Untitled, from Roja Series

Shirin Neshat
Untitled, from Roja Series, 2016
Silver gelatin print
Work: 101.6 x 152.4 cm

“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”. Dreamers, her 2016 solo exhibition at Goodman Gallery Johannesburg, was based on aspects of the artist’s own dreams and featured Roja and Sarah, the second and third films in a trilogy of film installations, which began with Illusions and Mirrors in 2013. 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.

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