I am honored, privileged and proud that Shirin Neshat is having a solo retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC entitled “Facing History”. You might ask why. The reason is that as an Iranian-American woman I am overjoyed that her art is being introduced to a group of citizens that might not otherwise have access to her work if it were not shown in the Nation’s capital as part of the Smithsonian Institution. Further, an Iranian-American artist is being given such prominence in the nation’s capital, which is a credit to Melissa Chiu the Director of the Hirshhorn who selected Shirin Neshat for her first exhibition as the new director.
The multi-dimensional and humble Shirin Neshat captivates us with her honest & haunting photographs that to me show a polarization of woman dealing with religion, freedom and their basic human rights. Her videos displayed are spellbinding transporting one to a place of deep thought and internal soul searching. I walked the exhibit the night of the Gala and remembered the time of the revolution in Iran in 1979 and saw how her photographs brought so many of the traumatic and jarring events of that era back to my psyche. Conflicted regarding that time in history, I am still experiencing the consequences of that revolution on my own family three decades later.
The gala was a celebration for me as my company Travel Document Systems is a sponsor and I was proud of that fact, but internally I was mourning for all those who had gone through so much turmoil just trying to live their daily lives.
I hope that through this exhibit and the work of Shirin Neshat all who view her work can see the trauma that so many, including my own family, have gone through as a result of revolution, war and being stripped of basic human rights — and also the resilience they have demonstrated to combat such obstacles and move on.
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