Gabinet. Shirin Neshat
As part of its programme of exhibitions, Es Baluard develops a line dedicated especially to its own collection, based on small-format displays that foster the documentation and diffusion of some of the museum’s significant works, complemented by temporary loans that enable us to expand our knowledge of the artists represented. Continuing with the work of promoting the visibility of the work of women in the history of art, we begin 2017 dedicating the Gabinet space to the artist Shirin Neshat (Qazvin, Iran, 1957). In addition, because of the particular feminist significance of this artist’s work, we also continue to stress the myths representing women in the Mediterranean rim based on the perception of a creator in exile who is aware of the convergences and divergences of East and West.
A visual discourse on two complex themes, the roles of gender and contemporary Islamic societies, constantly trying to transcend towards a universal meaning. This is how Shirin Neshat defines her own work, which she has developed using photography, video and film since the 1990s. The Islamic revolution in Iran (1978-1979) was the reason for her forced exile in the United States. Specifically New York, from where she has developed her professional career ever since, thus cut off from the culture of her country of origin.
After her return to Iran in 1990, when she verified the transformation of her native country, Neshat felt the need to discover and study the Islamic revolution and its consequences, and the role of women in the conservative Islamic society. “It was one of the most surprising experiences I have ever had: the difference between what I had remembered of Iranian culture and what I found was huge. The change excited me as much as it scared me… When I returned to the United States, I became obsessed with the experience I had lived out and began travelling regularly to Iran”, says the creator. Her first work, the series of photographs Women of Allah (1993-1997), centred on the revolution and the concept of martyrdom, brought her international recognition. Her images, with their compositional simplicity bristling with symbolism, become the universal voice of the struggle for independence, promoting culture as an instrument to be wielded against the authoritarian government and for the search for identity from exile. Shirin Neshat observes the situation of women after the Islamic revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini (1902-1989), developing a significant language with subtle aesthetics which is however revealing. Thus, she analyses the historical and social changes and the rigid codes of control established both socially and ideologically that emerged after the new definition of the country’s identity, paying particular attention to Iranian women and their condition, relegated from the public sphere, silenced.
Her series of photographs give way to film projects, the possibilities that the moving image lend to the analysis of and conceptual codes and positionings provide her with new interpretations and poetical and conceptual signifiers.
The video-installation Fervor, one of her first films, made in the year 2000 – which concludes the trilogy that focusses on the roles of gender, formed along with Turbulent (1998) and Rapture (1999) -, is being exhibited for the first time in the Balearic Islands, along with one of the photographs linked to this work from the Es Baluard collection. Physical attraction and sexuality, taboo subjects in Islamic society, are set out by Neshat in this videographic piece, a dual narrative that reveals how repression affects men and women equally, instructing them not to sin, condemn desire and preserve morality.
Michael Cavuto, Mitos Colom, Caroline Luce, Lauren Smith
Gladstone Gallery, New York & Brussels