Photographer and video artist of Iranian origin, Shirin Neshat gained worldwide recognition thanks to her brilliant portraits of women entirely overlaid with Farsi calligraphy, notably within the Women of Allah series (1994 – 1997), then thanks to her video entitled Turbulent (1998), for which she received the Golden Lion of the 48e Biennial of Venice, getting thus the international artistic scene acknowledgment.
Through the creative strength and beauty of her poetic work, Shirin Neshat explores the cultural and religious borders erected between men and women in contemporary Islamic societies, trying to reveal all the complexity of Muslim culture, far away from a Western stereotyped view. Rejecting the idea of turning oriental women in victims, this artist on the other hand applies herself to revealing the strength, the bravery and the obstinacy hidden beneath these women’s veils, whether they stand as a group like in Rapture (1999), or looking for their identity and individuality like in Fervor (2000).
Shirin Neshat’s most important project to date is Women without Men. Inspired by Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel, it chronicles the intertwining lives of five women during the summer 1953 in Teheran, a tumultuous moment in Iranian history when a CIA and British-led coup d’état brought the Shah back to power. This six-year project was conceived at once for the art world, with five videos depicting the five women’s stories (Mahdokht - 2004, Zarin - 2005, Munis - 2008, Faezeh - 2008, Farokh Legha - 2008), accompanied by series of photographs, and for the cinema, with a first feature film, which earned Neshat the Silver Lion – Prize for best director at the 2009 Venice Mostra film festival.
With Games of Desire realized in Laos in 2008 and exhibited in 2009, the artist takes a look on a traditional culture removed from her personal one, stating so her engagement in a transcultural aesthetics and questioning, in the heart of her artistic process.