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Shirin Neshat born March 26, 1957 is an Iranian visual artist who lives in New York City. She is known primarily for her work in film, video and photography She is the fourth of five children of wealthy parents, brought up in the religious town of Qazvin in north-western Iran. Neshat's father was a physician and her mother a homemaker. Neshat has stated about her father, “He fantasized about the west, romanticized the west, and slowly rejected all of his own values; both my parents did. What happened, I think, was that their identity slowly dissolved, they exchanged it for comfort. It served their class”. As a part of Neshat’s “Westernization” she was enrolled in a Catholic boarding school in Tehran. Through her father’s acceptance of Western ideologies came an acceptance of a form of western feminism. Neshat’s father encouraged each of his daughters to “be an individual, to take risks, to learn, to see the world", and he sent his daughters as well as his sons to college to receive their higher education. Through her grandparents, her mother's parents, Neshat learnt traditional religious values. Neshat left Iran to study art in Los Angeles at about the time that the Iranian Revolution occurred. About a year after the revolution, Neshat moved to the San Francisco Bay area and began studying at Dominican College. Eventually, she enrolled in UC Berkeley and completed her BA, MA and MFA. After graduating school, she moved to New York and married a Korean curator, Kyong Park, who was the director and founder ofStorefront for Art and Architecture, a non-profit organization. Neshat helped Park run the Storefront, where she was exposed to many different ideologies and it would become a place where she received a much needed experience with and exposure to concepts that would later become integral to her artwork. During this time, she did not make any serious attempts at creating art, and the few attempts were subsequently destroyed. In 1990, she returned to Iran. "It was probably one of the most shocking experiences that I have ever had. The difference between what I had remembered from the Iranian culture and what I was witnessing was enormous. The change was both frightening and exciting; I had never been in a country that was so ideologically based. Most noticeable, of course, was the change in people's physical appearance and public behavior. Neshat’s earliest works were photographs, such as the Unveiling (1993) and Women of Allah (1993–97) series, which explore notions of femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in her home country. As a way of coping with the discrepancy between the culture that she was experiencing and that of the pre-revolution Iran in which she was raised, she began her first mature body of work, the Women of Allah series, portraits of women entirely overlaid by Persian calligraphy. Her work refers to the social, cultural and religious codes of Muslim societies and the complexity of certain oppositions, such as man and woman. Neshat often emphasizes this theme showing two or more coordinated films concurrently, creating stark visual contrasts through motifs such as light and dark, black and white, male and female. Neshat has also made more traditional narrative short films, such as Zarin. The work of Neshat addresses the social, political and psychological dimensions of women's experience in contemporary Islamic societies. Although Neshat actively resists stereotypical representations of Islam, her artistic objectives are not explicitly polemical. Rather, her work recognizes the complex intellectual and religious forces shaping the identity of Muslim women throughout the world. Using Persian poetry and calligraphy she examined concepts such as martyrdom, the space of exile, the issues of identity and femininity. In 2001-02, Neshat collaborated with singer Sussan Deyhim and created Logic of the Birds, which was produced by curator and art historian RoseLee Goldberg. The full length multimedia production premiered at the Lincoln Center Summer Festival in 2002 and toured to the Walker Art Institute in Minneapolis and to Artangel in London. In this collaboration, as well as her other projects that incorporate music, Neshat uses sound to help create an emotionally evocative and beautiful piece that will resonate with viewers of both Eastern and Western cultures. In an interview with Bomb magazine in 2000, Neshat revealed, "Music becomes the soul, the personal, the intuitive, and neutralizes the sociopolitical aspects of the work. This combination of image and music is meant to create an experience that moves the audience." Neshat was profiled in The New Yorker magazine on October 22, 2007. When Neshat first came to use film, she was influenced by the work of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. She directed several videos, among them Anchorage (1996) and, projected on two opposing walls: Shadow under the Web (1997), Turbulent (1998), Rapture(1999) and Soliloquy (1999). Neshat's recognition became more international in 1999, when she won the International Award of the XLVIII Venice Biennale with Turbulent and Rapture, a project involving almost 250 extras and produced by the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont which met with critical and public success after its worldwide avant-première at the Art Institute of Chicago in May 1999. WithRapture, Neshat tried for the first time to make pure photography with the intent of creating an aesthetic, poetic, and emotional shock.Games of Desire, a video and still-photography piece, was displayed between September 3 and October 3 at the Gladstone Gallery in Brussels before moving in November to the Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont in Paris. The film, which is based in Laos, centers on a small group of elderly people who sing folk songs with sexual lyrics - a practice which had been nearing obsolescence. In 2009 she won the Silver Lion for best director at the 66th Venice Film Festival for her directional debut Women Without Men, based on Shahrnush Parsipur's novel of the same name. She said about the movie: "This has been a labour of love for six years. This film speaks to the world and to my country. The film examines the 1953 British-American backed coup, which supplanted Iran's democratically elected government with a monarchy. In July 2009 Neshat took part in a three-day hunger strike at the United Nations Headquarters in New York in protest of the 2009 Iranian presidential election. Works: • Turbulent, 1998. Two channel video/audio installation. • Rapture, 1999. Two channel video/audio installation. • Soliloquy, 1999. Color video/audio installation with artist as the protagonist. • Fervor, 2000. Two channel video/audio installation. • Passage, 2001. Single channel video/audio installation. • Logic of the Birds, 2002. Multi-media Performance. • Tooba, 2002. Two channel video/audio installation based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel Women Without Men. • Mahdokht, 2004. Three channel video/audio installation. • Zarin, 2005. Single channel video/audio installation. • Munis, 2008. Color video/audio installation based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel Women Without Men. • Faezeh, 2008. Color video/audio installation based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel Women Without Men. • Possession, 2009. Black & white video/audio installation. • Women Without Men, 2009. Feature film based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel Women Without Men.