1st Edition

Translation and Transgression in the Art of Shirin Neshat

By Erin C. Devine Copyright 2024
    130 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Precisely 30 years after the debut of her provocative photo-portraits, this book chronicles the early career of Iranian-American artist Shirin Neshat. In its first 20 years, Neshat’s work weaved viewers into complex readings of women and power in Iran. Yet her images also drew criticisms of exoticizing Muslim women, and later video installations were accused of lacking political assertion during stormy relations between the West and the Islamic world.

    Now broadly recognized as a social justice artist, this volume chronicles Neshat’s evolution from photography to film, from personal to political expression, and expands existing scholarship to investigate underserved contexts for her work, including the cinematic turn and emergent theories of globality in contemporary art. Neshat’s hyphenated identity was often attenuated by reductive and exoticizing discourses; therefore, this volume draws attention to her transnational methodologies, informed by strategies of appropriation, performativity, and embodiment while articulating Persian visual and literary traditions. Complicating simplistic ethnographies, her disruption of neo-Orientalist paradigms and representations has led audiences to reconsider Islamophobic, Islamism, and gender repressions that are political, psychological, and above all cross-cultural.

    This book will be of interest to scholars working in art history, photography, cinema studies, performance, transnational and global studies, women’s studies, and Iranian studies.


    1. Signs in Silence: Performing the Subjects of Unveiling and Women of Allah

    2. Spectacle of Memory: Embodied Experience in Neshat’s Early Video Installations

    3. ‘Here Vs. There:’ Translation and the Global Exhibition

    4. From Transgression to Aesthetic-Political Commitment: Neshat’s Iran at the Crossroads



    Erin Devine is an artist and writer based in Washington, DC and Cologne, Germany. She exhibits installation and performance-based works internationally, contributes criticism to multiple publications, curates exhibitions for spaces in the DC area, and is a Professor of Art History at Northern Virginia Community College.