THE BLOG
01/20/2012 09:18 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2012

The Weight of Neshat

Shirin Neshat's latest series of photographs presented along with a video installation at Gladstone Gallery perpetuate her study of the underlying conditions of power within socio-cultural structures in the Middle East. Born in Qazvin, Iran before immigrating to the United States in 1974, Neshat's artistic practice has focused on the plight of women in oppressive, Muslim societies. Addressing the Arab Spring and the momentum of these uprisings, Neshat turned to historical and contemporary sources to create technically beautiful and richly provocative photographic portraits.

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Shirin Neshat, My House is Burning Down, 2012, Ink on LE silver gelatin print, 47 1/8 x 60 inches (119.7 x 152.4 cm), 47 1/2 x 60 1/4 x 2 inches (120.7 x 153 x 5.1 cm), Edition of 5 + 2 Aps

The exhibition's title, The Book of Kings, stems from the ancient Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), an epic tragedy written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c. 977 and 1010 AD. The Book of Kings recounts the mythical and historical past of Greater Iran from the creation of the world until the Islamic conquest of Persia in the 7th Century.

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Shirin Neshat, "The Book of Kings", January 13 - February 11, 2012
Installation View: Gladstone Gallery, New York, Photo: David Regen, Copyright Shirin Neshat
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Each photograph appears inscribed with Neshat's signature calligraphic texts and drawings over each subject's face and body drawn from Shahnameh as well as from contemporary poetry by Iranian writers and prisoners vying against authoritarian rule.

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Shirin Neshat, "The Book of Kings", January 13 - February 11, 2012
Installation View: Gladstone Gallery, New York, Photo: David Regen, Copyright Shirin Neshat
Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

While the work conveys little conceptual deviation from previous series, the aesthetic beauty of each silvery print and the raw emotion garnered from each sitter remains resolutely powerful.

The Book of Kings will be on exhibition from January 13-February 11 at Gladstone Gallery (515 West 24th Street).