Iranian, born 1957
Internationally acclaimed artist Shirin Neshat takes on loaded themes in photography, film, and video works that delve into issues of gender, identity, and politics in Muslim countries, and the relationship between the personal and political. Her film Women without Men (2009), which won the prestigious Silver Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, follows four women—including a political activist, a prostitute, and a would-be mother—set in the context of 1950s Iran and featuring surreal elements to convey the psychological states of her characters. More recently Neshat has collaborated with American artist Larry Barns, taking portrait photographs of elderly, low-income Egyptian workers, including mechanics, street peddlers, teachers, grandmothers, and housewives, exploring the hardship experienced by individuals living under tumultuous regimes. “Today, again in the comfort of my sanctuary in New York, I look back and wonder how they are,” she says. “What is the future for Egypt? Is there any hope for return of that revolutionary fervor which seemed so pure, beautiful, and powerful?” Neshat has also collaborated with composer Philip Glass and the singer-songwriter Sussan Deyhim.