Born in Qazvin, Iran, 1957
Lives and works in New York, New York
Shirin Neshat is an Iranian artist known for her films, video installations and photographs. Her work focuses on the political and philosophical dimensions of women’s turbulent experiences in contemporary Islamic countries.
Summer 1953, series #1 is from a larger, and her most important body of work, relating to the feature film Women Without Men. Neshat’s film is based on the book by Iranian author Shabrnoush Parispour, and earned her the Silver Lion Prize for best director at the Venice Mostra film festival in 2009. Along with the film, Neshat created several video installations and related series of photographs. The novel, described as magical realism, tells the story of five women during the summer of 1953, the year of the coup d’etat in Iran. There are 4 photographs in the Summer 1953 series relating to the political upheaval. As in all of her work, the images are direct, fervent and sincere.
In an interview Neshat was quoted as saying “I appreciate beauty as a way to neutralize violence.”
Her reasoning was “My justification at the end is that this notion of beauty, symmetry and harmony is a fundamental part of all arts, whether Persian, Islamic or Classical art. I really believe that beauty is a fundamental way of getting closer to the divine. Of course, that conception comes from spiritual Islam. But I also think it’s very poignant to bring that spiritual element into juxtaposition with the political reality.”
Originally from Iran, Shirin Neshat moved to the United States in 1974. Her work is widely exhibited and collected by numerous important institutions. She has been included in Documenta XI, the 1999 Venice Biennale and the 2000 Whitney Biennial. She has been awarded numerous prizes and grants including the Hiroshima Freedom Prize and the Lillian Gish Prize. Neshat currently lives and works in New York.
Image copyright Shirin Neshat, courtesy of Gladstone Gallery