All images this article, unless otherwise noted, stills from Shirin Neshat’s film Women Without Men. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York.

Over the last 12 years, Iranian-born Shirin Neshat (b. 1957) has produced a series of lyrical video installations that touch on such issues as gender politics, cultural self-definition and the authority of religion. Drawing on the artist’s experiences as a Middle Eastern émigré as well as more universal themes of identity, desire and social isolation, these works have garnered many honors, including, in 1999, a Venice Biennale International Golden Lion prize. Since 2003, Neshat has been engaged in an ambitious two-part video/film project based on (and titled after) the 1989 novel Women Without Men by the Iranian writer Shahrnush Parsipur.

The project’s five individual videos—Mahdokht (2004), Zarin (2005), Munis (2008),Faezeh (2008) and Farokh Legha (2008)—each of which centers on one of the female characters in the novel, have recently been brought together into a single multiroom installation. First shown in 2008 at the ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark, the composite work traveled to Faurschou Beijing Gallery in China and the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. It will go on view at the Kulturhuset in Stockholm this fall, with other venues pending. In addition, four of the videos (all except Farokh Legha) were screened at last year’s “Prospect.1 New Orleans” biennial.

While making the videos (largely sponsored by Gladstone Gallery, New York, and Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris), Neshat also worked on a soon-to-be-released feature film. The movie, which spins off from both the novel and the videos, features a dreamlike narrative that interweaves the women’s personal stories with the political upheavals of 1953 Tehran, the setting for Parsipur’s book. (Alarmed by the nationalization of Iran’s oil fields, British and American operatives that year abetted a coup against Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, reinstating the Shah.) To create the videos and the film, Neshat worked closely with her longtime collaborator, Shoja Azari, who coauthored the final script. The film version, shot in Casablanca in the Farsi language, primarily uses Iranian actors who live in Europe. It also includes a voiceover written by poet and art critic Steven Henry Madoff.

Over a series of weeks, I spoke with Neshat about the genesis of the “Women Without Men” project. We discussed its meaning to her, the challenge of translating Parsipur’s novel into moving images, the tricky task of balancing its poetic and political elements, and the differing demands of video and film.

 

ELEANOR HEARTNEY: How did this project come about?

SHIRIN NESHAT: At the time I was in Documenta in 2002, having made several video installations, I was beginning to feel very consumed by being in one big international show after another, making one work after another. I felt I needed time off to plan a project that would take a long time to realize. Then I got a call from the Sundance Institute, asking if I would consider developing a feature film project for their writers’ lab. At first, I thought I couldn’t, so I said no. Then, after Documenta, I thought why not?

EH:  What did you discover about the difference between the art and film worlds?

SN:  In the art world you are very free, but you end up making something that few people see. In the film world anybody can view your film for the small price of a ticket, but you are not as free. There is also a big difference between film producers and art dealers. Producers are extremely involved. Everything has to go through them, while an art dealer basically leaves you alone and remains uninvolved in the production.

What I wanted from the beginning was to create a feature film for theaters, in parallel with a group of related video installations for gallery and museum settings. I found out that in order to get funding for a feature film you have to have a quality script — and this was a new experience for me, since I had just storyboarded my past videos. My producers insisted that I work with the German script consultant Franz Rodenkirchen, so I started to travel back and forth to Berlin, eventually becoming a resident in 2003. Franz would read the script and offer his criticisms; I would revise and return for more discussions. This took a few years, and in the process I think we did over a hundred and fifty different versions, ending with a script that was co-written by myself and Shoja Azari.

EH: The film and the installations tell the story in radically different ways.

SN: Yes, they are very different kinds of constructions. The logic behind the editing of the video installations was to create a group of five nonlinear narratives, giving a glimpse into the nature of each of the five characters, as opposed to telling their entire stories. The idea was that the viewer would walk from room to room and, at the end, be able to put the story together. So in reality the viewer becomes the editor.

The logic for the movie version was to make a straight narrative, a more or less conventional film, while relying on my visual esthetics. The main challenge was how to fuse my artistic vocabulary with cinematic language. I realized that I had underestimated the difficulties of pacing, story development, dialogue and many other related issues. In a film, you must never lose the thread of the story, and at times beautiful imagery has to be discarded as too distracting. The issues of comprehension and clarity are very important, whereas in art practice, enigma and abstraction are encouraged.

