Fractal Futures at Olly Olly
This review was originally published for The Rib.
A suspicious lack of foliage, amongst a variety of branches and twigs, becomes apparent as one enters the gallery space at Olly Olly. With stems suspended from the ceiling, attached to the walls, and planted in miniature clay pots, the life cycle of nature is held in limbo. Are they dormant, about to spring new life? Or are they nearing their end? On view at Olly Olly, Fractal Futures, a solo exhibition by DMV-based Iranian-American artist Mojdeh Rezaeipour, is, as she notes, “an archaeological search for wholeness and belonging.”
The use of leaves, soil, branches, and beeswax, amongst other materials, is not unusual for Rezaeipour, whose practice is deeply rooted in nature, spirituality, and the life cycles of construction and deconstruction. The artist’s work mimics, in many ways, the rhythm of the world around us. Most interestingly, Rezaeipour is invested in a deeply layered symbology and system of signification. Installed as triptychs, four sets of wood-carved heptagons are intentionally filled with natural materials - soil, twigs, fern leaves, portions of beehives, snakeskin, and a seashell. As far back as Ancient Egypt, religions have relied on the number three as a sign of equilibrium. The number four is a symbol of the terrestrial world (earth, wind, fire, air). Added together, the number seven finds its place between a position of life and death, completing the cycle of life, a theme that Rezaeipour is indebted to as she seeks a completeness.
Fern leaves, which for those who follow numerology is associated with the number seven, are thought to bring about a life of happiness and bounty. Perhaps utilized in the same way as the four-leaf clover, the placement of the fern leaf throughout the exhibition alludes to our collective want for wholeness. The inclusion of beehives illustrates the long constitutive relationship between humans and bees, alluding to our inextricable, and at this moment perilous, tie to the earth.
The notion of a “fractal,” which in geometry is a naturally occuring, never-ending pattern (think of a snowflake), and its companion the “future,” signifies that the future is both hypothetically never-ending and never fully knowable. Rezaeipour does not obfuscate her dual identity as an Iranian-American, she rightfully embraces and celebrates it. Nor does she hide from the journey of healing, of imagining a future that provides space for individual and collective healing. Fractal Futures envisions the integral role of nature in our collective growth and change.
Fractal Futures is on view May 12 - June 23, 2018.
Founded in 2014 by Jessica Kallista, Olly Olly is a call for local artists to come out from their hiding places to make and show their art in a nurturing, creative, alternative art space. Olly Olly is also a call to the community to come out, support, and benefit from an art scene that helps our community prosper and helps to provide an authentic, art filled environment. Olly Olly promotes collaboration rather than competition and provides artist and writer studios, an incubator space, as well as a gallery, open studio, and VIP event space for the community.
10417 Main St., 2nd Floor
Fairfax, VA 22030