Shirin Neshat Defies Iranian Stereotypes and Regime in Fervor and Turbulent

06/08/17
Boca Raton Museum of Art

Two dual-channel films on view Aug. 8–Oct. 22, 2017.

“Art is our weapon. Culture is a form of resistance.” –Shirin Neshat

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat finds the politics of her country inescapable, a position she both laments and embraces in her work. Throughout her photography and films, Neshat balances a demand for respect from the western world for her culture and her deep criticism of Iran’s government and treatment of women. The Boca Raton Museum of Art shows two of Neshat’s films, Fervor and Turbulent in a solo exhibition on view August 8th through October 22nd, 2017.

Neshat was born in Iran in 1957. She came to United States in 1975 but chose to remain in New York City after the Iranian Revolution (1978-1979). As an internationally celebrated artist known for her artistic and allegorical interpretations of Iranian culture and history, particularly from the point of view of women, concerns for her safety under the current regime have kept Neshat from visiting her native country since 1996.

“Artists in exile,” Neshat says in the opening of a 2010 TED Talk, “an artist like myself, finds herself in the position of being a speaker for her people, even though I have no access to my country.”

Speaking, or lack thereof, is a nexus between the two films on view at the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Neshat’s two-channel video Turbulent (1998) focuses on gender relationships in Iran through music and performance. Despite a rich tradition of female performers in Iran, in the current extreme interpretation of Shi’ite law women are not allowed to sing in public. In this video a man performs before an audience while a woman sings a wordless song alone.  Fervor (2000) similarly employs two screens to show the stories of a man and woman in the same place at the same time, but unable to connect in the midst of a revolutionary Iranian culture with a negative view of love.

“Unfortunately this showcase of social injustice in Iranian culture remains as timely as ever,” museum curator Kathleen Gocharov says. “But it also highlights how artists are increasingly using new mediums to shed light and change perceptions about important issues worldwide.”

Related Events

Midsummer Party (A Boca Chamber Festival Days Event)
Monday, August 7 / 6:00–8:00 pm
Tickets: $25 available at www.bocamuseum.org/midsummer 
Celebrate the opening of four new exhibitions: Patricia Nix: American Baroque; Deep Line Drawings by Carlos Luna; Shirin Neshat: Fervor and Turbulent; and Photography from the Bequest of Isadore and Kelly Friedman at our annual Midsummer Party. Delicious bites are generously provided by E&M Culinary, Events & Creative.

Boca Talk
Karen Mathews, Ph.D.: Gendered Identities and Cultural Alienation in Contemporary Iranian Photography
Sunday, Sep. 10 / 3:00–4:00 pm
Seating is limited. Tickets: $10, available at www.bocamuseum.org/events 
Dr. Karen Mathews, Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Miami, addresses how the photographs of Iranian female artists attempt to navigate unstable cultural terrain defined by a number of polar opposites. Dr. Mathews investigates the work of Shirin Neshat as well as a younger generation of Iranian female photographers in order to illuminate the central role that gender plays in identity formation in Iran today. She explores themes such as home vs. exile, tradition vs. modernity, masculine vs. feminine, and East vs. West.


Shirin Neshat: Fervor and Turbulent is made possible by the Museum’s Exhibition Leadership Fund. Additional support is provided in part by the City of Boca Raton; the Board of County Commissioners, the Tourist Development Council and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County; the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Additional support is generously provided by our Members and Donors.

Please contact Kelsey Johnson at kjohnson [at] bocamuseum.org for interviews with Curator of Contemporary Art Kathleen Goncharov, or Museum Executive Director Irvin Lippman and high-res images.