Contemporary artist Shirin Neshat uses her complicated relationship with her faith and culture in order to develop photographs, activity pictures, and also music, that pays tribute to her resentment that the clichéd image of Muslim women. She motive is no to justification the Muslim culture in stimulate to malfunction the stereotypical beliefs of the Westerners. Instead, she pressures the audience come rethink what lock believe, or have actually been conditioned by society to it is in the norm by conveying these idealized misconceptions.(Smith 60) Rebellious silence, a piece from the Women the Allah collection illustrates the methods in i m sorry Neshat examines the complexities that women’s identities in the Middle east through the lens that Western representations of Muslim women.

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Shirin Neshat was born in 1957, Qazvin, Iran, however she came to the United says at the period of seventeen, just a couple of years prior to the Iranian revolution. She studied painting at the college of California in ~ Berkeley. ~ earning she masters in well Arts, she relocated to brand-new York and also began functioning at Storefront, a non-profit art and architecture collection in Soho. Though trained together a painter, Neshat chose photography since she felt the her topic matter forced a feeling of realism. She was fascinated by photojournalism and she thought the ladies of Allah series required an authentic feeling not possible with painting. –(Dannawi 19).

Rebellious Silence is a picture that portrays a mrs in a timeless chador along with the barrel the a rifle the bisects a upright seam on the image. The enrolled Farsi poem on her face acts as a niqab. The niqab is a veil the covers the woman’s face, leaving a small opening because that the eyes. The city serves together a statements of the woman’s beliefs, express the mandatory law to wear the veil in public throughout the Iran revolutionary war, if her determined gaze honors the bravery and conviction the Muslim women who were militarized in the war. –(Dannawi 23).

Prior to the revolution, Iran had actually been rule by the shaman (Mohammad Reza Pahlavi), who took power in 1941 during the second World War. His dictatorship was well-known for the violent repression of politics and religious freedom, but additionally for that is modernization that the nation along Western cultural models. The reigned till 1979, when the Persian monarchy was toppled by revolutionaries that disliked the repressive nature that his regime and disapproved of the socioeconomic benefits of particular classes in ~ the cost of others. His opening regime at some point led come his fall directed by details Islamic leaders such together the prominent Ayatollah Khomeini (Ghasemi).

Khomeini’s outspoken opposition to the pro-Western program of the Shah raised his condition as nationwide hero for the human being of Iran. Khomeini enforced the ideas of the Muslims throughout the country, leaving tiny to no space between government and also religion. As a result, every solitary Iranian woman, consisting of those who as soon as wore miniskirts and also danced follow me to the recent songs originating native the Westerners, were forbidden indigenous leaving their homes unless they had the “chador” draped top top them. (Ayatollah). This suggests that also though the score of the change was to fall an oppressive ruler, Iran when again came to be a nation that was under the dictatorship the a Shah.

The Women that Allah series was developed soon after ~ the artist’s first visit to Iran, since her emigration to the us ten years earlier. The series questions the duty of Muslim Women and the female body in relation to the violence they encountered transparent the revolution. Neshat uses certain iconography concepts such as the veil, text, guns, and the hardened gaze to imply contradictory concepts such as repression, submission, resistance and aggression. (Smith 61). She additionally explores various philosophical and ideological elements of the transformation including the concept of “martyrdom,” i beg your pardon had become most well-known in Iran because the removed of the shah. (Dabashi 75) in ~ heart, each photo conceptually and also visually proposes the paradoxical reality of just how ideas around religion, violence, and also politics intersect in Islamic practice; and how a common martyr appears to stand close to the borders of love, devotion, faith, and self-sacrifice, top top the one hand, and also hate, cruelty, violence and also ultimately fatality on the other. The most recognizable icon embraced by Neshat is the veil.

The powerful distorted image of the veiled woman has actually been deeply ingrained in the west mind. Together the most defining feature the the Islamic world. The niqab or veil, has become a prize of repression to Westerners. Yet, Neshat incorporates it into her work in bespeak to demonstrate her society through she photographs. She declared in an interview, “you can study the culture by studying the women: the means they dress, the way their own society changes, the method they need to wear the chador. (Dannawi 22)

The veiled or chador-clad females in Neshat’s photographs are about Iranian ladies in relation to the revolution, and how the transformation not only adjusted society, but impacted women’s behavior. The veil conceals the visible body, yet it additionally reveals the plenty of facets that a Muslim Iranian woman, such as the gaze. Neshat determined to depict her women this means because she challenges those preconceived views by juxtaposing the females with weapons evoking a feeling of power and also confidence. (Dannawi 22). Thus, the woman represents the capability for ladies to manage their very own lives, external of the western intervention.

