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Shirin Neshat is a world renowned visual artist. Neshat explores the paradox of being an artist in exile: a voice for her people, but unable to go home. In her work, she explores Iran pre- and post-Islamic Revolution, tracing political and societal change through powerful images of women.
I first came in contact with her brilliant creativity many years ago during an art exhibition at the Asia Society in New York City.
Her use of film and imagery to convey a powerful story is absolutely breathtaking.
In Turbulent, Neshats 1998 two-screen video installation, two singers (Shoja Azari playing the role of the male and Iranian Vocalist and composer Sussan Deyhim as the female) create a powerful musical metaphor for the complexity of gender roles and cultural power within the framework of ancient Persian music and poetry.
Enjoy this TED Talk. Here’s an excerpt:
“My journey as an artist started from a very, very personal place. I did not start to make social commentary about my country. The first one that you see in front of you is actually when I first returned to Iran after being separated for a good 12 years. It was after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. While I was absent from Iran, the Islamic Revolution had descended on Iran and had entirely transformed the country from Persian to the Islamic culture. I came mainly to be reunited with my family and to reconnect in a way that I found my place in the society. But instead, I found a country that was totally ideological and that I didn’t recognize anymore. More so, I became very interested, as I was facing my own personal dilemmas and questions, I became immersed in the study of the Islamic Revolution — how, indeed, it had incredibly transformed the lives of Iranian women. I found the subject of Iranian women immensely interesting, in the way the women of Iran, historically, seemed to embody the political transformation. So in a way, by studying a woman, you can read the structure and the ideology of the country.”
Here are two interesting interviews with the artist: