Land of Dreams
09 April 2022–22 May 2022 | Dirimart

Shirin Neshat

Dirimart is pleased to announce its upcoming exhibition by Shirin Neshat, presenting her latest body of work, Land of Dreams. In parallel with the exhibition, her third feature film will be screened in three different theaters as part of the 41st Istanbul Film Festival. 

The Iranian-born NewYork-based artist’s practice focuses on the concepts of religious and political power that influence human existence. As a young adult, Neshat experienced the rise of radical Islam in the 70’s and the Iranian Islamic revolution. As an Iranian woman who has lived in exile in America since the 90’s, she developed a desire to bring nuance to dominant narratives, such as Islam versus feminism. With her latest work Land of Dreams, for the first time in her career, Neshat turns her lens towards her host country, America, to investigate and document how white supremacy and the threat against immigrants rupture individual lives under the Trump administration. A body of 111 photographic portraits, along with a two-channel video installation and a feature film converge into one multidisciplinary immersive experience to present a portrait of contemporary America. 

Created in 2019 in New Mexico, the project marks a visual and conceptual shift for the artist. The first video, Land of Dreams, follows a character named Simin, an Iranian photographer, who travels through West America to photograph locals in their homes. The protagonist asks her sitters about their most recent dreams and eventually finds herself wandering inside each individual’s subconscious. Cinematographic images of New Mexico’s sublime landscapes complete the plot. 

The second video, The Colony, takes a rather sinister and dystopian turn, where Simin becomes an Iranian spy, assigned with archiving the dreams and the portraits of people she encounters. The documents are then logged and analyzed by dozens of dream scientists in a factory-like facility. Both fictitious and documentary, the videos evoke, through striking imagery and political satire, a shared humanity among those living under social, political, and economic injustice. 

The photographic installation comprising 111 portraits of New Mexico residents taken by Neshat gathers the photographs that the fictional character Simin would have taken during her interviews. These portraits capture the diversity of American identities, including Native Americans, African Americans, and Hispanics of varying ages and genders. Like the protagonist, Neshat asks her sitters about their dreams and records some of them on their portraits in Farsi. Her practice of applying calligraphy to portraits resurfaces in this oeuvre. Through her unique point of view, Neshat creates a human bond between insiders and outsiders. This complex and interwoven body of work reveals a country where dreams are sold to many but granted to few. 

Neshat’s third feature film entitled Land of Dreams premiered in the 78th Venice Film Festival in 2021 can be seen during the 41st International Istanbul Film Festival supported by Istanbul Arts and Culture Foundation. The movie features Sheila Vand, Matt Dillon, William Moseley, and Isabella Rossellini. For screenings, please visit film.iksv.org/en.

Shirin Neshat (b. 1957, Qazvin) is an Iranian artist and cinema director. Her practice centers on the contrasts between Islam and the West, femininity and masculinity, public and private life, antiquity and modernity, and bridging the spaces between these subjects. Her iconic portraits she creates by interfering with her Farsi handwriting, make the viewer face the hegemony struggle which people from countries with repressive governments and secretly violent policies are exposed to. In 2009, Neshat made her first feature film titled Woman Without Men, and was awarded with the Silver Lion Prize for Best Director at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. Neshat’s photography series include The Book of Kings (2012), Our House Is on Fire (2013), The Home of My Eyes (2015), Dreamers (2016), and Land of Dreams (2019).

Shirin Neshat’s works have been exhibited in museums such as The Broad, LA; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Serpentine Gallery, London; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal; and the Detroit Institute of Arts. She recently held exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC. She participated in the 48th Venice Biennial (1999); Whitney Biennial (2000); Documenta XI (2002); and Prospect 1 New Orleans (2009). Awards she was granted are: Grand Prize at the Gwangju Biennial (2000); the First International Award at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999); Hiroshima Freedom Prize (2005); and the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award (2006). She lives and works in New York.