Shirin Neshat – Iran & USA

Shirin Neshat doesn’t quite know where to call home. The 43-year-old artist was born and raised in Iran but moved to the U.S. after high school to study art. When the Islamic Revolution overtook her homeland in 1979, Neshat was exiled and couldn’t return until 11 years later – and the country she went home to bore little resemblance to the one she left … (

She says: “For a long time I resisted that word, exile. I feel like when you say “exile” it implies a state that is not voluntary like when you leave your country. At the time I made that statement -that was quite a few years ago – I had been traveling to Iran, and I was really proud that I had made the effort to go there. It’s within the last few years that the notion of exile has really started to sink in for me. Every time I tried to go back, there were all these blocks that prevented me. I started, for the first time, to really feel this frustration. Before, it had always been a matter of choice. I made the decision. This time I realized I didn’t have the choice, and I felt really angry and frustrated. Then I said, “Well you know something? I am an artist in exile.” I decided that maybe once I accepted that, other doors would open in my mind in terms of the way I situate myself, in terms of my work, my psychology”. (BelieverMag).

She was also impressed with the museum’s commitment to show the works of artists who have not been seen in the region, including Shirin Neshat, Pipilotti Rist and Bill Viola … (full text, Jan. 9, 2008).


Shirin Neshat – Iran & USA

Listen the video: The Noam Chomsky / Shirin Neshat / Death Penalty panel, 56.40 min., 09.06.2006 on

This will be the first time that the subject will be offered as an extensive one-day course and for many art lovers in Dubai, some of the artists to be discussed will be familiar thanks to having exhibited in the city and across the region. These include Farhad Moshiri, Shirin Neshat, Walid Raad, Rabab El-Nemr and Paul Guiragossian. (full text, Jan. 7, 2008).

Universes in

Solo show reviews include: Gert & Uwe Tobias, Mariko Mori, Carlos Amorales, Mary Heilmann, Slater Bradley, Ian Kiaer, Duncan Marquiss, Luisa Lambri, Charlotte Posenenske, Joanne Tatham & Tom O’ Sullivan, Mathieu Mercier, Mark Leckey, Job Kolewijn, Ian Tweedy, Konstantin Kakanias, Enrico Morsiani, Gino De Dominicis, Yael Bartana, Jordan Wolfson, Lorenzo Scotto di Luzio, Shirin Neshat, Jean-Luc Moulène, Sean Snyder, Teresa Margolles, Noriko Yamaguchi. (full text, Jan. 7, 2008).

An Unveiling.

Neshat’s most recent work has consisted of films in the form of dual video projections. By projecting images on opposing walls, the viewer, who stands in the middle of this work, is engaged in a visual conversation, physically experiencing both screens, thus eliminating the passivity permitted by traditional cinema situations. Neshat’s new film, Soliloquy, which she directed and acted in and is being premiered at the Carnegie International, tells the story of a Muslim woman who is in constant negotiation between East and West, between tradition and present-day pressures. Shirin Neshat’s photographs and videos have been included in many international exhibitions, including Jurassic Technologies Revenant, the 10th Biennale of Sydney (1996); 5th International Istanbul Biennale and Trade Routes: History and Geography. 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997); Unfinished History, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1998) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999, see Google search for); and Exploding Cinema, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Heavenly Figure, Kunsthalle D’orf, Zeitwenden, Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn, in cooperation with Kunstmuseum, Bonn, SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico, La Ville, le Jardin, la M’ire-1998, 2000, 1999, Acad’e de France, Villa Medici, Rome, and 48th Venice Biennale, 1999. (full text).

The exotic and the everyday.

“Persepolis” isn’t any old coming-of-age story, just as Iran is no ordinary country. As the Bush administration lies its way toward a potential military confrontation with that nation, artists like Marjane Satrapi, who can build a bridge between the West and the Muslim world, are a rare breed. She’s far from the only one, but she speaks to a larger audience than novelist Nahid Rachlin or even video artist Shirin Neshat. (full text, December 20, 2007).

haber arts: exile on main street.

Shirin Neshat (born March 26, 1957 in Qazvin, Iran) is a contemporary visual artist who lives in New York. She is known primarily for her work in film, video and photography. Neshat’s parents were upper middle-class. Her father was a well-respected physician and her mother a homemaker. She grew up in a westernized household that adored the Shah of Iran and his ideologies. Neshat has stated about her father, “He fantasized about the west, romanticized the west, and slowly rejected all of his own values; both my parents did. What happened, I think, was that their identity slowly dissolved, they exchanged it for comfort. It served their class” (Mackenzie 3). As a part of Neshat’s “Westernization” she was enrolled in a Catholic boarding school in Tehran. She found the environment cold and hostile in comparison to her caring family … (full text).


An Iranian-born artist who has lived in the United States since 1974, Shirin Neshat portrays the emotional space of exile in her photographs and films. She questions the role of women in Islamic society, recognizing the tensions between a collective cultural identity and one driven by individual concerns. Neshat uses the chador, the head-to-toe Islamic covering that is mandatory for women in Iran, as an icon for repression and female identity. Passage (2001) was commissioned by composer Philip Glass, whose orchestration rhythmically underscores the ritualized movements of the funerary preparations and procession that are the film’s subjects. Neshat’s panoramic shots of the landscape provide an epic backdrop for the two throngs preparing the funeral: men carry a shrouded corpse across sand dunes, and chador-covered women dig a grave with their hands. Eventually, the actions of the men and women move from the ritual to the elemental as repetitive movements give rise to dust, sticks, stones, and fire, which form a metaphoric circle of life, death, and the hope of renewal. (Guggenheim, 4 photos).


She says also: “I don’t follow any particular set of philosophy. Rather, I think my art becomes a canvas to face my own personal existential anxieties, and to raise questions regarding the world that I live in. Often this philosophical aim leads to the creation of specific characters or narratives that are melancholic or rather mystical. I’ve come to realize lately that all of my female protagonists are somewhat tragic, either mad, outcasts, or a sinners. In strange ways, none ever quite fit the society, just like I remember Dervishes living on the streets of Iran, never seemed to belong to anywhere. As a young person, I was always drawn to religion – Islam and the idea of a faith. In fact I prayed daily even if I didn’t understand the meaning of those Arabic words that I recited everyday. For us, religion functioned as a collective activity that offered emotional and psychological security and comfort. I remember as I arrived in the USA, and as my mild religious practice dissipated, came an overwhelming feeling of loss and displacement, that I have never completely recovered from” … (full interview text).

Her publications: on Gladstone Gallery; on Google Images-search; on Google Video-search; on Google Photos-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Blogs-search; on Google Scholar-search; on amazon; on wikipedia.


Time’s Photo Essays;


Iranian Arts;
Iranische Video-Künstlerin;

Thoughts in Exile;

Shirin Neshat on

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