Shirin Neshat

(b. 1957) Born and raised in Iran, Neshat went to the United States to pursue higher education in 1974 and, due to the Islamic Revolution, she was unable to return to Iran until the early 1990s, where she started producing her first artworks. These were photographs in which she addressed notions of femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in Iran, such as The Unveiling (1993) and The Women of Allah series (1993-1997). The latter consisted of portraits of women overlaid with handwritten Persian calligraphy. Departing from overt political content or critique, her first video installations — the trilogy comprising Turbulent (1998), Rapture (1999), and Fervor (2000) — used two screens to portray abstract oppositions of gender and social status, individual and group. While the videos hinted at the restrictions of Islamic law against women, they also opened up to multiple readings, highlighting universal conditions. She now continues to engage with central themes of religion, violence, madness and gender in a variety of work, including the feature film Women Without Men (2009, Silver Lion at 66th Venice Film Festival) to her photographic series Zarin (2005) and the film Faezeh (2008). 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.