Curtains in the Breeze:Women of Allah by Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat

This blog has primarily featured the visualisations of information in advocacy campaigns but what about the work of artists that use different emotional and visual tactics to move and influence the way we think about an issue? The work of Iranian-American artist, Shirin Neshat is a good example of how this happens.

When you watch a video like Turbulent by Shirin Neshat, or the photographs in her series Women of Allah, many things begin to happen at once. Your senses are overwhelmed by the stark, riveting forms her work presents, and the ideas you've had about femininity, and femininity in Iran in particular, start to collapse a little bit. Primarily composed of black and white portraits of the artist herself and other women and children, either singly or in groups, usually in chadors, with guns, calligraphy, poetry, newsprint and brief interludes of colour, Women of Allah suggests provocative, unusual ideas about femininity; unusual because we're so bombarded with the same set of narrow representations of what femininity is, and 'veiled femininity' in particular.

With an emotional response to the significant changes - especially for women - in her native Iran after the Revolution, and the First Gulf War, Neshat brings together ideas of spirituality, violence, innocence, strength, the erotic, the 'inner courtyard' of the chador, silence, grief through the series. You're left wondering at the silent realms of women's experience, and wandering through a new language of feeling.

Go through Neshat's work and tell us what speaks to you (you can post comments below).

Shirin Neshat: Women of Allah (1993-1997)