Shirin Neshat: Facing History

Edited by Melissa Chiu and Melissa Ho. Smithsonian, $60 (192p) ISBN 978-1-58834-509-7
Accompanying an exhibit at the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum, this catalogue frames Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat's work in relation to the recent history of Iran and the Islamic world. Neshat's work is both astutely politically engaged and insistently attuned to emotional and impressionistic human experiences. A series of photographic prints and video installations, for instance, features a fictional character named Munis, a young woman who strives for social justice, confronts oppression from an older brother, commits suicide, and enters an otherworldly space of the political undead. Several other works feature Persian text, pulled from literary sources and inserted onto the hands, feet, and faces of Neshat's melancholic photographic subjects. The catalogue includes a number of essays celebrating Neshat in the context of modern Iranian history, and in particular the realities of U.S. influence and intervention in the country. In concert with the evocative, striking images and Neshat's own contextualization of her work, the catalogue provides not only an illuminating take on an important video and photographic artist, but also a nuanced understanding of Iran's recent political and cultural evolution. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/22/2015
Release date: 05/26/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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