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|Neshat at the Viennale 2009|
|School(s)||University of California, Berkeley (BA, MA, MFA)|
|Credit for||Mixed media performance, video installations, photography|
|Cool work||The Shadow under the Web (1997),
Woman without Men (2004)
|Wife/Husband||Kyong Park (divorced)|
Shirin Neshat (in Persian: شیرین نشاط Shirin Neshat), (Qazvín, Iran, March 26, 1957) is one of the most representative artists of contemporary Iranian art, with an important audiovisual production and photographic. Lives in New York, United States. The work of Shirin Neshat is characterized by the treatment of the condition of women, in contemporary Islamic societies.
Shirin Neshat’s Biography
Hailing from an Iranian middle-class family, her father was an important physiotherapist and while her mother was in charge of housework. His childhood was spent in a family that praised the values of Iran’s Shah society. Consistent with this familiar position of admiration for Western values and ideology, Shirin Neshat begins her first studies at a Catholic school in Tehran. In this way, Shirin Neshat takes root in the management of certain Western codes such as her Western-rooted feminism, a fundamental feature of her work. The father of Neshat encouraged in each of his daughters and sons, without distinction, the desire to acquire an acute academic preparation, so that all of them obtained a high university preparation.
In 1974, at age 17, Shirin Neshat travels to the city of Los Angeles to study art. While he was away from his country, the well-known Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979 took place, which resulted in a political restructuring and the establishment of a traditional Islamic society in Iran. Within the family of Neshat, this political situation led to the loss of financial security provided by the father, who had to retire from his work as a doctor after the decline of his benefits and the decrease in salary he received. < / p>
Approximately one year later after the Revolution, Shirin Neshat settled in San Francisco, in the Bay Area of this city. There he enrolled in the Dominican College. Finally, he joined the University of California at Berkeley, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts in 1979, Master of Arts in 1981 and Master of Fine Arts in 1982 (corresponding to different levels of bachelor’s degrees and masters own art training ).
After graduating, he moves to New York and marries Kyong Park, a Korean curator. He had founded and directed the experimental art gallery Storefront for Art and Architecture, a nonprofit organization. Neshat actively joins this organization, whose multidisciplinary nature allowed him to get in touch with a wide diversity of ideologies that enabled him to mature his artistic conception and acquire the necessary experience for his individualization in the artistic framework. artistic works of Shirin Neshat, which were subsequently destroyed by her.
In 1990 Shirin Neshat returns to Iran. According to her own words, the artist noted a great difference between the Iranian culture she experienced during her childhood and early youth and what she found on her return: “I always say that it was a very intense experience becausehad never been in a place where the ideology had so much weight. The Revolution drastically changed all aspects of life in Iran. The Iranfound was on the one hand frightening and on the other very exciting. The country had been so isolated that in a way it seemed that one entered another completely different world. This had certain appeal especially coming from the West, from capitalism and individualism proper to the first world. But when one faced such crucial issues as the absence of human rights and freedom of expression, they wanted to run away. “Fruit of this unique and shocking experience, that of confronting the radical differences between pre and post revolutionary Iran , produces his first relevant work: the series of photographs Unveiling and Women of Allah (1994).
In general, the work of Shirin Neshat focuses on the social, cultural, political, religious and ideological dimensions of the conflicts that women live in contemporary Muslim societies, specifically, those that reside in the Iranian community. From the imaginary that the West has built around the woman of the Middle East and its relationship with Islam, Neshat establishes a novel critical discourse in two senses: against these Western stereotypes; but also about the social and political contexts from which they originate. To demonstrate the conflictual nature of these contexts, Neshat uses the resource of the opposition of opposites that allow him to expose the controversial and binary character of the system in which Muslim women live: this symbolizes the use of black and white, the exterior and the interior of the environments presented, the veiled against the corporately displayed, the properly feminine versus the masculine. In his artistic production, the construction of a self-orientalism takes place from a position of artist of the diaspora, understood as the conscious reproduction, on the part of an individual from the Middle East, of the stereotypes that the West has built around your culture and your subjects.
