Jul 092010

I still remember when I first came across one of Iranian artist Shirin Neshat’s photographs. A close-up photo of a veiled woman’s face had been altered, Arabic writing filling the white space of her cheeks and forehead. It was such a clear thing – your culture written on your face, your identity or supposed identity on view for all to see. I found it very inspiring and went on to make pieces based on projections of text or images onto other surfaces. Since then I’ve followed Neshat’s work whenever I could, watching her video installations at the Venice Biennale (I think? My memory is poor).

So I was happy to hear that Shirin Neshat made a feature length fiction film called Women Without Men, and it’s playing at the NWFF here in Seattle starting TONIGHT July 9th, until Thursday July 15th. The trailer looks awesome.

The NWFF also thoughtfully posted a link to an interview of Shirin Neshat by the Stranger’s Jen Graves, and I found this section, where she talks about video art vs. film, very insightful and funny (read the whole article for thoughts on the movie, the US involvement in the 1953 Iranian coup d’etat, and piracy):

Q. What for you is the difference between cinema and film or video art?

A. There’s definitely a huge difference. My feeling is that, essentially, with cinema, it’s all about telling a story, and all about character development, and an entirely different way of construction and pacing that suits the idea of entertaining people for an hour and a half. You can be enigmatic and fragmented with a video that is about a concept, and people can come in the room and leave, because you know that you don’t have them pinned down for an hour and a half. The idea of making a video installation for an hour and a half is the most painful thing you can possibly imagine, it just doesn’t work.

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