Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Shirin Neshat: Facing History

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Shirin Neshat: Facing History

Article excerpt

An exhibit of works by Iranian-American visual artist Shirin Neshat titled "Shirin Neshat: Facing History" is on display at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC through Sept. 20. The exhibit offers a moving and informative perspective of Iran's tumultuous political history; it is both a history lesson and a jarring yet beautiful visual and auditory experience.

The artist focuses on three key events in Iran's history: the 1953 CIA-backed coup that overthrew democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh; the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to power; and the Green Revolution of 2009 disputing the results of the presidential election that returned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office.

Neshat's photographs feature lines of Persian poetry, calligraphy and drawings, which the artist meticulously and artfully added by hand to the pieces, which are of considerable size. The script mirrors the art of henna painting. The poetry includes themes of feminism, martyrdom, identity and displacement-an underlying theme of the exhibit resulting from Neshat's encounter with Iran after the 1979 Revolution. The Iran Neshat faced no longer reflected the identity she clung to or the memories of her childhood.

Dispersed among the photo series are Neshat's short films, which contrast the roles and rights of men and women in Iran throughout modern history. They use vivid video and melancholic audio to express the artist's personal experience with gender inequality and lost identity. …

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