In the end, I learned that the fundamental difference between cinema and art is the question of character development. In all my past work, such as the videos Rapture [1999] and Passage [2001], I had treated people sculpturally, devoid of any character or identity. They were simply iconic figures. But with this film, I had to learn how to build characters, how to enter their inner worlds, their mindsets. This was an entirely new experience for me. I began to appreciate directors like Bergman, who could keep you pinned in your seat, sometimes spending two hours merely with two characters in one room.

EH: Let’s talk about the story you chose to tell. Both the videos and the film are based on Shahrnush Parsipur’s novel Women Without Men. What drew you to this book?

SN: This is a very well-known novel that has been banned for many years in Iran. Parsipur herself spent five years in prison. I have always had an obsession with certain Iranian women writers, not just for their fantastic talent but also for how their lives and artistic work mirror each another.

Women Without Men is a quite beautiful but strange novel. I couldn’t have picked a more difficult book. It is written in a magic-realist style, which I was told later is perhaps the most challenging type of literature to convert into cinema. Even before I started, my advisors told me to be careful.

My attraction to the book probably stems from the fact that my own work comes out of a similar conjunction of influences. It is deeply personal and highly emotional yet equally political. Like Parsipur’s novel, everything that I have ever made concerns the intersection of contrary elements: personal/social, global/local, spiritual/ violent, masculine/feminine. My work is all about opposites and parallels. Parsipur’s tale follows the coup d’état that took place in Tehran in the summer of 1953, when Iranians struggled for political freedom against imperialism, while also tracing five women as they go on their own quests for personal freedom.

EH: How would you sum up the theme of this book?

SN: The story is a deeply philosophical one. It tells of five women who all run away from their troubled pasts and find that their lives mysteriously converge in an orchard in the countryside. This orchard becomes a refuge, a place of exile, where they can disconnect themselves from the external world. These women have something in common—the courage to take their destinies into their own hands. Some of the characters are quite realistically portrayed, such as Farokh Legha, a women in her fifties who still wants to start life over again, and Faezeh, who wants to have a normal family—a plan interrupted when she is raped. Other characters are more surrealistically drawn, like Munis, who commits suicide and finds freedom through death, and Zarin, a prostitute who begins to see her customers as literally faceless.

The film follows in parallel manner each woman’s journey out of Tehran and into the orchard. Once in the orchard, the women feel fulfilled and safe. Together they create a utopian community, until one of them gets bored and chooses to open the orchard to others. Parsipur is obviously alluding to the Garden of Eden.

EH: In the film, Munis is the pivotal character. She dies at the beginning but is resurrected, and it is her voiceover that guides us through the story.

SN: In the novel, Munis enters the orchard like the other women, and Parispur treats her as a woman who is simply curious about the world but not particularly political. In my film, I changed her story. She becomes a political activist, and she enters the orchard as a ghost, not as a human. In fact, it is through her experiences that we witness the political development in the country. Meanwhile, as the narrator of the film, she also serves as a spiritual guide.

EH: The book and videos have a fifth female character, Mahdokht, who plants herself as a tree in the garden. Why did you leave her out of the film?

SN: The extremely magical nature of her character was difficult to balance in the film. Originally, in the first few drafts of the script, she was included, but she eventually got eliminated. Mahdokht is a woman who plants herself as a tree since she is terrified of sexual intercourse but obsessed with fertility. She dreams of producing fruits and seeds that can be disseminated around the globe. So you can imagine how far out her story was.

EH: Meanwhile, you give a bigger role to the gardener, who appears both in the brothel scene as one of Zarin’s customers and as a nurturing figure in the garden.

SN: The gardener is treated as a very mysterious, rather angelic figure throughout the film. His identity is never quite revealed. He recruits the women for the orchard. And as you mentioned, he appears as a faceless monster in the brothel, which causes Zarin to escape the place; then, in the orchard, he seems very compassionate.

EH: The ending of the film also differs radically from the book’s.

SN: I must say that there are numerous things that I love about the novel, such as its philosophical and political nature, plus its broad range of female characters, from Westernized to devoutly religious and traditional to extremely poor. But I don’t really like how the story plays out once the women arrive at the orchard, nor how it ends. I feel that the women become victims, and I never wanted to portray my characters as victims. I wanted to make a film that shows women who obviously are oppressed and against the wall—due to sexual, religious or social pressure—but who all undergo a positive transformation.

