The Home of my Eyes by Shirin Neshat

The Home of my Eyes by Shirin NeshatImage courtesy of Shirin Neshat

The Home of my Eyes by Shirin Neshat
Museo Correr, Venice
From 13 May to 26 November 2017

 

The Home of My Eyes exhibition at the Museo Correr will feature recent works by Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, including a selection of photographs from The Home of My Eyes series (2015), and her new video Roja (2016). These works represent a shift in Neshat’s practice, as they depart from works that focus primarily on her own Iranian society and instead reflect on other cultures.

 

The Home of my Eyes by Shirin NeshatImage courtesy of Written Art Foundation, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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Portraying the diverse people of Azerbaijan, Neshat’s The Home of My Eyes series comprises 55 photographic portraits inscribed with ink. The artist conceived of the series as “a portrait of a country that for so long has been a crossroads of many different ethnicities, religions, and languages”. Only separated from Iran in the first half of the 19th century, Azerbaijan especially resonated with Neshat, as it shares much of the same history, religion, ethnicity, and culture with her native country. In the series, Neshat captures the individual character of her subjects in frontal, close-up portraits. While the subjects range in age and ethnicity, Neshat unites them formally by staging them in similar clothing and poses, against a dark background. Their specific hand gestures reference Christian religious paintings, most notably those of El Greco.

 

The Home of my Eyes by Shirin NeshatImage courtesy of Shirin Neshat

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The series additionally explores the subjects’ individual voices. During production, Neshat spoke with them about their perspectives on cultural identity and the concept of home. Neshat then composed texts, which are calligraphically inscribed across the portraits, from both the sitters’ responses to the notion of homeland, and from poems by Nizami Ganjavi, a 12th century Iranian poet who lived in what is present-day Azerbaijan.

 

The Home of my Eyes by Shirin NeshatImage courtesy of Written Art Foundation, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

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While in The Home of My Eyes, Neshat examines a culture quite close to her own, in the video Roja, she reflects on her own experience of living in the foreign culture of the United States. Roja, based on Neshat’s personal dreams and memories, traces an Iranian woman’s nostalgia for her homeland. The protagonist is simultaneously pulled towards and pushed away from both her original and adopted homes. Employing a surrealist lens and nonlinear narrative, Roja captures feelings of displacement, blurred lines between reality and fiction, and tensions between the past and present.

 

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