Shirin Neshat, Soliloquy, 1999, 35 mm film transferred to video, 15 minutes (still)
|Ask the Artists: Shirin Neshat|
allow me to say how breathtaking your piece is. I have visited the
international five times now, and the first piece I go to is your film.
My question concerns your family and their opinion of your work. I'm fascinated by the ethnicity in your work. It obviously is a very historic, traditional and religious culture. Does your family still reside in Iran? If so, does the struggle, in your film soliloquy, between your ethnic tradition and attempting to survive in a modern day society offend them? Did they find the adjustment, or meshing, of these cultures themselves to be difficult?
I read your article in this months art news, and I loved it. You’re an amazing artist with a powerful message even through silence. Thank you!!! I'm 21 and an artist residing here in Pittsburgh.
family still lives in Iran so I visit them as much as I can. You have
guessed it right that although "Soliloquy" was not a
biographical piece, it is based on my personal experience. This experience
of course not being unique, as the globalization of the world and the
rapid migration has uprooted many of us sometimes by choice other times
due to economic factors. Whatever the reason, however, those of us living
in the state of the 'in between' have certain advantages and
disadvantages. The advantage of being exposed to a new culture and in my
case the freedom that comes with living in the USA. The disadvantages of
course being that you will never experience again being in a 'center' or
quite at 'home' anywhere.
My family of course never completely understood the feeling of 'dislocation' that I have experienced, since they were not with me. But after so many years of distance they have accepted that I will never completely come back. This acceptance and the permanency of our separation other than short visits in between are at times very painful.
These are the types of subtle issues that I was hoping to bring up in"Soliloquy". Issues that are entirely based on emotions as opposed to facts.
|Question 2: How do you think the recently elected more liberal Iranian Parliament might affect your work in the future?|
|The election and the whole new agenda of the reformists are excellent news for me, and all Iranians, as it suggests possibility of 'change' and a move toward a more liberal society. Personally, the best thing that could come out of this change is the possibility of traveling more freely back and forth and most importantly to be able to work in Iran on my projects.|
|Question 3: I was just wondering why you chose to film one part of Soliloquy in Turkey as opposed to Iran where you were born. Also, what city in Turkey was it filmed?|
|I decided to film in Turkey because it was impossible to get permission to film in Iran due to heavy levels of censorship. In Turkey we film in the Eastern part of the country in a remote town of Mardin. This location was not far from the border of Iran (7 hours)--a town mostly with a population of Kurds, Arabs and of course Turks. It was an amazing place as it was very tense politically due to the active presence of the Kurdish rebels and the Islamic Fundamentalists. Yet it was also architecturally quite beautiful. We found out later that even Turkish people avoided traveling to this city exactly because of its dangerous political climate.|
|Shirin Neshat's CI:99/00 page|