EH: Which of these characters do you find yourself identifying with?

SN: Just as Parsipur constructed the characters according to her own personality, I’ve done the same. Munis and I share a passion for political activism, a belief in social justice. With Faezeh, I share the desire for a normal, traditional life. With Farokh Legha, the idea of aging but still wanting to start over again. With Zarin, the character that I perhaps feel closest to, it is the problem of the female body and feelings of shame. As a Muslim woman, I have grown up with a complex about my body, always feeling inadequate.

EH: Your film also has much more emphasis on the political aspects of the story. You highlight the 1953 coup.

SN: In the novel, the political material is only in the background, but I expanded it and brought it forward. Selfishly, I found it very timely to revisit history and remind Westerners that the American and British governments were directly responsible for overthrowing a democratic system in Iran. The CIA organized the coup in 1953, which in turn paved the road for the Islamic Revolution in 1979. As far as I know, this is the only film made so far that tries to depict this monumental political moment.

EH: The film deals with the period before you were born. How did you reach back to that?

SN: The Iran I grew up in was not so different from the one described in the novel. We were quite Westernized. The society was perhaps not as democratic as in 1953, because the Shah had created SAVAK, the secret police, but the country was far freer than it is today. In my film, you’ll see how, before the coup, the Communists and the Muslims, like the pro-Shah, the pro-Mossadegh and the pro-West groups, all coexisted. To this day, most Iranians believe that Mossadegh’s overthrow robbed them of the possibility of democracy for decades, and caused the relationship between Iran and the United States to break down. In the course of my research, I discovered how little I knew about this period and how wonderfully sophisticated and fascinating Iranian culture was at the time.

EH: On the other hand, although the film is more political than the book, you maintain a strong degree of magic realism. It can be argued that Parsipur, living in Iran, had to deal rather obliquely with her concerns about women’s roles and the place of religion. You, however, could have made a more overtly political film. Why did you retain so many fantastical elements?

SN: In cultures where citizens struggle with heavy social control, magic realism is a natural tendency. For Iranians, who have endured one dictatorship after another, poetic-metaphoric language is a way to express all that is not allowed in reality. Of course, these days, the government has a good grasp of subversive art and literature. So even though it takes place in 1953, Parsipur’s novel is considered highly problematic by the current Islamic government, which is sensitive to the book’s religious and sexual overtones. Personally, magic realism seems to suit me well, because I feel most comfortable with surrealism—not only as a strategy to avoid the obvious but as a means to make art that transcends the specificities of time and place.

EH: Do you anticipate any trouble with Women Without Men?

SN: I already know that the film won’t be screened in most of the Islamic world, primarily because of a few scenes. For example, at one moment we see Faezeh praying, then soon after, in another shot, she becomes partially nude as she unbuttons her shirt. But this was the only way I could represent a woman coming to terms with her body after a rape. Equally problematic might be showing Zarin nude in the bathhouse. Without a doubt, there will be some angry responses from Muslims troubled by the mixing of sexual and religious themes. I also expect some controversy over the political nature of the story. There are many disputes among Iranians and Westerners regarding the coup. The course of events has been interpreted differently by different camps, so the historical truth still remains a subject of debate.

EH: How has the film evolved from your earliest conception?

SN: Originally, the film opened in a very realistic manner with a fight between Munis and her brother. For the first twenty minutes, the audience would have thought they were watching a conventional narrative. Then, half an hour into the film, we introduced the surrealistic nature of the story. But later I decided that we must establish the surrealism from the beginning, so the audience won’t build an expectation for a standard film. In its current version, the film begins with Munis’s flight from the roof, which could be interpreted as a suicide but also as a leap toward freedom, since the shot is exaggerated. She is also now the narrator, who is telling us a story while flying and observing the world below.

In making the film more artistic and surrealistic, I had to be sure that it does not go in the direction of an extended video installation. Within this somewhat abstract framework, we had to develop a clear logic that hopefully will give the audience strong clues to both the story and the style of the film. By nature, this film is like a puzzle, as we must simultaneously follow four main characters, each on a journey, as well as a country in turmoil. For me, filming Women Without Men has been all about finding the right balance.

