Art for me is a place where my most inner and outer worlds connect. It's the only place where I can be most truthful and most profound and really facing questions on doubts, fears, anxieties, hopes and dreams.
Shirin Neshat (B. 1957) is an Iranian visual artist who lives in New York City, known primarily for her work in film, video and photography. Her artwork centers on the contrasts between Islam and the West, femininity and masculinity, public life and private life, antiquity and modernity, and bridging the spaces between these subjects. Neshat has been recognized countless times for her work, from winning the International Award of the XLVIII Venice Biennale in 1999, to winning the Silver Lion for best director at the 66th Venice Film Festival in 2009, to being named Artist of the Decade by Huffington Post critic G. Roger Denson.
Neshat is the fourth of five children of wealthy parents, brought up in the religious town of Qazvin in north-western Iran under a "very warm, supportive Muslim family environment", where she learned traditional religious values through her maternal grandparents. Neshat's father was a physician and her mother a homemaker. Neshat said that her father "fantasized about the west, romanticized the west, and slowly rejected all of his own values; both her parents did. What happened, I think, was that their identity slowly dissolved, they exchanged it for comfort. It served their class”. As a part of Neshat’s "Westernization" she was enrolled in a Catholic boarding school in Tehran. Through her father’s acceptance of Western ideologies came an acceptance of a form of western feminism. Neshat’s father encouraged each of his daughters to "be an individual, to take risks, to learn, to see the world", and he sent his daughters as well as his sons to college to receive their higher education.
After graduating school, she moved to New York.
Since her first solo exhibition, at Franklin Furnace in New York in 1993, Neshat has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Dallas Museum of Art (2000); Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Serpentine Gallery, London; Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, León; and the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2005). In 2008, her solo exhibition “Women Without Men” opened at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Denmark, and traveled to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens, and to the Kulturhuset, Stockholm. She was included in Prospect.1, the 2008 New Orleans Biennial, documenta XI, the 2000 Whitney Biennial, and the 1999 Venice Biennale. In 2012 Shirin Neshat had a Solo Exhibition in Singapore, Game of Desire at Art Plural Gallery. In 2013 a major retrospective of Neshat’s work, exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts; Written on the Body,” Espacio Fundación Telefónica, Madrid; “Shirin Neshat,” Dirimart, Istanbul, “The Book of Kings,” Faurschou Foundation, Beijing. In 2014 solo exhibitions; Afterwards" Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha, Qatar; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Mücsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest; "Our House is on Fire," Rauschenberg Foundation Project Space, New York. In 2015 "The Home of My Eyes," Yarat Art Center, Baku, Azerbaijan; "Facing History," Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C. In 2016 "Shirin Neshat," Dirimart, Istanbul, Turkey
"Shirin Neshat," Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa
Since 2000 Neshat has also participated in film festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival (2000), Chicago International Film Festival (2001), San Francisco International Film Festival (2001), Locarno International Film Festival (2002), Tribeca Film Festival (2003), Sundance Film Festival (2003), and Cannes Film Festival (2008).
In 2013 she was a member of the jury at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival.
Neshat was artist in residence at the Wexner Center for the Arts (2000) and at MASS MoCA (2001). In 2004 she was awarded an honorary professorship at the Universität der Künste, Berlin. In 2006 she was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, one of the richest prizes in the arts, given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.”
In 2010 Neshat was named Artist of the Decade by Huffington Post critic G. Roger Denson, for "the degree to which world events have more than met the artist in making her art chronically relevant to an increasingly global culture," for reflecting "the ideological war being waged between Islam and the secular world over matters of gender, religion, and democracy," and because "the impact of her work far transcends the realms of art in reflecting the most vital and far-reaching struggle to assert human rights."
In 2015 Neshat was selected and photographed by Annie Leibovitz as part of the 43rd Pirelli Calendar which celebrated some of the world's most inspiring women.
Shirin Neshat | filmed by Out of Sync | NYC 2015
Interview | Jesper Bundgaard
Camera and edit | Per Henriksen
Producer | Out of Sync
Artworks courtesy | Shirin Neshat | Gladstone Gallery
© Out of Sync 2016