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The Feminism of Resilience: Shirin Neshat at the Hirshhorn


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At the LA Review of Books, Rafia Zakaria writes about Shirin Neshat’s current exhibition at the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC. Zakaria suggests that the exhibition throws light on the history behind the delicate detente currently underway between the US and Iran. Here’s an excerpt:

The Neshat exhibition is on display at a time when Iran’s future literally lies in the hands of American political officials. All summer, John Kerry, President Obama’s secretary of state, has been working to hammer out a nuclear deal that would permit a lifting of the sanctions that were placed on Iran following the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The two countries struck a deal on July 14, 2015, but House Republicans staunchly oppose it, denouncing the deal and its stipulations as an effective license for Iran to build nuclear weapons, and are threatening a veto. It was not until September 2, 2015, that the Obama Administration was able to gather enough votes in the US Senate to thwart Republican efforts to subvert the deal.

Neshat’s exhibition makes an artistic intervention into this complex political milieu — the transformation of a long held enemy into a potential friend. The assemblage of photographs and black-and-white video installations on view were made simultaneously with three periods of Iranian history. Together, they provoke a more complex conversation about Iran and the United States than has been possible in decades past. Contemporary political context intersects with the blank spaces of historical context that have typified the American encounter with Iran the enemy.

Image: Shirin Neshat, Rebellious Silence, 2004. Via Signs Journal.