Through her position as an Iranian artist based in New York, Shirin Neshat has managed to give a long-term consideration to the complexities regarding the political position of women in Muslim states. There is a nuanced reflection in her work of the ideological struggle between Islam and the secular world – and her audience, as well as her importance, grow ever steadily: her first feature film, Women Without Men (2009), on the subject of the 1953 Iranian coup, won the Silver Lion at Cannes, and its release coincided with the election protests in that country.
Neshat gave one of the widely seen TED (‘ideas worth spreading’) talks at the end of last year, on the subject of this ‘cry for democracy’ from Iran, and she has been creating a series of seasonal films this year for The New York Times website: Spring and Summer so far, and they have both obliquely focused on the Arab Spring. This month will see Neshat return to Performa, realising a major new commission, Overruled. This courtroom drama, featuring projections and live performers, tackles the subject of female censorship in Iran, and will mark a decade since RoseLee Goldberg commissioned her to make Logic of the Birds for Performa, in 2001.