Women of Allah includes the following works:Am Its Secret (1993), Faceless (1994), Rebellious Silence (1994), Stories of Martyrdom (1994), Allegiance with Wakefulness (1995), Moon Song (1995), Seeking Martyrdom, versions and 2 (1995), Speechless (1996). These are black-and-white, wide-format photographs, where Neshat includes herself, covered by the chador, as indicated by the hijab to the Islamic woman, and the skin of the face, hands or feet, which does not covers the chador, drawn with words in Persian calligraphy. The controversial nature of the series lies in the inclusion of firearms within the idyllic orientalist composition. Thus, the paradigm of the political and social invisibility of women in Islamic societies is transferred to subvert the orientalist scenario, in which the Muslim woman is conceived as a passive entity. Neshat places as the center of his composition the sexed body of the oriental woman (covered by the chador), and to this body he gives word (the spelling) and action (the firearms).
In the mid-1990s, his audiovisual production began, with which he is already established as one of the leading contemporary Iranian artists. Thus, in 1996 he filmed Anchorage, in 1997 Shadow under the Web, in 1998 Turbulent, a video produced by Noire Gallery (Torino), and in 1999 Rapture and Soliloquy. For these last two materials, he obtained the International Prize corresponding to the XLVIII Venice Biennial of 1999. Rapture, a color video produced by the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, had been presented in May 1999 at the Art Institute of Chicago. Both Rapture and Turbulent start from the technique of putting opposite videos on opposite walls. In Rapture, we watched a video of a group of men, dressed in white shirts and black pants, inside a circular fortress that surrounds them; On the front wall, simultaneously a video takes place that presents women with their chadors, walking through the desert. Both groups pray or whisper. To make this video, more than 250 extras were used. For Turbulent, which was filmed in black and white, in a video Iranian singer Sussan Deyhim with his chador appears with his back to an empty auditorium (in reference to the ban on singing in public for women in Iran), while in the video which is opposite to this, appears the singer Shoja Azari, also from behind, but to an auditorium composed of men dressed in black and white who can enjoy the music.
In 2002, he returns to work with Sussan Deyhim in Logic of the Birds, produced by art historian Roselee Goldberg. This film was premiered at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival and then presented at the Walker Art Institute in Minneapolis and Artangel in London.
The short The Last Word (2003) concerns the confrontation between the artistic world and cultural policies within the social regime of both the Shah and the Islamic Republic. It is based on both his personal experience and that of the many Iranian artists who have suffered imprisonment, exile or persecution throughout these years.
In 2006, he obtained the coveted award The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the most lucrative within the artistic media.
In 2009 he directed his first feature film Women Without Men (2009), which won the Silver Lion as best director of the Venice Film Festival. Based on the novel by the same name of Shahrnush Parsipur, banned in Iran, according to the author: “Women Without Men captures the decisive moment in the summer of 1953, when the yearnings of a nation are crushed by foreign powers in a coup tragic that leads to the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Thirty years later, looking back, those young men and women protesting in the streets of Iran in the face of merciless brutality remind us, once again, that this struggle is alive and he is in good health. “The film, with its magic magical realism, deals with the stories of four Iranian women: Munis, Zarin, Faezeh and Fakhri, who, faced with the oppressive world in which they live, do their best to confront it and access a new one, where they can express themselves and be free at the same time These stories are also presented independently in video-installations of the artist, to whom Mahdokht usually joins, although he was not included in the feature film.
The video installation installation Games of Desire was first shown at the Gladstone Gallery in Brussels during September and October and then, during November, at the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont in Paris. The film was set in Laos and delves into the ritual chants of courtship proper to the Iam of this region. Couples of elderly people carrying this tradition are presented, which allows to verify the conflicts of roles outside the space of the Middle East in which the work of Shirin Neshat is centered.
In line with his activism and political position, in July 2009, Shirin Neshat joined the three-day hunger strike that took place in New York at the United Nations headquarters in protest at the election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran in 2011. In 2011, he joined the 135 artists who protested the poor conditions in which the workers who participated in the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi worked, asking that no artist sell or assign any work to this entity.
In 2010, Shirin Neshat was recognized as “Artist of the Decade” by journalist and art critic G. Roger Denson at the Huffington Post.
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