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Panteha (Masses), from 'The Book of Kings' series

Shirin Neshat
Panteha (Masses), from 'The Book of Kings' series, 2012
Ink on LE silver gelatin print
Work: 102 x 76 cm

Shirin Neshat’s portraits from ‘The Book of Kings’ series depict Iranian and Arab youth with meticulously executed calligraphic texts and drawings inscribed over each subject’s face and body. These texts and illustrations—drawn from the Shahnameh as well as from contemporary poetry by Iranian writers and prisoners— both obscure and illuminate the subjects’ facial expressions and emotive intensity, intimately linking the current energy of contemporary Iran with its mythical and historical past. In this arresting body of work, Neshat returns to the confrontational nature of her iconic Women of Allah series, while re-focusing on themes of revolution and the bold-faced defiance of youth.