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Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat
© Rodolfo Martinez

Shirin Neshat, born in Iran in 1957, lives in New York where she works as an artist and filmmaker. In her work she deals with the lives of Muslim women in dictatorial regimes.

Shirin Neshat grew up in a liberal, intellectual home during the reign of the Shah and studied art in the United States. With the Islamic revolution, the seizure of power by Ayatollah Khomeini and the severing of diplomatic relations between the US and Iran in 1979, she was denied a return to her homeland. She returned for the first time in 1990 and was shocked by the effects of the revolution – especially on the lives of women in Iran, whose public status compared to men was reduced. Under these impressions she created her first photographic series “Unveiling” (1993) and “Women of Allah” (1993-1997) – impressive, large-format black and white portraits of Muslim women. In them she subversively contrasts femininity, violence and poetry: Some of the women wear the chador, other firearms, only their uncovered hands, eyes, feet and faces are covered in Persian calligraphy. Shirin Neshat’s works are represented in many museum collections worldwide and she has had numerous solo exhibitions, including in Venice, Washington D.C., Seoul, Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Montréal. In 2009, Shirin Neshat won the Silver Lion at the Biennale Film Festival in Venice with her first feature film Women Without Men. In 2017, she made her debut as an opera director with a much-acclaimed production of Verdi’s Aida at the Salzburg Festival. Shortly thereafter, she finished her second feature film Looking for Oum Kulthum, which tells of the life and artistic work of the most successful singer in the Middle East.

Message of greeting from Shirin Neshat at the awarding of the Goethe Medal 2019