Shirin Neshat

(1957) American (b. Iran)


Shirin Neshat was born in Iran in 1957 and was studying at the University of California, Berkeley when the Iranian revolution began. In 1990, she returned to a country that had been thoroughly transformed by eleven years of conservative Islamic government and a lengthy war with Iraq. Neshat found that conditions for women were significantly more oppressive, including the requirement that all women cover themselves in robes or chadors. Upon returning to the United States, she embarked upon her Women of Allah series, in which she photographed herself in evocative poses and used Farsi calligraphy to decorate the parts of her body that remained visible from under a chador. These ambiguous images suggest a woman at the crossroads of resurgent Islam, feminism, and gender construction. In the late 1990s Neshat turned to video and film to address issues of Islamic female identity and explore the psychological terrain of sorrow, alienation, loss, reconciliation, and redemption. The photographs in ICP's collection are stills from her film Passage (2001) and her video Tooba (2002). Neshat's first feature film, Women Without Men, won one the top prizes at the 2009 Venice Film Festival.
Neshat's photographs are held in numerous museum collections including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and the Tate Modern.
Mary O'Donnell Hulme
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