Shirin Neshat: Fervor

Sep 07, 2018 — Jan 19, 2019

Shirin Neshat creates art with a cosmopolitan feel that is as moving as it is relatable. Born in Iran, she was pursuing her education in the United States during the Islamic Revolution of 1979. The revolution prevented her from returning home for nearly 20 years and when she did, Iran was entirely transformed. The shift from a Persian culture to an Islamic one was jarring for Neshat as she had no real connection to the transition. During her trip home she resolved to create artwork as a means of understanding this cultural shift, and as a way of creating a sense of closeness to her homeland. Ironically, her artwork is the reason Neshat is no longer welcome in Iran.

Filmed in Morocco in 2000, Fervor is a two-channel video that takes place in an allegorical Iran. The video features a female protagonist on one screen and a male protagonist on the other. They pass on foot in route to a gathering where a mullah preaches to a segregated crowd about being chaste. The two characters give each other sideways glances and do not act on their clearly amorous desires. Their love remains unrequited, their relationship unresolved. This understated work of art is titillating and frustrating, revealing Neshat’s layered intentions. She is specifically interested in the problematic position of concepts like temptation, sexuality, and desire in the Middle East, but is more broadly interested in the tension created between individuals and the social order.

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