The Last word (2003)
At the occasion of the third solo show of Shirin Neshat at Lumen Travo gallery, the Iranian born artist shows a selection of large photographs in relation with one of her last video called Zarin (2005). One of the main themes explored by the artist is women social place in a society submitted to strict norms and (islamic) rules. She has started as a photographer by showing an image of the islamic woman, whose poetry and violence are enhanced by the use of black and white colours, like in her past series called Women of Allah. The contrasts between fragility and strength, poetry and violence mix up in Shirin Neshat’s photographs. Neshat has become a master in the art to combine oppositions. In her videos, she brings up oppositions between the form and the content, woman and man, individual and mass, poetry and power, sexuality and taboo, in an impressive and thrilling way.
The five large photographs from Zarin give another picture of woman. In the video, Zarin is a young woman who ends up in prostitution. The character is based on the novel called Women Without Men, written by Sharnoush Parsipour, a writter who has inspired Neshat’s first video The last Word. Shot in Morocco, the video follows the emotional and psychic fall of the young woman through brilliant pictures. When once she is about to satisfy a client, the character, puzzled, notices that the client’s features have disappeared and that he has no head anymore. She flees from the brothel and sees that every man encountered in the street has no head neither. She goes straight to a hamam, where she scours her body with horror and her feelings of guiltyness until she bleeds. Consequently she goes to a Mosquee and prays Allah with the hope that it would forgive her. Some photographs are film-stills which pick up some of the main scenes of the video, others are scenes which show a skilled use of the light and shade, and a charismatic balance in the use of drama and serenity.