Shirin Neshat’s film Women Without Men will be screened at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [June 15], the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego [June 18], and the Museo Nazionale del Cinema, Turin  [Sept. 25]. Her video exhibition of the same title appears at the Kulturhuset, Stockholm, [Oct. 24, 2009-Jan. 10, 2010]. The artist will also have shows at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont, Paris [Sept. 16-Nov. 21], Gladstone Gallery, Brussels [September dates pending], and Marco Noire Contemporary Art, Turin [Sept 24-Nov. 30].

ELEANOR HEARTNEY recently published Art & Today (Phaidon, 2008).

Est. 1892

Women of Allah: An Interview With Exiled Artist Shirin Neshat

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The figures in Women of Allah, Shirin Neshat’s collection of early photographs, are at once modest, seductive and actively aggressive. Veiled Iranian women have their exposed flesh overlaid with the elaborate script of Farsi feminist poetry, their eyes aligned inches from the barrel of a gun, or their hands stained red with the blood of martyrdom. Like the decades’ worth of controversial and challenging visual art that followed them, these four monochrome portraits unpick the paradoxes of female Islamic identity and the flaws in Western perceptions of it.

Neshat’s photography and films navigate the intersection between art and politics, East and West, masculine and feminine. Named “Artist of the Decade” by G. Roger Denson for The Huffington Post in 2010, she has received international acclaim, but she is very clear about the politics of her artistic motivation. Recently she explained that, as an Iranian, “an artist like myself finds herself in the position of being the voice, the speaker of my people…art is our weapon, culture is a form of resistance.”

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Born in 1957, Neshat grew up in Iran before leaving to study in Los Angeles prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. She has described her subsequent return, nearly twelve years later, to her homeland under the theocratic regime as “one of the most shocking experiences that I have ever had.”

“I think that a lot of us take for granted the importance of democracy [in the West.] I remember when I was detained in the airport in Iran and I was just terrified because I was aware that I had no way of defending myself.” It is the daily reality of living without democracy that explains why “every Iranian artist, in one form or another is political. Politics have defined our lives.”

In her 1998 video installation Turbulent, two parallel screens are set up in dynamic opposition: on one we see a tensely static audience of men, symbolically partitioned off from the other screen where a lone woman sings in an empty auditorium. Her haunting voice builds our frustration to almost unbearable heights, made more unbearable if the watcher remembers that in Iran today it is illegal for women to sing in public. The figures on the screen pulse before us and we sense their ache to break free from sexual repression. Yet her passionate political criticism is profoundly defined by her Iranian identity. She doesn’t visualise the smashing of the partition in Turbulent; she doesn’t shed the modest veils of her sitters for Women of Allah.

“In Iran,” she tells me, “you don’t even know a way of expressing yourself without self-censoring and working within the parameter of the absence of freedom of expression. We have learnt to be very poetic, and symbolic, and metaphoric in terms of forming an expression. My aesthetic is automatically very safe, in a way, as it gets diluted in poetic language so that the government may not be able to detect the sharp knife.”

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Yet Neshat argues that this “has actually empowered artists because they have to be so inventive and savvy to find ways to threaten the government.” She cites the example of a recent Iranian production of Hamlet which veiled its implied criticism of the government so subtly that “whilst every Iranian in the audience understood the politically subversive message, the Head of Censorship for the government didn’t even understand why he’d been sent to look at it.”

If her art is a weapon, however, it is targeted as much at the prejudice she encounters in exile as at the oppression she confronts at home. “I am blown away by the West’s misunderstanding of Islamic values and culture. The Western notion of the superiority of their societies and their need to import their ideas into Eastern societies that they consider more or less barbaric is very arrogant and misperceived.”

In particular, her work addresses the failing of western feminism to appreciate the nuances of women’s lives under Sharia law in Iran. The group of women who progress through expanses of dust-blown desert to the ocean in her video instillation Rapture are not merely oppressed and isolated: they are vigorously resilient. Together, they launch a boat into the crashing waves, their faces emphatically individualised beneath their dark, ubiquitous veils. Neshat’s art invokes the reality that today “there are more Iranian women educated in university than men. Women have become the biggest threat to the government.”

Her first feature film, Women Without Men, won her a Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2009. It was a magical realist exploration of the 1953 CIA-backed coup d’état in Iran which imagined four women’s search for meaning beyond male governance. The women evoke a diverse range of female experience in Iran, from the restless housewife to the prostitute, but together they escape the violent streets and gather in an orchard of mesmerising lushness and mystery. She poignantly describes their solace in each other’s companionship, in their own female, Islamic “homosociety”, as theorist Eve Kosofky Sedswick has termed it. As stereotypes of submissive Islamic women are subverted, she demonstrates how, as she once explained to the journalist Collier Schorr, these women’s “protests are manifested in subtle yet powerful ways” – ways akin, perhaps, to her own artistic statements.

