Shirin Neshat left Iran at theage of 17 to study fine art in the USA. During the regime of Shah Reza Pahlavi it was nothing out of the ordinary for parents with sufficient means to send their children off to the "West" in orderto further their education. Many years later, in 1990, she returned to Iran for the first time. It was a brief return to a country she scarcely recognized. The first Gulf War between Iran andIraq, which lasted eight years, had just drawn to an end. The war had decimated a large part of the male population, women in chadors or burqas dominated the cityscape, monumental images of martyrs weredisplayed on most buildings, the Islamic Revolution had altered the country completely, and the Islamic regime had come to determine every aspect of the lives of the people, right down to thequestion of what people ate and drank and wore. During this period the country had been barely accessible to journalists from the West and was almost exclusively associated with fundamentalism, fanaticismand terrorism.
She explores the distinctive opposites of the culture: man-woman, free-oppressed, power-impotence, nature-culture and tradition-renewal.
who works from the perspective of two verydivergent cultural backgrounds, focuses the visual discourse in her projects on the social developments of contemporary Islam, or specifically on conditions of life in Iran. Although she explicitly bringsout culturally specific phenomena in her work, she simultaneously succeeds in subtly striking the tenor of a more universal language; not only does she present a nuanced image of her country of...