As part of the citywide biennial, Prospect.1 New Orleans, an exhibit of work by internationally renowned artist Shirin Neshat opens at the Newcomb Art Gallery on Saturday (Nov. 1).
The exhibition, “Shirin Neshat: Women Without Men,” consists of four video installations from an ongoing film project inspired by Shahrnush Parsipur's surrealist novel Women Without Men (Zanan Bedun-e Mardan), banned by the Iranian government in 1989.
In each installation, Mahdokht, Zarin, Munis and Faezeh, the artist explores single narratives from the author's interwoven tale of outcast Iranian women to comment on the lives of real women in traditional Muslim societies.
“Shirin Neshat is one of the most important contemporary artists working today,” said gallery director Charles M. Lovell, “so we are excited that the Newcomb Art Gallery was chosen to exhibit her work as part of Prospect.1. And although she explores social issues specific to Iran, audiences will see that she also transcends cultural boundaries in order to present universally significant themes such as displacement, isolation and loss.”
Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran a center of textile trade 100 miles northwest of Tehran in 1957. Moving to California at age 17, she received her MFA from the University of Californiaâ“Berkeley in 1983, and soon after moved to New York. In 1990, she visited her home country for the first time in more than 10 years, and the experience was transformative.
Radically altered by the Islamic Revolution and its fundamentalist regime, Iran's cultural and political landscape deeply disturbed, yet also intrigued, the artist.
“We are fortunate that the Newcomb Art Gallery at Tulane will be one of the most visited sites for this outstanding exhibition,” said Lovell. “It is perfect for the gallery because it cuts across many diverse disciplines, which will appeal to knowledge-seeking Tulane University students.”
Prospect.1 New Orleans is the largest international art biennial ever held in the United States. It is presenting 81 artists in more than 25 venues to reach an estimated audience of 100,000 visitors.
Dan Cameron, curator of Prospect.1 New Orleans, conceived the biennial as a way to reinvigorate the city, a historic, regional artistic center, following the human, civic, and economic devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The primary goal of the biennial exhibition is to redevelop New Orleans as a cultural destination where the visual arts are celebrated and can once again thrive.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the gallery will present two documentary films, Iranian Women Filmmakers and Shirin Neshat: An Inextinguishable Fire on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 3 p.m. in the Woldenberg Art Center's Stone Auditorium.
Plans for the artist to speak on campus are also under way. The exhibition will be on display from Nov. 1, 2008, to Feb. 7, 2009.
Teresa Parker Farris is the marketing coordinator at the Newcomb Art Gallery.