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Shirin Neshat’s first solo exhibition in Cape Town brings together a video installation Sarah, a photographic still from Roja and Offerings, a series of recent photographic-based works, which through different means incorporate Neshat’s interest in the interior lives of women.


Sarah and Roja are part of a trilogy of video installations titled Dreamers, which explore the world of women’s dreams. In many ways, the characters and their dreamy narratives are projections of the artist in which she reflects on some of her own personal nightmares.

Sarah still

Sarah, 2016 

Single-channel video installation

12 minutes 55 seconds

Edition of 6

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The single channel film Sarah is, according to Neshat, “about the unfolding journey of a woman as she recollects and breathes annihilation, as she faces residues of destruction, violence, genocide, and mortality in a state of dream. Sarah’s anxieties and fears at last force her to plunge into imagining her own death.” While not restricted to any particular time or place, the work is intended to reference a collective sense of anxiety and fear, part of the global experience in a world fraught with conflict. 

Neshat says: “In my opinion, rational interpretations of dreams never seem to properly capture their true meanings and significance within the human psyche. So Sarah is an effort to make sense of the more subliminal emotional and psychic universe that lives deep inside of us, but is difficult to explain through words.”

 

“I have been haunted by the power of dreams for years” says Neshat, “I am fascinated by how in a state of dream, the boundaries in between madness and sanity, reality and fiction, conscious and subconscious are blurred and broken”. 

Dreamers is based on aspects of the artist's own dreams. Roja’s character and dilemma in many ways resembles hers: the fear of the ‘stranger’ and the ‘strange land,’ and desire for a reunion with ‘home’ with ‘mother,’ with the ‘motherland’ that seems welcoming at first but becomes terrifying and demonic in the end. Themes of ‘flight’ and ‘levitation’, implying freedom and ecstasy, is a significant aspect of the Roja series that is a recurring theme in Neshat’s work.

Roja


Untitled, from Roja Series, 2016
Silver gelatin print
Work: 101.6 x 152.4 cm (40 x 60 in)
Frame: 104.1 x 154.9 x 5.7 cm (41 x 61 x 2.2 in)
Edition of 5

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“I have been haunted by the power of dreams for years” says
Neshat, “I am fascinated by how in a state of dream, the
boundaries in between madness and sanity, reality and fiction,
conscious and subconscious are blurred and broken”. Dreamers,
her 2016 solo exhibition at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, was
based on aspects of the artist’s own dreams and featured Roja
and Sarah, the second and third films in a trilogy of film
installations, which began with Illusions and Mirrors in 2013.
Roja’s character and dilemma in many ways resembles hers: the
fear of the ‘stranger’ and the ‘strange land,’ and desire for a
reunion with ‘home’ with ‘mother,’ with the ‘motherland’ that
seems welcoming at first but becomes terrifying and demonic in
the end. Themes of ‘flight’ and ‘levitation’, implying freedom and
ecstasy, is a significant aspect of the Roja video that is a
recurring theme in Neshat’s work.
 

Offerings

Offerings, 2019

Silver gelatin print and ink

Image: 76.2 x 61 cm ( 30 x 24 in)

Work: 80 x 63.5 cm (31.5 x 25 in)

Edition of 5

Enquire

 

Neshat’s recent Offerings series stem from a wine label she designed in 2019 for the Ornellaia Wine Estate. For these works, Neshat employs her trademark use of texts in delicate lines of Persian script across the skin of the people and subjects that she photographed. These images reclaim the compositional aesthetics of the series Women of Allah (1993 – 1997), one of the most famous bodies of work by Neshat that marks the beginning of her reflection on the complexity of Islamic culture and its traditions in relation to female identity. The poetry written on the hands in this series is taken from the 11th century Persian Poet Omar Khayyam.

Offerings

Offerings, 2019

Silver gelatin print and ink

Image: 76.2 x 61 cm ( 30 x 24 in)

Work: 80 x 63.5 cm (31.5 x 25 in)

Edition of 5

Enquire

Offerings

Offerings, 2019

Silver gelatin print and ink

Image: 76.2 x 61 cm ( 30 x 24 in)

Work: 80 x 63.5 cm (31.5 x 25 in)

Edition of 5

Enquire 

Offerings

Offerings, 2019

Silver gelatin print and ink

Image: 76.2 x 61 cm ( 30 x 24 in)

Work: 80 x 63.5 cm (31.5 x 25 in)

Edition of 5

Enquire

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