Shirin Neshat / Dreamers / 2016

Shirin Neshat 20 August - 14 September 2016 Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg
20 August – 14 September 2016

Goodman Gallery is pleased to announce the representation of well-known Iranian-born artist and filmmaker, Shirin Neshat. For her first solo exhibition with the gallery she will debut two significant new video installations, Roja (2016) and Sarah (2016), including new photographs from the Roja series. We are thrilled to premier Neshat’s first solo exhibition on the African continent.

Roja and Sarah are part of a trilogy of video installations titled Dreamers, which explore the world of women’s dreams. The first video in the trilogy, Illusions & Mirrors (2013), premiered at the Montreal Museum of Fine Art as part of the first La Biennale de Montréal in 2014. In many ways, the characters and their dreamy narratives are projections of the artist in which she reflects on some of her own personal nightmares.

Conceptually each of the three video installations revolves around a single female protagonist whose emotional and psychological narratives remain on the border of dream and reality; madness and sanity; and consciousness and sub-consciousness as they each face their own distinct inner anxieties. The visual approach to the creation of this trilogy has been consistent, with each video being shot in black and white, and the artist using simple camera devices to produce surrealistic and dreamy visual effects. Her two new videos consider the unearthly or dreamlike residue that subsists in the aftermath of real events.

“I have been haunted by the power of dreams for years” says Neshat, “I am fascinated by how in a state of dream, the boundaries in between madness and sanity, reality and fiction, conscious and subconscious are blurred and broken” (2016). Dreamers is based on aspects of the artists own dreams. Roja’s character and dilemma in many ways resembles hers: the fear of the ‘stranger’ and the ‘strange land,’ and desire for a reunion with ‘home’ with ‘mother,’ with the ‘motherland’ that seems welcoming at first but becomes terrifying and demonic in the end. Themes of ‘flight’ and ‘levitation’, implying freedom and ecstasy, is a significant aspect of the Roja video that is a recurring theme in Neshat’s work.

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born artist and filmmaker living in New York. She has held major solo exhibitions in renowned international museums – such as the Tate, Serpentine, Guggenheim Bilbao, Whitney Museum of American Art. Beginning with her early photographic series Women of Allah (1993-1997), and continuing through her current practice, Neshat has consistently and fluently probed issues of gender, power, displacement, protest, identity, and the space between the personal and the political with a singular and powerful aesthetic. Neshat has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at galleries and museums internationally, and has been the recipient of prestigious prizes including the Silver Lion Award for Best Director in the 66th Venice International Film Festival in 2009 for her first feature-length film Women Without Men.



Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat (b. 1957, Qazvin, Iran) is an Iranian-born artist and filmmaker living in New York. Neshat’s early photographic works include the Women of Allah series (1993–1997), which explored the question of gender in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy. Her subsequent video works departed from overtly political content or critique in favor of more poetic imagery and narratives. In her practice, she employs poetic imagery to engage with themes of gender and society, the individual and the collective, and the dialectical relationship between past and present, through the lens of her experiences of belonging and exile. 

She has mounted numerous solo exhibitions at museums internationally, including: the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Serpentine Gallery, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. Recent solo exhibitions include: Kunstraum Dornbirn, Austria; Faurschou Foundation, Copenhagen; Kunsthalle Tübingen, Germany; and Museo Correr,Venice,  Italy, which was an official corollary event to the 57th Biennale di Venezia in 2017. A major retrospective of her work was exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2013. Neshat was awarded the Golden Lion Award, the First International Prize at the 48th Biennale di Venezia (1999), the Hiroshima Freedom Prize (2005), and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2006). In 2009, Neshat directed her first feature-length film, Women Without Men, which received the Silver Lion Award for “Best Director” at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Dreamers marked her first solo show on the African continent, which exhibited at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg in 2016. That same year, Neshat featured in the New Revolutions: Goodman Gallery at 50 exhibition in Johannesburg and in the Summers group exhibition at Goodman Gallery Cape Town. In 2017, Neshat was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award for Painting. That same year, Neshat directed Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at the Salzburg. In 2017, Neshat was awarded the prestigious Praemium Imperiale award for Painting. That same year, Neshat directed Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at the Salzburg.  The Broad Museum in Los Angeles recently hosted a survey exhibition of the last 25 years of Neshat’s work, which travelled on to Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth in 2021. This year Neshat was the feature artist and Master of Photography at Photo London festival which took place in Somerset House in September. 

Neshat has directed three feature-length films, Women Without Men (2009), which received the Silver Lion Award for Best Director at the 66th Venice International Film Festival,  Looking For Oum Kulthum (2017,) and most recently Land of Dreams (2021) which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.  

The artist lives and works in New York, USA.