“I think it’s so important for young people to think about the world, the bigger picture.” The renowned Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat here encourages young artists to be socially conscious and open to what goes on beyond the walls of their home: “Otherwise you make work that other people don’t need to look at, because it doesn’t really have a place beyond a very small narcissistic conversation.”
Neshat feels that in the Western culture we are encouraged to lead a life centred on individual ideas and interests. She finds this emphasis on self-interest worrisome and considers America, where she resides, a very capitalistic and individualistic society, where people are basically told to just look after themselves: “I think life could be more meaningful if we find the compassion to open our minds and our eyes to other people’s issues and see if we can expand our love and care for people beyond our immediate family.” Furthermore, as an artist, you need to lead the way, to open yourself to the experience of struggle and to be aware of art as one of the most powerful forms of communication – and not let yourself be diminished to “entertainers and people who make great decorations for people’s walls.”
Shirin Neshat (b.1957) is an Iranian visual artist, known primarily for her work in film, video and photography. Neshat gained international prominence in 1995 with her iconic series of black and white, calligraphy-overlaid photographs ‘Women of Allah’, and broke new ground winning the Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale (1999) for her video installation ‘Turbulent’ and the Silver Lion at the International Venice Film Festival (2009) for directing ‘Women Without Men’. Among other works are ‘Soliloquy’ (1999), ‘Possession’ (2009), ‘Illusions & Mirrors’ (2013) and ‘Looking for Oum Kulthum’ (2017). Neshat has won prestigious awards such as the International Award of the XLVIII Venice Biennale (1999), the Grand Prix at the Kwangju Biennale (2000) and Hiroshima Freedom Prize from the Hiroshima City Museum of Art (2005). Solo exhibitions include shows at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City, Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Art Insti-tute of Chicago and Serpentine Gallery in London. She lives and works in New York City.
Shirin Neshat was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen, Denmark in connection with the exhibition ‘Shirin Neshat, Looking for Oum Kulthum’ in March 2018.
Supported by Nordea-fonden
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