Shirin Neshat

Decent Essays
Juxtaposition in Shirin Neshat’s Women of Allah Series
Shirin Neshat is a female Iranian artist born in 1957, she left Iran when she was only 17 years old and moved to the United States, she arrived there a few years before the 1979 revolution, during which the more secular shah was overthrown and replaced by the strict Islamic rule of Ayatollah Khomeini. This puts Neshat in an ideal position to understand and appreciate the changes that have occurred in Iran as a result of this political change, particularly in relation to the social status of women. Neshat takes full advantage of this opportunity, and returns to Iran in 1990 to create a series of photographs known as the Women of Allah, The series embodies the struggle of Iranian women in the current day and age. The
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the self-contradicting values that Islamic women are expected to hold.
This series creates a clear contrast between these two distinct features / values that a woman is expected to hold in Islamic society. Features, such as beauty and innocence, as well as cruelty, violence and hatred. These values are expected to co-exist within the complex structure of Islam, and this work embodies the female struggle. The woman throughout the series of images seem innocent, while the calligraphy on the skin gives the viewer the feeling of a kind of elegance. Along with the violence and cruelty that we can see in the form of a loaded gun, both the gaze and the gun are aimed directly at the viewer. To meet the woman’s gaze is quite intimidating. The photographs are in black and white, this gives the photograph an aesthetic appeal and a somewhat cold edge. However, on closer inspection, the black and white highlights the juxtaposition between the contrasting ideals Iranian women are expected to live by. But, what is the meaning of this juxtaposition? It seems that Neshat is telling
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