Saturday, February 10, 2007

Favorite art, part 4

Shirin Neshat
Turbulent, 1998
Black-and-white video installation

Pulling together info for this post reminds me of how grateful I am to live in an age of easy access to information.

I saw this video/audio piece when I was in Chicago, during the same trip and visiting the same museum as the Westermann exhibit. I watched it three times, thought about it for weeks afterward, and assumed that I'd never know anything more about it than what I'd gleaned while I was there. A few weeks ago I decided to send the Museum of Contemporary Art an email with my rough description of the piece and see if they'd respond with any more information. They did within hours. And here's the official description so I won't botch it with my overused adjectives: provocative, compelling, mesmerizing...

"The video-installation Turbulent, presented in two parts projected simultaneously onto opposing walls, dramatically addresses the traditional segregation between men and women in Muslim culture, as well as the transcendent power of music. The laws of Shi'ite Islam forbid women to sing before a public audience. Here an opposing narrative is played out as a man sings a conventional love song (written by the 13th century mystic poet Rumi) before an audience of men, while the woman performs to an empty auditorium, using her voice soulfully, yet without words, in an act of rebellion, without breaking the rules."

Thank you to the kind folks at the Museum of Contemporary Art for responding to my vague inquiry. I'll be looking out for more of Neshat's work, and forward to another visit to Chicago.

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