As part of the 16th edition of the PHotoEspaña International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts, Fundación Telefónica is hosting Shirin Neshat. Escrito sobre el cuerpo (Shirin Neshat. Written on the Body), an exhibition curated by Octavio Zaya which will be on display at Espacio Fundación Telefónica until 1st September 2013.
While the last edition was dedicated to the face, this one focuses on the body, both as a catalyst and a channel of communication in cultural, political and social processes, as well as being one of the main subjects of photography from its beginnings. The exhibition thus includes a selection of works in which the body becomes a large canvas for some of the most complex issues regarding the idiosyncrasy of the Islamic world. In it and through it, Neshat talks about gender differences (which impose different modes of representation) and the stereotypes dividing East and West, but also those of the Islamic society itself with regard to women, to its nostalgia for the past and to the profound transformation of a region with over 2000 years of history.
Returning to Iran after a long period abroad, Neshat was forcibly struck by the unknown country that lay before her eyes, a shock that, on the one hand, brought on an explosion of creativity and, on the other, a view of the more spiritual side of Iran. This is why her photographs and video projections have a strong ritual component. The poses of her subjects recall atavistic religious ceremonies. Ancestral songs and dances are anchored within contemporary social and political events. Also alluding to tradition but with a different intention is the use made by the artist of the combination of calligraphy and figurative representation, typical of Persian art. It is, in short, a game of opposites, showing the dual context in which women live in the Islamic world.
Some of the works in the exhibition include Stories of Martyrdrom, from the seriesWomen of Allah, photographs from the series Rapture and The Book of Kings and the video installations Zarin and OveRuled.
'Shirin Neshat. Escrito sobre el cuerpo' is a journey through an intimate and non-conformist vision, which is free yet simultaneously bound to its Islamic heritage, and which transcends the dramatic events of today’s world through poetry.
Shirin Neshat (1957, Qazvin, Iran), has been living and working in the US since 1974. She has displayed solo exhibitions at art centres and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in Mexico City, the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland, the Castello di Rivoli in Turin, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Wexner Center in Columbia (Ohio), the Art Institute of Chicago, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the MUSAC in León and the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Neshat also participated in Documenta 11 (2002), the Whitney Biennial (2000) and in 1999 won the Golden Lion at the 48th Venice Biennale. In 2009 she was awarded the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival for her film “Women without Men”. She has also received awards such as the Hiroshima Freedom Prize and the Lillian Gish Prize. In 2008, her solo exhibition Women Without Men opened the ARoS Kunstmuseum in Denmark, travelled to the National Gallery of Contemporary Art in Athens and opened the Kulturhuset Stockholm in autumn of that year. Currently, Shirin Neshat is producing her second film about the life and art of the legendary Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum.