Feminist Spotlight: Shirin Neshat

You get two today, b/c I pre-empted them for Katrina.


Persian feminist Neshat is a visual artist whose work addresses fundamentalism, nationalism, faith, war, collective and individual identity, immigration, and gender. Some of her more widely circulated pieces juxtapose the rights of men with the loss of rights for women under fundamentalist Islamic regimes. Other work from the same series, shows how she uses the same method of juxtaposition in subtle ways, combining sacred texts, body art, and images of militarization to trouble both the image of Muslim women as passive and the impact of war on women’s lives.

Her “apolitical” stance in her earlier work was often misinterpreted as pro-Muslim, Neshat was raised Christian, but as her work progressed she presented a more aggressive critique of Muslim fundamentalism. She also produced lesser viewed work juxtaposing natural and human elements to expose the impact of violence on women and the earth and to show the connections and disconnects between nature and human life.

She also works in short film. Her 1999 film Soliloquy discussed issues of inbetweenity for Muslim women trapped between the East and the West and Between Modernity and Tradition. In 2001-2002 she collaborated with singer Sussan Deyhim which combined multimedia images, live performance, ancient text, and “silent chorus.” And in 2008 she did two film pieces, Munis and Faezeh, based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel Women Without Men.

Her work continues to evolve and to provoke questions and conversations about global gender issues in general and Muslim women in particular. Many of her most famous images from her Women of Islam series appear in the youtube compilation below:

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