An interview of Shirine Neshat on her awar winning movie "Women Without Men"
filmmaker / Brandon Harris
24-May-2010 (one comment)

Shirin Neshat doesn’t shy away from complexity. Her internationally lauded photography and video installation work takes as its primary subject matter the epistemology that informs how we view Muslim women and the real world forces which shape there lived experiences. She challenges stereotypes and received knowledge in all of her works, a quality that has not gone unnoticed by the international art world. A pair of major installations in the late 1990’s, Turbulent (1998) and Rapture (1999), both of which received prizes at the Biennial of Venice, long ago cemented her place as one of the world’s most compelling visuals artists. That claim is only strengthened by her feature directorial debut Women Without Men.

Based very loosely on a novel by Shahrnoush Parsipour, the film tracks the lives of four disparate but loosely connected Iranian women who are collectively indicative of Tehran’s multilayered class system. Set during the fateful, tragic summer of 1953, the American backed coup d’etat which ousted democratically elected leader Mohammad Mosaddegh unfolds in the streets and in the narrative’s background. We are treated to no simple history lesson however; this is a sumptuous and melancholy glimpse at the inner lives four women in peril, each of whom resists the encroaching political and religious tyranny in their own desperate ways. As misogyny manifests itself in the clothing of religious devotion a... >>>

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In and art work, it should

by benross on

In and art work, it should normally be irrelevant what political message it carries. But we are not in a 'normal' situation and the proof is that Shirin Neshat in this interview, had to extensively delve in the historic background of the story. Considering that her political mentor on these issues was apparently Mr. Dabaashi, she came out with a pretty good description of the era against all odds.   One point however, which is important to note, is that anti-Americanism was not a social byproduct of 1953 events. That anti-Americanism that she refers to, existed before 1953 coup and was only propagated by communists and it was withheld essentially during all period of cold war and after that. Iranian people in general had no negative impression about U.S before and after the coup. It was just the communists holding the hatred and it was not related to the coup.   The other, more general sentiment of resentment, was a long standing anti-colonialism, anti-western and anti-modernity sentiment which only through strategic alliance of the Shah and U.S, and his dictatorship, conveniently was canalized toward U.S in the eve of the Islamic revolution.   A portrait of well-off, urban intelligentsia of that period without distinguishing these two phenomenon is not capable of providing a historical perspective for better understanding what went wrong afterward.