Shirin Neshat, Iranian Expat

The prolific Iranian artist, Shirin Neshat, released two recent films: Sara and Roja (2016) to complete the Dreamers trilogy. The first installment was Illusion and Mirrors (2013) featuring Natalie Portman. Departing from the use of experienced actresses, these last films feature Iranian women who had never acted prior.

The semi-autobographical films portray the Iranian women as vulnerable and strong.

The style is best described as hallucinatory, hearkening to the low-fi, grainy surrealist genre, Neshat utilizing the researched techniques of Man Ray and Luis Buñuel.

Neshat’s work explores the convergence of the psychological and political in an individual woman. Her work gives rise to a feminine, complex voice, let’s Neshat self-authorship exist in a culturally hybrid, displaced state of being. The feature film with Portman invites a more psychological read of the woman character. The latter implements the actresses in a more sculptural mode, as Neshat has typically situated their bodies within compositions in the past, raising questions about the gaze we turn upon women.



Jansen, Charlotte. “In Johannesburg, Shirin Neshat’s New Videos Conjure the Power of Dreams.”Artsy. 06 Aug 2016.


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