The New Social Environment#228

Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari with Charles Shafaieh

 

1 p.m. Eastern / 10 a.m. Pacific

Artists and filmmakers Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari join journalist and critic Charles Shafaieh. We conclude with a poetry reading from Ben Fama.

Shirin Neshat

Portrait drawing of Shirin Neshat by Phong H. Bui
Portrait drawing of Shirin Neshat by Phong H. Bui

Video and installation artist Shirin Neshat (Iranian, b.1957) explores the political and social conditions of Iranian and Muslim life in her works, particularly focusing on women and feminist issues. Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran, and left the country to study art in the United States at 17; she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with an MFA in 1982. When she returned to her home country in 1990, she found it barely recognizable from the Iran before the 1979 Revolution, a shocking experience that incited the meditations on memory, loss, and contemporary life in Iran that are central to her work.

Her Women of Allah series, created in the mid-1990s, introduced the hallmark themes of her pieces through which she examines conditions of male, female, public, private, religious, political, and secular identities in both Iranian and Western cultures. Her videos, installations, and photographs have received great international critical acclaim outside of Iran. In 2019, The Broad Museum, Los Angeles, presented Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again, a survey of 25 years of the artist’s work, and her current exhibit Shirin Neshat: Land of Dreams at Gladstone Gallery, New York, is on view through February 27, 2021. Neshat currently lives and works in New York.

Shoja Azari

Portrait drawing of Shoja Azari by Phong H. Bui
Portrait drawing of Shoja Azari by Phong H. Bui
Shoja Azari is an Iranian-born visual artist and filmmaker known for films such as Women Without Men (2009), Windows (2006), and K (2002), based on three of Franz Kafka’s short stories (“The Married Couple,” “In the Penal Colony,” and “A Fratricide”). In his work, Azari confronts broad themes of gender, politics, and piety, drawing inspiration from and re-interpreting religious icons. While collaborating with Shirin Neshat on a wealth of film and video projects, Azari created experimental and art house films, including an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s work, K (2000) and a series of short films, Windows (2005). Windows premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, bringing him into the public eye. Azari and Neshat’s film Women Without Men won the Silver Lion for best director at the 2009 Venice Film Festival. Azari has since developed a style of “video paintings” that combine media to produce a unique three-dimensional effect. He has partnered with artist Shahram Karimi on a variety of multimedia projects. Azari’s work has been exhibited globally and is included in international permanent collections. He lives and works in New York.

Charles Shafaieh

Charles Shafaieh
Photo by Timothy Sekk
Charles Shafaieh is an arts journalist and critic whose writing on theatre, visual art, literature, film, and music has appeared in numerous international publications including The New Yorker, Artforum, The Times Literary Supplement, The Irish Times, and The Weekend Australian Review. Originally from Montana and now based in New York City, he writes regularly on opera for Opera News and on architecture and design for Harvard Design Magazine. His essays have also appeared in multiple books, such as The Touch: Spaces Designed for the Senses (gestalten 2019). With the Brooklyn Public Library, he co-curates Litfilm, an annual film festival focused on writers.

The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poem, and we’re fortunate to have Ben Fama reading.

Ben Fama

Ben Fama
A writer based in New York City. He is the author of Deathwish (Newest York, 2019), Fantasy (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015), and the chapbooksOdalisque (Bloof, 2014), Cool Memories (Spork, 2013), New Waves (Minutes Books, 2011), and Aquarius Rising (Ugly Duckling Presse 2010). He is also the author of the artist book Mall Witch (Wonder, 2012). He is the cofounder of Wonder.