Chelsea Galleries Essay

What did I know about Islamic culture? What did I know about Islamic women? I never perceived them from this point of view”¦ I never thought of them as of victims, of people who suffer. I saw Shirin Neshat’s works”¦ and I changed my way of thinking. We should think more about these issues. Perhaps we should treat them differently. I think this is Neshat’s message.

So clear and alive, her photos are vivid and emotional. They strike you with its images. Pain”¦ despair”¦ disappointment”¦ loneliness”¦ doom”¦ this is how Islamic women are portrayed in Neshat’s photos. Her photos are so saturated with unsurpassable strength of an Islamic woman, with her sufferings, oppression. Black paranjas and veils emphasize these feelings. Arab inscriptions contribute to the composition and increase the impression. For me it is hard to see fragile women at gun point. It moves me to tears, it stops my heart, it makes me think”¦ Zarhra, Munis & Revolutionary Man, the series Women of Allah ”“ these photos are so powerful. However, they are still.

Neshat’s video installations are even more striking. What usually touches us? When we see alive people, when we watch their life with both its troubles and delightful events. Perhaps Shirin Neshat manages to convey all the scope of feelings due to the media, which she uses. Film and sound can affect people best of all. We watch and we feel; we see the world as it is and we believe it. We try to understand and we regenerate; we are able to change our point of view and we live.

Another creator and another topic, another food for thought. Luis Gispert and his works also talk about the relations in society, about racism and inequality, about suffering people and their feelings. However, his works are absolutely different. If Neshat’s photos and video installations are as real as people, portrayed in them, Gispert’s works are surreal, though the issues he discusses are as real as our life. He conveys Cuban- American history; he shows the peculiarities of Latino culture and spirit in modern environment. For example, he places the scene of action of his film Smother in Miami and tells us a story of an 11-year-old boy and his difficult relations with his imperious mother.

We see the boy’s nightmares interwoven with the reality. Some scenes strike and make us avert our eyes, others astonish with its frank confession. The boy has to overcome different situations and gain some new experience before he is able to break the bonds with his mother. This 26-minute film is a combination of reality and unreality, which leads us to better understanding of the boy’s problems.

Gispert’s works are not simple photos or sculptures or films but complex compositions with interwoven motives and concepts. I needed time to understand his works. They fascinate and make you wonder. They show difficult relations of different subcultures. Being photos, they affect you due to their vividness and sharp lines. Everything is in its place; every component serves a particular aim.

What is the most important about both artists’ works is that they make us think and feel. They make us understand some issues that we never thought about before. They regenerate us and help to understand other people and their tragedies and empathize with them. At least it happened to me”¦

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