by Gelare Khoshgozaran
The YouTube video of Shirin Neshat’s TED Talk has by now been shared numerous times by a large number of Iranian Facebook users.
Shortly after the video was released on Youtube, a similar video of a TEDx Talk by another Iranian woman artist, Morehshin Allahyari, became available. The latter, though obviously not getting anywhere near as many hits as Neshat’s, was soon shared by users on social media websites and became very popular amongst the similar Facebook users or TED Talks fans.
Shirin Neshat, a woman in her fifties, dressed in a black outfit donning her signature hairstyle and facial makeup appeared on the TED stage to tell her “story” to the audience and listeners. Morehshin, on the other hand, half the age of Neshat, in her colorful outfit and with her pinkish hair, a constant smile on her face and a tone that was a mixture of irony, sarcasm and bitterness, was talking about the social role of art as a potential medium to bridge two countries at conflict, Iran and the United States.
After watching both of these videos, what became apparent in the concerns of these two Iranian women artists during their talks was the challenge of the exiled artist in attempting to alter the image of Iran and Iranians, especially Iranian women, in the eyes of the West. The expressed dissatisfaction and frustration was indicative of the urge to create and present a new image of, in Allahyari’s words, “what Iran, truly, is and is not”.
* The phrase literally meaning “Oh, Shining Moon of Bani-Hashim”, is calling the name of Abolfazl, a famously courageous Shia Muslim martyr in the Battle of Karbala. The use of this phrase is at the times of feeling great awe or fear.
Via CVAD New Media Art Blog (University of North Texas) and W.O.R.D.S