Day in the Life: Shirin Neshat

Charles Shafaieh pays a visit to the home of one of New York’s most widely recognized artists.

“The projects I choose are very ambitious and almost impossible at times.”

Art for art’s sake is of no interest to Shirin Neshat. The Iranian-American artist mines the iconography, history and poetry of her homeland to explore both local and universal issues, from the chador and female body to ritual and performance. The video installations, calligraphy-lined photographs and live-performance work that results challenges the expectations and assumptions of Iranian and American, Muslim and atheist audiences alike. And she has made the leap from art to cinema: In 2010, her film about the 1953 coup in Tehran, Women Without Men, was an art house hit.

Neshat’s work often takes her away from her apartment, as she meets the many collaborators with whom she has formed an international collective producing, assisting and even starring in each other’s work. Despite...

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