b'Tannaz FarsiGrasping the UngraspableNicole Smythe-JohnsonWhen approaching Tannaz Farsis work, one is tempted to look for meaning. She often uses text and quotidian objects, suggesting familiarity and inviting reading, but upon closer inspec-tion one finds the work quite deliberately thwarts that inquiry. Her practice draws on the specificity of her life and Iranian heritage to produce objects that are so loaded with meaning that they slip into ambiguity, challenging our desire to quickly and accurately assess truth. Farsi addresses images and objects that occupy the realm of the symbolic and the linguistic to probe the way in which meaning is accrued, translated, manipulated, and communicated.Farsis multipart, wall-based installation Strata of Empire (2016ongoing) embodies this impulse. Inspired by Gabriel Orozcos Working Tables, the installation functions not as a complete statement but as a snapshot of a process. It presents a collection of visual and con-ceptual elements that animate Farsis overall practice. Some, like the tulips in Golha (2019), or the syllabary that Farsi herself developed in Script (2016), feature in earlier work. Others, like the rock Farsi took from the ancient Iranian city of Persepolis, captured in Vestige I and II (both 2016), and the pile of rugs in Hover (2016), have been taking space in Farsis studio or rattling around in her mind, their final place or configuration ongoing and variable.What can we glean then from Strata of Empire? A primary concern of this work is the way in which the day-to-day objects of our own lives can become artifacts that speak to much broader narratives. In Vestige II, the artist has wrapped the shirt her mother was wearing when she and her family moved from Iran to the United States around a photograph of a Persepolis ruin, layering personal history with the grand swaths of political history. Similarly, in Liberty (2016), an image of a necklace the artist wore for years bearing a British gold coin given to her by a relative in Iran is cropped so that the word liberty is highlighted. Ironic, given Britains imperial activity in Iran.In this work Farsi is also interested in how narratives are mediated. Her presentation of these symbols of historywhether writ large across centuries or in the quotidian details of a single 34'