Shameless-1997

Ink on silver gelatin print

Untitled (from Rapture Series)1999

Human models, Photograph by Shirin Neshat

I am Its Secret-1993

Human model, photograph by Plauto

Mystified-1997

Ink on silver gelatin print

Innocent Memories-1995

Ink on silver gelatin print

“Iran underwent a cataclysmic transformation: an Islamic revolution overthrew the shah, and in its aftermath the new regime of the fundamentalist Ayatollah Khomeini reasserted control over public and private behavior…One of the most visible changes that Neshat saw in Iran was that women everywhere now wore the head-to-toe black chador, the loose robe and veil traditionally worn by women in Iran, which had been abolished in 1936. Women in chadors became an iconic presence in Neshat’s art.”

Robertson, Jean, and Craig McDaniel. Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 2005. Print.

These images are particularly ambiguous because on one hand they can be interpreted by some as a woman’s protest against the subjugation women in strict Islamist countries through the use of writing on their faces and standing in front of a microphone, while on the other hand the women can be interpreted as fervent supporters of the Iranian Revolution and even willing to die for it as martyrs (as is interpreted in the textbook). This ambiguity is made more complex by Neshat’s own admission that there are inherent contradictions in her works.

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