Dirimart is to host Shirin Neshat's exhibition, curated by Heinz Peter Schwerfel and which includes the "Mourners" titled new works from her The Book of Kings series, alongside the video installations Turbulent (1998), Rapture (1999), and OverRuled (2012). The exhibition will be held at Dirimart's gallery in Nişantaşı and Istanbul Bilgi University's Santralistanbul exhibition area between May 10 - June 15.
Shirin Neshat's Mourners titled works from her The Book of Kings series, which is inspired by the epic Shahnameh from Ferdowsi (940-1020), are based on portraits of individuals residing in the slums of Cairo, where the promise of freedom and democracy following the uprising against the Mubarak regime failed to materialize. The "Mourners" titled part of the series, which before included "Villains," "Patriots," and "Masses", will be exclusively premiered at Dirimart.
Inscribed with Persian handwritings, the artist's black and white portraits confront the viewer with human bodies who face a struggle against hegemonism in this overly politicized region that has been marked by covert violence and suppression. As the exhibition curator Heinz Peter Schwerfel noted "This art, beyond the political engagement of Iran's Green Movement and the mystique of the Arab Spring, is shaped by two opposing rhetorical systems that currently feud with each other on a global scale."
Neshat's Turbulent (1998) and Rapture (1999) video installations use two opposite facing monitors each. One of Turbulent’s monitors shows a singing man facing the viewer while the other shows the back of a woman staring at an empty amphitheatre. The man sings a traditional Persian song and the woman makes improvised sounds, creating a musical metaphor for social gender roles and cultural power.
Rapture's monitors show the man and woman visually apart, polarizing them and highlighting the inequality of social genders that are present in such a uniform social context. Neshat's lyrical video displays a patriarchal and fundamentalist society in which social genders split the world in half.
Neshat's last video work OverRuled (2012) is the recording of a stage performance at the New Yorker Festival. OverRuled starts in a courthouse where an ordinary hearing is conducted, with the actors positioned in a fashion reminding of the Last Supper. The judge looks like a priest and oversees the court committee that discusses the fate of a man and woman who are positioned on the left and right sides of the frame. The music originates from the man, elevating him to a position of authority, while the woman declares her love by reciting verses of Rumi. The text is inspired by the historical trail of Mansur Al-Hallaj, who was publicly sentenced to death for alleged heresy in the 10th century.
The Iranian artist and director Shirin Neshat works and lives in New York. Neshat's solo exhibitions have been held in such galleries and museums like the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens (Greece); Stedelijik Museum, Amsterdam (Holland); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Leon (Spain); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (Germany); Musee d’Art Contemporain de Montreal, Montreal (Canada); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (USA); Castello di Rivoli, Torino (Italy); and the Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna (Austria). The 4th Istanbul Biennale "Orient-ation" (1995) is one of the many international organizations Neshat participated in. Shirin is the recipient of the Golden Lion Award at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999) and the Lillian Gish Prize (2006). Neshat's first feature length film "Women Without Men" received the Silver Lion Award at the 66th Venice International Film Festival (2009).