily reflect.  At first glance objects seem to be in identical arrangements that repeat in a mirror-like space, but upon close inspection one realizes there is a gap between their presuppositions and the reality the work offers their senses.

This installation also speculates and re-speculates the reality of sound and sound-reflection by emphasizing the experiential conditions of mirroring and the differences that emerge in repetition. The audio tracks are excerpts of text from Gertrude Stein’s “The Making of Americans” where Stein employs a limited vocabulary and relies heavily on the technique of repetition as a sensemaking mechanism.

The piece also taps into the artist’s inspiration by Attar of Nishapur’s “The Conference of the Birds,” a celebrated literary masterpiece of Persian literature in which Attar in some ways assures that the individual self is but an illusion, and all truth resides in self-annihilation.

Dead Ringer creates a space for tuning one’s eyes and ears to the repetitions of elements that bring one in contact with the world through sensorial probing where seeing is more like touching than depicting. And, like touch, hearing is a form of visual perception.

Mina Zarfsaz is an interdisciplinary artist, designer and system thinker who works across the fields of art, philosophy, architecture, and design. Her work seeks to invert common tools and social control to create dialogue, exchange critical perspective, generate questions and ideally inspire a better understanding of what we perceive as reality and its representations.

Zarfsaz’ work explores the nature of perception and the organization of the everyday in the world around us. Her work is part of a larger set of challenges to two ideas: we consider our bodies separate from our environment, and that our perception happens in our heads without requiring an enactive approach to the environment.

In her procedural installations, the walking body is conditioned by the architecture where the body often gets involved in a series of imaging-along— walking around, bending, and situating in order to assemble or dismantle an expectation—that reconstitutes new perceptions, and thereby reinscribes new realities.

Zarfsaz has attended Pratt Institute’s MFA ComD program and received her MFA from Montclair State University in Studio Arts. She holds a BFA from State University of New York, a BA in Business Administration from University of Alzahra and an Interior Design Certificate from Tehran University. Zarfsaz currently lives and works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and holds teaching appointments at Temple University, and Rowan University.

Zarfsaz regularly works as a lecturer and workshop leader; her work has been shown in galleries internationally: Magnan Metz Gallery (NYC), Broadway Gallery (NYC), Times Square Museum (NYC), New York State Museum (Albany, NY) and Azad Gallery (Tehran, Iran) to name a few. Her work is also featured in Artslant, NY Arts Magazine. In 2016, Zarfsaz joined the art collective Vox Populi in Philadelphia as a member and board of directors’ member representative. At Vox she focuses on curatorial and publications programming. She has been granted residencies at Vermont Studio Center and most recently at Icebox Project Space.