Iranian Artist Shirin Neshat to Open Exhibition at the Broad

Shirin Neshat, Untitled from Roja series, 2016. Gelatin silver print. © All works featured in this article are by Shirin Neshat, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian artist born in Qazvin, Iran who arrived in Los Angeles in 1974 to study art. She began her career in the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and is known for her famed 1993-97 Women of Allah series. This photographic series entails self-portraits of the artist wearing the chador, a type of Islamic head-covering, with verses from religious texts inscribed on the exposed parts of her body, such as her hands and face.

Untitled, 1994 (left) and Speechless, 1996 (right) from Women of Allah series. Gelatin silver print and ink.

Neshat’s photographs and films were banned from Iran, and she has been living in exile in the U.S. ever since. In a recent interview, Neshat responded to whether or not she considers herself a feminist by expressing her interest in the various cultural archetypes of women.

“No matter which country or culture they come from, it’s always this duality of the extremely fragile and vulnerable and yet extremely strong and defiant,” she said. In this, Neshat captures a logic surrounding femininity that exists in every culture and is often contradictory. These inconsistent constructions exist as a result of various dominating structures of desire wherein different types of women fill different societal roles. Under this logic, a docile woman can be things that a strong, more defiant women cannot (a mother, a wife) and vice versa; she can never be both.

Rapture, 1999. Video still.

The exhibition opening at the Broad, Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again, will be a chronological display of Neshat’s artistic career. It will begin with her earlier body of work, which grapples with the more personal narrative of the artist’s struggles living in exile while the Iran she knew all but disappeared and evolved into a theocracy. For example, in her Fervor series, she highlights the growth of institutionalized gender segregation in Iranian society.

Fervor Series, 2000. Gelatin silver print

In recent years, her work has progressed into an exploration of collectivist struggle and revolution, with subjects such as the Green Revolution in Iran and the 2011 uprising in Egypt. These events are often regarded as the Persian Awakening and Arab Awakening respectively, and were tumultuous periods of widespread political demonstration against corrupt offices that spread across regions of the Middle East.

The Broad will also feature exclusive works by Neshat that she created in Iran and will be displaying publicly for the first time. Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again opens October 19, 2019 and runs until February 16, 2020.

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