Mythology, history, and social events have long provided artists with inspiration. For Shirin Neshat, emotions and personal life experiences have also played an essential role in her artistic practice. In this exhibition, the artist looks at the connections between ancient history and the politics of the present in work characterized by a strong visual language that employs photography, calligraphy, poetry, and filmmaking to explore the primal concepts of violence, passion and love that drive human history.
In her work, Neshat bears witness to the capacity of human beings to simultaneously build and destroy what constitutes them and their civilizations. Combining poetic visuals and textual language that reveal the paradoxes of beauty and violence, the artworks displayed in Mathaf’s galleries propose different perspectives on these collective histories. The contrasts and dissonant rhythms created between the individual works are part of the exhibition’s layout, with the viewer experiencing a succession of powerful images and emptier spaces. The exhibition is structured on a binary layout 01010, with additional works in between spaces, and it features existing and newly produced works. These include the photographic series Neshat produced in the early 1990s
and two video installations that address the historical, cultural, and political realities on which the artist has focused for the past thirty years. In the photographic series, Women of Allah (1993-97), the artist expresses her position on the situation in Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979. In her more recent series, The Book of Kings (2012) and Our House is on Fire (2013), Neshat responds to political events throughout the Arab world, capturing the emotions of people she met after the Arab Spring.
Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran, in 1957. She was a university student in the United States during the 1979 Iranian Revolution and has lived in the U.S. ever since, moving to New York City, where she continued her artistic research and studies. She remained in the United States to pursue her artistic research and studies. It was only after traveling to Iran in 1993 that Neshat identified the central problematics of her work. Her photographic series, Women of Allah (1993-97), set the tone for a strong, precise, and often provocative practice that consistently addresses universal issues of gender, power and freedom, using an active aesthetic of change.
Curator: Abdellah Karroum
Assistant curator: Leonore-Namkha Beschi
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha
Ground Floor Galleries
9 November, 2014 until 15 February, 2015