Shirin Neshat


ink on le silver gelatin print
60 x 45 inches
edition 1 of 5 + 2 artist proofs

The Book of Kings, Iranian-born artist Shirin Neshat’s recent photographic series, uses an ancient poem (referenced in the title) as a jumping off point for the contemporary images she creates. Written between c. 977 and 1010 AD, the poem recounts the Iran’s past through myth and history. Neshat locates her series as part of the current and continuing history of the Middle East, breaking the individual images into three groups – the Masses, the Patriots, and the Villains. Arab and Iranian youth portray the members of these three groups, each depicted in Neshat’s characteristic bold, black-and-white images with beautifully rendered calligraphic texts, here from the The Book of Kings, in addition to contemporary Iranian writers and prisoners. As they are combined with the striking, even confrontational images of young people, they seem to signify another epic moment in this history of the region, marked by tragedy, hope, and revolution. Sara Khaki, like all images from the Patriots group, is shot from the waist up, with her right hand proudly (or defiantly) over her heart. The composition of the calligraphic text in this group leaves two vertical bands over the eyes, suggesting war paint or even tears. Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran, and moved to the United States in 1974. She has had solo exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City; Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Art Institute of Chicago; Serpentine Gallery, London; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, León; and the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin. Neshat was included in Prospect.1, the 2008 New Orleans Biennial, Documenta XI, the 2000 Whitney Biennial, and the 1999 Venice Biennale. Neshat was awarded the Silver Lion at the 66th International Venice Film Festival (2009), the Lillian Gish Prize (2006), the Hiroshima Freedom Prize (2005), and the First International Award at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999). OverRuled, Neshat’s commission for the fourth edition of Performa, premiered in November 2011. A major retrospective of Neshat’s work, organized by the Detroit Institute of Arts, will open in April 2013. Neshat currently lives and works in New York City.