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Shirin Neshat on women’s rights, oppression and the Middle East

Shirin Neshat tells us about ‘The Fury’, a culmination of art and activism, on show at Goodman Gallery, London

The Fury is a new body of work by the Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, who is known for her art and activism around being an Iranian woman and an immigrant to America. The London exhibition opened at Goodman Gallery (until 8 November) to coincide with Frieze London 2023, while a virtual reality version of The Fury is showing concurrently as part of the 2023 London Film Festival (until 23 October).

For the first time in a long time, Neshat has turned her lens to the Middle East and is looking at the subject of sexual assault and captivity in Iran. The powerful new works have her signature motifs – striking photography in black and white, combined with handwritten calligraphy in Farsi – but there is a directness that speaks to her earlier work. She is inspired by the Women, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, and is tackling her subject matter head-on.

Neshat left Iran aged 17 and has lived in the United States since then. She began making art in earnest after visiting Iran in the early 1990s, and has since gained a reputation as an important activist voice as well as a renowned artist and filmmaker. She has directed three feature films, Women Without Men (2009), which was awarded the Silver Lion Award for Best Director at the 66th Venice International Film Festival; Looking For Oum Kulthum (2017); and Land of Dreams (2021).

The Fury a is series of photographs accompanied by an 18-minute film shot on the streets of Brooklyn. The works address women’s rights and oppression both in terms of what is happening in Iran and the immigrant experience of those living in the West.

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