In 2002 I was fortunate to view, on two occasions, the photographs and video works of Iranian exile Shirin Neshat. I was stunned by her artistry and the mystery and clarity of her images. I have thought about these works many times the past eight years, and stayed alert to her activities.
Last week her first feature film, Women Without Men, screened at the Walker Art Center, followed by a discussion with Ms. Neshat, as well as a brief Q & A with the audience. I generally head for the exits when the Q & A starts, ever since enduring an insufferably precious affair with John Cage and pianist Margaret Leng Tan many years ago. But I was again totally enthralled with and shaken by Neshat’s vision, so I stayed for the post-film chat.
Vanity compels me to point out that my comments to Ms. Neshat, edited down to a few seconds on the use of sound and silence in the film, can be viewed at the 40:45 mark in the video of this event [click on the title atop this entry to link to the video]. Ms. Neshat, and her artistic collaborator Shoja Azari, offered excellent observations about diaspora, magical realism and the existential sense of home and homeless.
Note: The two images here are stills from the film, depicting the character Zarin in two radically different spiritual conditions.