This very elegant shot is pulled from Shirin Neshat's latest film Women Without Men, resulting from a six-year project, which has gained general acclaim across the world. Neshat was awarded for this film with the Silver Lion for Best Director at the Venice Film Festival in 2009 and was praised by many critics for her production, with Peter Bradshaw from The Guardian claiming that 'Neshat has directed a quietly tremendous film which ensnares both the heart and the mind'. From Berlin to London, Athens to Doha, and recently in Milan, the artist was invited to make presentations and interviews around her film in these cities. The project of her film was also launched in major museums in Finland and Denmark, and the first screening of Women Without Men as a stand-alone movie was hosted by the Museum of Modern Art in New York in March 2010.
Shirin Neshat summarises her movie, by saying that 'My first feature-length film is based on a magical realist novel by Iranian author Shahrnush Parsipur. The narrative interweaves the lives of four Iranian women during the summer of 1953, a pivotal moment in Iranian history when an American-led coup d'état toppled the democratically elected prime minister, Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, and restored the Shah to power. The film chronicles the lives of the four characters as they appear to be running away from social, cultural, or sexual oppression. The characters' lives converge in an orchard, where they attempt to create their own society. The story then traces the construction and eventual breakdown of an utopian society. The women's struggle parallel to that of their nation, a country in crisis fighting true independence from foreign forces.' (Shirin Neshat in E.Heartney, S.Neshat & S.Azari, Shirin Neshat: Women Without Men, Milan, 2011, p. 241)
Although her movie takes place in 1953, Shirin Neshat also presents to the viewers her point of view on contemporary Iran, observed through the eyes of her main protagonist, Munis, who is one of the four Iranian women. 'Munis follows a young woman whose intense passion for social justice is perpetually stymied by her oppressive brother. Happening to witness the death of a political activist, Munis is driven to take her own life, beginning a magical encounter between herself and the deceased. Only in Death can Munis finally participate in the strange carnival of political unrest, but she also finds that 'reality' can, in close proximimity, be disillusioning.' (Shirin Neshat in E.Heartney, S.Neshat & S.Azari, 2011, p. 223)
The present lot is one of the best and rarest examples from her series of photographs Women Without Men, which is now widely regarded as being the artist's most important series, with three books recently published, entirely dedicated to this body of works. Characteristic of Neshat's art are her signature black and white photographs, rich in contrast dominating most of her visual art. Yet Neshat introduces a new element to this series, in the way the colours have been corrected in a very fine and delicate way using shades from soft watercolors and pastels. The series feature mainly large-scale photographs and figures lying on their back in an empty space, but covered with hand-written Persian calligraphy, reflecting the psychological, cultural, political and social spirit of the artist's native land.