The Gun and the Gaze
Shirin Neshat's photographs
December 8, 1997
From Hamid Dabashi's forward to Shirin Neshat's collection of photographs "Women of Allah" (Marco Noire Editore, Torino, Italy, 1997, tel: +39 11 919-1201, $40). Neshat's work is being exhibited at the Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco until December 20.
I plant my hands in the small garden:
I will grow green.
I know, I know, I know.
And the birds
will lay eggs
in the grooves
of my inky fingers. -- Forough Farokhzad
There is a palpable energy in Shirin Neshat's photographs, an almost tangible seduction obviating the violence it borders, deeply rooted in the historical culture she would ultimately have to call "home."
As an artist living in New York and form there addressing a global audience, Shirin Neshat quietly corrodes the most violent metaphysical imperative assumptions about the nature and function of an "Islamic" femininity.
Enduring assumptions of what constitutes an "Islamic woman" are at once domestic to that culture and colonially crafted on it. With a singular strike of creative genius, Shirin Neshat manages to target both of these divergent yet colliding agents.
The history of Shirin Neshat's bodily portrayals of this "Islamic woman" is the unwritten chronicle of a mute and concealed femininity. Her photographs show and tell what has been forbidden to show and tell.
That she manages to do this without violating the bodily codes of an "Islamic woman" marks the site of her creative imagination.
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Copyright Shirin Neshat
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