Aperture Foundation and the Photography Program at the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design are pleased to present a lecture with artist Shirin Neshat, the Iranian born and New York-based photographer, filmmaker, and video artist, whose controversial work has received international acclaim for its exploration of the complex socio-political discourse surrounding the female experience in Iranian society.
Born in Qazvin, Iran before immigrating to the United States in 1974, Neshat has been called “artist of the decade” by G. Roger Denson of the Huffington Post “[because her work is] chronically relevant to an increasingly global culture,” exploring our “convergence and collision of values.” Often through the use of multi-channel video and sound installations, her exacting iconography turns to historical and contemporary sources to create technically beautiful and richly provocative portraits, often addressing the deep-rooted resilience and determination of women in Muslim societies.
Beginning in the nineties with the provocative portrait series Women of Allah (1993-1997)—“the stark photographs of Iranian women in chadors, some brandishing guns, others with skin covered by Persian script that few people outside Iran can read”— Neshat’s artistic practice has focused on the myriad dualities inherent in Iranian gender structures. She explains in an interview with Studio Banana, that the interrogation of such dualities is inherent to her work, both in the content and form.
Neshat’s 1998 Turbulent utilizes two opposing projections, two singers (one male, one female) to create a striking visual and audible metaphor for the complexity of gender and social power within the framework of ancient Persian music and poetry. Necessary viewing.
In conversation with Heyoka Magazine, Neshat remarks, that in order to properly analyze her body of work, a viewer must always consider both its personal and social context that always run parallel:
“My themes always seem to develop as a personal inquiry toward certain issues that I am faced with as an individual; for example my resentment and questions toward political powers or events such as the Islamic revolution (1979) that has determined the course of my life and so many other Iranians’. Consequently this path naturally has pulled me toward a larger cultural investigation.”
›› Released in 2009, Neshat’s feature-film debut, Women Without Men, is an “exquisitely crafted view of Iran in 1953, when a British- and American-backed coup removed the democratically elected government.”