February 08 - April 05, 2008
New works
galerie jerome de noirmont

exhibition release


From February 8th to April 5th, 2008, for her second individual exhibition at the gallery, Shirin Neshat will unveil her new pieces of work - two videos entitled Munis and Faezeh, as well as new photographs accompanying these two projects.
Still primarily inspired by the culture of her home country, Shirin Neshat has been interested for several years in a more universal approach to concepts of society, identity, asylum, refuge, utopia, etc. Taking a more cinematographic approach than in her early works, she uses the power of her images to conjure up human passions, thus bringing the current dialectics of man/woman, east/west, oppressor/oppressed to a climax whilst at the same time introducing query. The bold metaphorical imagery of her early films has given way to a more narrative approach, with subtler characters.

Since 2003, Shirin Neshat’s work has drawn its inspiration from Women Without Men, a novel by the Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur written in the style of magical realism interweaving the lives of 5 Iranian women during the summer of 1953, when a coup d’état led by the CIA put the Shah’s family back into power. The book, which resulted in prison and exile for the author, draws parallels between 5 women seeking freedom in order to get away from the oppressive shackles of their daily lives, in a country in crisis. Shirin Neshat gives us her re-interpretation of the novel with 5 videos relating the lives of these 5 women. The first video, Mahdokht*, produced in 2003, tells the story of a woman ensnared by sexual taboos. Zarin* made in 2005, deals with a young prostitute’s emotional and psychological depression.
The two new videos released now, at the start of 2008 introduce the characters of Munis* and Faezeh*. They are both projected onto a single screen, in Cinemascope format, large enough to ensure that the characters can be seen life-size, in colour, inside a specially-converted room in the gallery, as the artist stresses the need to create an emotional and visceral interaction between the viewer and the plights of the characters she depicts.

Munis* is a woman in her late 30’s, whose passion for social and political activism is constantly clashing with her brother’s oppression. As she escapes from him she witnesses the murder of an activist by the guards. She flies off the roof and finds herself lying dead, alongside the dead activist. Death gives Munis an unexpected opportunity for a discussion with the activist. So she discovers that “reality” in close proximity is both promising and disappointing.
Faezeh* is a religious young woman whose dreams of marriage and a family have been shattered by a rape. When her friend Munis takes her into an orchard in the country to seek temporary refuge, she is haunted by a woman draped in a black veil, who keeps appearing and disappearing in the forest. The unsettling mystery drags Faezeh down into madness. Above all, this piece of work shows the emotional and psychological breakdown of a Muslim woman, whose entire sense of conviction, morality and religious faith is completely crushed following a sexual assault.

At the same time and again inspired by these stories, Shirin Neshat has created a completely new set of photographs, which mainly feature portraits of men and women. Here the artist depicts characters from the same 1950s Iranian historical context. Some of the prints are enhanced by ink calligraphies, thus giving the depicted characters a mysterious sense of narrative. Shirin Neshat is firmly attached to her cultural roots and here she reaffirms her love of literature, indeed in her own way she seems to be passing on part of her heritage, the ancestral art of Persian books, where the writing is engaged in a constant confrontation with the images.
Also, some black and white photos plunge us back into the historical context of Tehran in the summer of 1953. The scenes show group’s choreographies, with many characters in an urban panorama.

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian artist, born in Qazvin in 1957. Immigrant living in the United States since 1974 where she still lives, she established herself as an important artist within the contemporary artistic scene thanks to her photographs series Women of Allah (1994). Her first major video installation, Turbulent (1998), has been awarded by the Golden Lion during the Biennial of Venice in 1999. Celebrated also for her poignant mediation on the rootless, unsettled psychology of exile in Rapture (1999), the artist has been exposed these last years in great museum institutions and has been awarded several times.

*The videos bare the name of the female character starred in.

PRESS CONTACT: Emmanuelle de Noirmont / Ludyvine Travers-Pitrou
Tel : +33 (0) / Fax : +33 (0) / E-mail : info@denoirmont.com
IMAGE 300 dpi available for press, on request to the gallery.