The Dept. of Signs and Symbols is pleased to announce the exhibition: Study of an Upturned Ziggurat, Shaqayeq Arabi’s first solo exhibition in New York. The exhibition will feature a site-specific installation made through an intuitive process of assembling urban and organic objects found and collected by the artist. The installation explores notions of transformation, intuition and the intersection of the urban and the natural. Study of an Upturned Ziggurat will be on view from October 3 through October 30, 2015. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, October 3 from 6 – 8 p.m.

Arabi’s site-specific installation is emblematic of her work and her use of found natural and industrial objects. The structure consists of picture frames of various sizes that the artist collected on her first visit to the Dept. of Signs and Symbols. The artist builds upon the frames with tree branches, twigs and nets, assembling and tying the materials together using rope and cloth. The industrial and natural objects, both once essential to the existence of human life, maintain a past narrative while constructing a new continuum. The reference to an ancient ziggurat alludes to the story of the Tower of Bable, mythologized as a rectangular stepped tower. This allusion to mythical history weaves a line between architecture and sculpture, and their monumental essence. Yet the composition grounds the structure in the every day. The ephemerality and delicacy of nature destabilizes the installation creating a contrast to the imagery of the tall, strong, stone tower.

Describing the organic and intuitive nature of her process, Arabi states; “I enjoy journeys with no determined destination. I leave the idea to evolve to find its own shape and form, and the process to refine the concept and I’m part of the evolution.” Her work is specific to the place and site of creation, with each sculpture or installation held together using only the found objects with no additional adhesive holding them in place. In her process of accumulating and assembling the work, Arabi traces her reminiscences, creating a tangible reality out of her more personal sensations and associations. She and the work as a larger entity inform one another; the personal and the material interlock and are created simultaneously. The structure itself, built in situ, casts shadows on the walls, playing and interacting with its surroundings, presenting an interplay between Arabi’s personal past, her memories and findings, and the actuality of the creation of the structure.

Shaqayeq Arabi is a painter, sculptor and installation artist living between Tehran, Dubai and New York City. Starting to paint and practice calligraphy in the early 1990s, she received her Masters in graphic design from Al-Zahra University Tehran, a BAF from University of Valencinnes, France and a MAF from Sorbonne University, Paris. Arabi’s works are fundamentally abstract yet evoke a range of associations. For her, art is a form of spontaneous personal expression, as well as an exploration of her past and present memory. She finds her point of departure in image, sound and smell, as well as the sensitivity of the surrounding environment. Arabi has had exhibitions in the Middle East and Europe.

The Dept. of Signs and Symbols is a laboratory for innovative experimentation and expression. The curatorial program serves to nourish emerging artists, to disinhibit the ordinary and to incite the unexpected. Focused on interaction and visible process, the project space allows for critical exposure for the artists, as well as a fostering of curatorial voices and collaboration. Through this crossing of art and life, a constellation of people, ideas, backgrounds, intentions and dreams form. Open to the public and based within the distinctive neighborhood of Vinegar Hill, The Dept. of Signs and Symbols opened its door to the public in March 2015, with its inaugural exhibition presenting the work of Brooklyn-based artist Daniel Horowitz.

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