The new monumental opus of the international Iranian- American artist, "Women without Men", which begun in 2004 and was completed in 2008. Neshat's new work is based on a banned book from 1989 by the Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur. The exhibition is composed of 5 video installations through which the artist narrates 5 parallel stories of women who come from different social classes and who meet in a garden in the town of Karaj.
Curated by Anna Kafetsi
The National Museum of Contemporary Art presents the new monumental opus of the international Iranian- American artist Shirin Neshat, Women without Men, which begun in 2004 and was completed in 2008. Neshat's new work is based on a banned book from 1989 by the Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur. The novel is set in 1953, the year when the democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, vainly tried to avert a coup d'état mounted by American and British forces, whose task it was to reinstate the Shah as an absolute ruler in order to avoid the nationalisation of the country's oil resources.
It is composed of five video installations through which the artist narrates five parallel stories of women who come from different social classes and who, through different paths, meet in a garden in the town of Karaj. Common connective element of the five characters, the unmarried teacher Mahdokht, the young prostitute Zarin, the two unmarried friends Munis and Faezeh, and the middle-class Farokh Legha, is their struggle for freedom and survival in a regime of strict rules, prohibitions and guilt in relation to the social behavior and the personal self-determination of women. The narrative, as in Parsipur's novel, unfolds in an atmosphere of magic realism.
The first part of the cycle, tilted Mahdokht, was a commission by EMST and premiered at the large scale exhibition Transcultures held in the framework of the Cultural Olympiad in 2004.
Shirin Neshat was born in 1957 in Kazvin, Iran. In 1979, at the age of seventeen, she went to the US where she studied at the University of Berkeley, California. She exhibited her works for the first time during the early 90s in New York. During the years 1993-1997 she created the well-known series of photographs "Women of Allah". In 1996 she started using 16 mm and 35 mm film which she transferred to video, and three years later she started creating double-projection installations. In 1999 she received the First International Prize at the XLVIII Venice Biennale with the enthralling double projection installation Turbulent, followed by international participations in large scale international exhibitions and solo presentations in contemporary art museums.
Image: Untitled (Zarin Series), 2005. C-print © Shirin Neshat, Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York
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