Yet her art aims, through its subtlety, to incite more vigorous, explicit protest. In the year that Women Without Men was released, Iran’s Green Movement flooded the streets of Tehran with the same cry for democracy that the film highlights in the protests of 1953. Her strong female protagonists were being mirrored by modern-day women rising to the forefront of the demonstrations.

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It was the role of women in the Green Movement, and later in the Arab Spring, which Neshat found most inspirational. The female protesters were “women who were educated, forward thinking, non-traditional, sexually open, fearless and seriously feminist. Iranian women have found a new voice and their voice is giving me my voice.”

“One thing that I have learnt from the Arab Spring and the Green Movement – and I actually took part in one of the big demonstrations in Egypt – was that the people’s power is quite amazing. For the first time I became a strong believer that change could only come if everyone, absolutely everyone gets out on the streets. Nothing is more frightening to the authorities than sheer numbers of people. They cannot kill enough, they cannot arrest enough, they cannot censor enough, there’s just nothing they can do. The sense of hope becomes very contagious – it doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, or educated or not, or young or old…In the Green Movement there were people who never in their lifetime thought that they would get out on the street, and they were talking about it.”

Neshat remains devoted to her political mission as an artist; she has exhibited ten times so far this year, to audiences worldwide, from Seoul to Budapest.  Despite the thousands of miles which have separated her from Iran for decades; despite the fierce censorship of the Islamic regime who brand her work “Anti-revolutionary”; despite the frustrating disconnect between East and West . Or perhaps it is because of all these things; and because she still has hope in the global fight for democracy.

“People think that the Arab Spring and the Green Movement have finished because of the lack of protest, but opposition doesn’t happen only in the form of physical demonstrations, a lot can be done off the streets… And now when we ask people if there’s anything going on underground, they say, “Of course there is, it’s all really hidden but the genie is out of the box.”

In exile, she continues to keep the genie alive.

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Interview to Shirin Neshat

The Iranian artist, winner of the Silver Lion at the last Venice Festival, talks about herself to Gabi Scardi: from her nomadic approach to media, to the unresolved relationship with her home.

Art

The artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat has explored identity through her art for more than 30 years. Although based in New York since the age of 17, her main focus has always been her native Iran, especially the plight of Iranian women. She is one of those artists who are driven by the need to see and portray not only the environment from which they come but also that in which they now find themselves. They use the language of art to create a dialogue between the present and the myths of their country of origin, on the one hand, and the culture of the country they have moved to, on the other. Their ubiquitous cultural position instils a need to oppose the automatism of accepted ideas that have never truly been thought through, indeed not thought about at all, and dispense with all kinds of a priori definitions to allow the co-existence of different Weltanschauungen. Long drawn to the film world, Shirin Neshat’s first feature film Women without Men won the Silver Lion at the last Venice Film Festival. With an enigmatic language and the punctilious and perfect style that distinguishes all her work, the artist narrates a number of individual stories that share the reference of a magnificent orchid garden: an inner sanctum, a secluded place in which to escape a routine or brutal routine. The video has just been presented on a tour around the major Italian cities of Milan, Rome, Bologna and Florence. The tour also offered the opportunity to demand that Italy exert pressure on the Iranian government to release the film director Panahi, recently arrested with his family. “Our role as Iranian artists abroad is to focus people’s attention on what is happening in our country” says Neshat.

