‘Book of Kings’: Shirin Neshat’s Photographs Depict Iranian and Arab Youth

NEW YORK—Gladstone Gallery is suffused with humanity. Throughout the space, dozens of Iranian and Arab youth with engaging, thoughtful expressions stare out from black-and-white photographs by Shirin Neshat.

The exhibit, “The Book of Kings,” was inspired by the wave of political uprisings throughout the Arab world last year, and according to the gallery, explores the “underlying conditions of power within socio-cultural structures.”

Neshat references a range of historic and contemporary metaphors. The name of the show comes from the ancient book of Shahnameh (The Book of Kings), a long, ancient poem of epic tragedies written by a Persian poet. The portraits, displayed in three groups—the Masses, the Patriots and the Villains—are enhanced with drawings and Arabic text, including contemporary poetry by Iranian writers and prisoners and also from the Shahnameh.

Iranian-born Neshat lives and works in New York City. The exhibit runs from Jan. 13 to Feb. 11, 2012.

All photos by Arts Observer

“Roja,” 2012 (ink on LE gelatin silver print).

From left, “Bahram,” 2012 (ink on LE gelatin silver print); “Sharif,” 2012 (ink on LE gelatin silver print).

“My House is Burning Down,” 2012 (ink on LE gelatin silver print).

A young woman poses next to her portrait.

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