Shirin Neshat Unveiling (1993)

Shirin Neshat’s Unveiling (1993) explores the politics of women living behind “the veil” in Islamic countries. This multimedia exhibition featured photographs, sculptures, and films that expressed women’s affective experiences of wearing veils. Working across these mediums, Neshat integrated text from the Iranian poet Furugh Farrukzad—whose work is considered to be one of the most radical expressions of female sensuality and independence. While noting the complexities of the veil, she does not criticize the garment’s traditional values for contemporary women. For Neshat, the fundamental question is what shapes the female experience: the veil or the body? She also brings into focus the problems of transposing Western feminist identity politics onto Islamic cultures. Ultimately, Neshat creates new understandings of the veil, while challenging stereotypes about female identity in Islam.

Shirin Neshat is an Iranian-born visual artist based in New York City. Neshat’s photograph series Unveiling (1993) and Women of Allah (1993–97) examine femininity in relation to Islamic fundamentalism and militancy in Iran. Her video installation trilogy comprising Turbulent (1998), Rapture (1999), and Fervor (2000) portray abstract oppositions based around gender and society. Neshat’s video works Soliloquy (1999), Possessed (2001), Pulse (2001), and Tooba (2002) explore female identity in the context of Islamic culture, law, and religion. Since her first solo exhibition at Franklin Furnace in 1993, Neshat has been featured in solo exhibitions at Serpentine Galleries (2000); Walker Art Center (2002); Hamburger Bahnhof (2005); Stedelijk Museum (2006); Detroit Institute of Arts Museum (2013); and Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2014). A major exhibition of the artist’s body of work, Shirin Neshat: Facing History (2015), was presented at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Her awards include the Golden Lion Award, First International Prize at the 48th Venice Biennial (1999); Grand Prix of the Gwangju Biennial (2000); Hiroshima Freedom Prize (2005); and Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize (2006). Neshat is represented by Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Additional Materials

icon Unveiling exhibition text

Additional Info

  • Title: Unveiling
  • Holdings: photo gallery
  • Language: English
  • Date: 2 Apr-1 May 1993
  • Location: Franklin Furnace, New York, New York, USA
  • Type-Format: installation
  • Credits: Visual art by Shirin Neshat. Photographic documentation by Marty Heitne.

Image Gallery

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