When and why did you decide to shift from video to full-length films? Do you think you will continue with films? What does this change mean for someone like you, used to working in the visual art field?
As an artist, I have always had a rather nomadic approach to mediums, as you know I started with photography, then video and now I’m making films. I have always loved the idea of starting all over again, learning a new medium is a way of challenging myself. So this development from still images to moving pictures came naturally to me, and in a way it reflects my personality, which tends to have a strong distaste for repetition and is quite fearless about crossing boundaries. But I also think the more I made videos, the more I grew to like the cinema and the notion of storytelling. I see filmmaking as the most complete form of art – it can incorporate photography, painting, choreography, music, performance, narrative and much more. In terms of the practice of art versus filmmaking, making art is a very solitary experience but films are a more communal process that requires artists to come out of their studios and into the world, to work with a team and to discover new cultures and people they would not otherwise have met. There is also a part of me that is greatly attracted to the film audience, in the sense that I find the cinema generally more democratic and closer to the general public. I have grown somewhat frustrated by the notion of artists making precious commodities that are only to be seen in gallery and museum settings, to be collected by a few individuals and museums and, most importantly, that can mostly be appreciated by a well educated and exclusive art-world audience with a good grasp of the history of art. In that respect, the film culture seems far more grass rooted in that it is accessible to everyone without the need for any previous education on the history of films. I have every intention of continuing in both fields and I do not find it necessary to abandon one form for the other. So at the moment I am working on a series of photographs as well as an idea for my next feature film.

What will your next film be?
It is The Palace of Dreams from the novel by Ismail Kadare.

Videos usually imply active spatial practice for the audience. Your videos, in particular, with their juxtaposed screens and multiple projections were very physical experiences. Does the manner of fruition change in the passage from video to cinema? If yes, how?
You are absolutely right, video installations, particularly as I conceived them in the past, became very spatial and sculptural so the audience had a physical experience with the videos as it became immersed in the image. With the feature film, although it remains very visual, I experiment with a narrative style and, most importantly, I learn to work with “characters” in a way I never explored in my past videos. Generally speaking, if I may distinguish between the languages of art and film, I would say art is more about creating “concepts” and films are about “telling stories”. As artists, we cannot presume to simply import our video concepts into films without understanding and respecting the rules of the cinematic language. To make a film that lasts for 90 minutes you need a clear narrative development to captivate the audience in their seats; in galleries and museums, visitors can enter and exit the rooms as they wish.

You seem closely linked to your Iranian origins. Your artworks are always closely connected to the concrete situation in Iran but you have lived in USA for a long time now and you seem to be a citizen of the world. You live in a sort of ubiquitous cultural position. I imagine that this diasporic cultural identity influences your vision…
Indeed, as I feel emotionally, psychologically, culturally and politically divided between East and West, my art also reflects that dichotomy. My obsession with my country, Iran, is due to the personal fact that I have an unresolved relationship with my home. I have lived far from my family and my country without choice and I have felt abandoned in the West without any access to my family ever since I was seventeen years old. Therefore, I harbour some resentment and anger towards the political systems and governments that have determined the course of my life. In a way, my art has become a tool, a way to face up to my personal dilemma yet, as a result of this, I have found myself in a broader dialogue on the social, political and cultural realities of my country and the world at large.

With the current situation in Iran, do you think your artwork could be shown to the public nowadays? Why?
I think absolutely not as long as this government is in place; there is no possibility of the work of an artist such as myself being exhibited.

What kind of engagement should we expect from an artist, in your opinion?
As far as Iranian artists go, oppressive as the current cultural climate in Iran is, they play a great role in their country. Artists, filmmakers, writers, musicians and all people with imagination tend to be the voice of the Iranian people, painstakingly reporting life under the current regime to both Iranians (inside and outside) and to Westerners. Subversive art and artists have therefore become a great threat to the Islamic regime, as the government recognizes their ability to provoke the public and it systematically imposes censorship, harassment and very often arrests.

You have been in Italy for a few weeks and you may have heard about strange things going on here in relation to women such as paparazzi, blackmail in the political milieu and vallettopoli; I sometimes sadly ask myself whether this is a result of regression or of progress (at least women are speaking clearly!). What do you think about that? Do you have any impressions or ideas on the Italian situation?
I must confess I am not very familiar with the plight of Italian women but I have heard how some women have themselves subscribed to the idea of women remaining sexual objects, almost eradicating everything that the Feminist movement achieved for us and this is, indeed, a very troubling regression.

Gabi Scardi’s interview with Shirin Neshat took place on 12 March 2010 at the presentation and preview of the film at the Odeon cinema in Florence. The event, coordinated by Silvia Lucchesi, was organised by Lo schermo dell’arte and FST – Mediateca Toscana Film Commission.

Shirin Neshat, Women without men

Shirin Neshat, Women without men

Shirin Neshat, Women without men

Shirin Neshat, Women without men

Shirin Neshat, Women without men

Shirin Neshat, Women without men

Shirin Neshat, Women without men