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Up Close: A Look at the Art of Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat is one of the most well-known Iranian-American artists of our time. Her photography and films, based on fictional characters, look at the role of women in Iran and at Neshat's own identity as an exiled Iranian-American. Over time, her art has moved from the poetic to the political, from the still image to the moving picture.

"Presently I stand somewhere between visual arts and cinema," Neshat says.

Neshat's latest mixed-media work is on display at Manhattan's Gladstone Gallery. A pair of video installations explore the lives of two Iranian women trying to free themselves from personal oppression at a time when their country is going through a similar political struggle.

Their stories are adapted from Shahrnush Parsipur's novel Women Without Men, which chronicles the 1953 coup d'etat in Iran. Neshat is crafting a feature-length film on the same subject, which will soon be released in Europe.

Neshat says her work focuses on women because they give the audience a "pretty interesting reading into the culture overall." She knows some consider her photographs and video subversive, but says she doesn't believe propaganda makes good art. She hopes her current video installations will break the amnesia about the 1953 coup d'etat.

"My own personal experience as someone who's been exiled has absolutely everything to do with my subject matters, with the characters that I choose, the stories that I make," Neshat says.

Her work will be on display at Gladstone Gallery until Feb. 23.

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