YARAT will organize the “Shirin Neshat: The Home of My Eyes” exhibition to mark the opening of YARAT Contemporary Art Centre in Baku on March 24.
The exhibition’s focus is a major new commission, produced following the artist’s time in Azerbaijan. The exhibition also includes two of Neshat’s earlier works, the seminal video installations Soliloquy (1999) and Passage (2001) and is guest curated by Dina Nasser Khadivi.
Also marking the opening is an exhibition from YARAT’s permanent collection, with work by artists from the Caucasus, Central Asia and neighbouring countries alongside work by international artists whose work has a resonance with Azerbaijan. The collection itself has been built over the past three years and will continue to grow in part through special commissions for exhibitions at YARAT Contemporary Art Space curated by Suad Garayeva.
Shirin Neshat’s work has explored the complexities of cultural identity, gender and power to express a vision that embraces Persian traditions and contemporary concepts of individuality. In her recent photographic work, Neshat has focused on the portrait as a prism to reveal the cultural dynamics and personal histories of her subjects, exploring the narratives that can be ‘read’ in an individual.
This new commission, The Home of My Eyes (2015), builds on Neshat’s growing interest in portraiture. During time spent in Azerbaijan in 2014, Neshat photographed over 50 individuals who came from communities across the country, of ages ranging from two to eighty years old. While making the photographs Neshat asked participants a series of questions regarding their cultural identity and their concept of home. The resulting responses are written in calligraphy that overlays the portraits. The assembled images make up a monumental installation which fills two entire walls of one of the 11 metre-high exhibition galleries of YARAT Contemporary Art Centre – a converted Soviet-era naval building.
As Shirin Neshat explains; “I consider the new series of images a portrait of a country that has for so long been a crossroads for many different ethnicities, religions, and languages. This series combines 55 portraits of men and women from different generations to create a tapestry of human faces which pays tribute to the rich cultural history of Azerbaijan and its diversity.”
Shirin Neshat, an Iranian-born artist, is widely acclaimed for her powerful video installations and photographs. Neshat’s work frequently refers to the social, cultural and religious codes of societies and the dynamics of certain oppositions, creating stark visual contrasts through motifs such as light and dark, black and white and male and female.
Neshat left Iran in 1974 to study and returned to Iran for the first time in 1990 on a formative trip, which inspired groundbreaking work. Between 1993 and 1997, she produced a series of innovative black and white photographs called Women of Allah, in which she superimposed Farsi calligraphy on the hands and faces of her subjects. She became internationally recognized in 1999 when her film Turbulent won the international prize at the Venice Biennale and, in the following year, she was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London. She has received a number of prizes, including the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum, Davos 2014, the Grand prix of the Biennale in Korea 2000, and the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice International Film Festival for her first feature-length film Women Without Men, 2008.
Neshat’s work has been shown worldwide in group and solo exhibitions, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, 2013; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, 2013; Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2011; the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 2006; Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, 2002; National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, 2001; Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, 2000; and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, 1998. She has participated in major biennials including Venice, Sydney, Johannesburg, Istanbul and the Whitney Biennial. She has also participated in film festivals including the Chicago International Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.
Shirin Neshat lives and works in New York.