The hardened stare in Rebellious Silence has come to be a fee signifier that power and authority. Women’s bodies are generally paraded together objects the desire in advertising, and film, obtainable to be looked at without consequence. Numerous feminist artists consisting of Neshat have used the activity of “gazing back” together a way to free the female body from this objectification. The gaze, here, might additionally reflect exotic fantasies the the East. In Orientalist painting (eighteenth and nineteenth century), east women space often portrayed nude, surrounding by richly colored and patterned textiles and also decorations; women space envisaged among other beautiful objects that can be possessed. In Neshat’s images, women return the gaze, breaking complimentary from century of subservience to male or european desire.(Dannawi 23)

Another icon that Neshat uses in her photographs is the “text”. Throughout the Women that Allah series, Shirin Neshat employs the use of direct calligraphic text on her photographs to create a pure, sensual intuitive presence and also a product ornament that suggests meaning. Westerners who perform not check out Farsi may understand the calligraphy as an aesthetic signifier, a recommendation to the prestige of message in the long background of Islamic art. (Dabashi 78) Yet, most of the texts room transcriptions the poetry and other writings by women that expressed lot of viewpoints and also date both before and after the Revolution. “The written text is the voice of the photograph,” Neshat says, “It division the silence of the still mrs in the portrait”. (Dabashi 78) several of the messages that Neshat decided are feminist in nature. However, in Rebellious Silence, the script that runs throughout the artist’s challenge is from Tahereh Saffarzadeh’s poem “Allegiance with Wakefulness.” The excerpt listed below illustrates just how Neshat honors the conviction and bravery the martyrdom.

O, you martyr,

hold my hands

With her hands

Cut from earthly means

Hold mine hands,

I am her poet.

With one inflicted body.

I’ve involved be v you

and on the promised day,

We shall rise again.

(Babaie 52)

Even despite Neshat’s score in these collection is come deconstruct west perceptions that Islamic women, she represents her personalities as the generic Muslim woman. The is challenging,-especially for the west observer whose photo of the Muslim people is generally based no on experience, but on media clichés. Neshat does not replace existing stereotypes with an ext “accurate” representations; instead, she uncovers the multiplicity of possible meanings embedded in her work. (Dannawi 19)

Neshat has come to be a duty model not just for Muslim young girls but likewise others approximately the world who feeling the require to protect their society and religion. As an outspoken feminist and also progressive artist, Neshat is mindful that it would certainly be attention to present her work in conservative modern Iran, and also she has actually been living in exile in the unified States due to the fact that the 1990s. Because that audiences in the West, the females of Allah series has allowed a an ext nuanced contemplation of common stereotypes and also assumptions around Muslim women, and serves to an obstacle the suppression of mrs voices in any community.(Smith 67)


“Ayatollah Khomeini.” BBC, n.d. sirhenryjones-museums.org. .Babaie, Sussan, Rebecca R. Hart, Nancy Princenthal, and also Shirin Neshat. “Shirin Neshat.” Detroit: Detroit academy of Arts, 2013. Print.Dabashi, Hamid, RoseLee Goldberg, Giorgio Verzotti, and Shirin Neshat. “Shirin Neshat.” Milan: Charta, 2002. PrintDannawi, Heyam. “Women in black Shirin Neshat’s photos of Veiled Revolutionaries”. Thesis. Mercer Univeristy, 2000. Missouri: ProQuest, 2008. Print.Ghasemi Shapour. “History that Iran: Pahlavi Dynasty.

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” background of Iran: Pahlavi Dynasty. Iran room Society, n.d. sirhenryjones-museums.org. 12 July 2016. .Smith, Elizabeth A. “Challenging Representation: Lalla Essaydi, Shirin Neshat, and Shadi Ghadirian.” Thesis. Illinois State University, 2015. Missouri: ProQuest, 2015. Print.