Photo by Manfred Werner, courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Shirin Neshat is an acclaimed artist whose films, photography, and video installations deal with issues of gender, culture, and religion in the Middle East. Born in Qazvin, Iran, in 1957, Neshat immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17 to study art, receiving her MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. Her experience returning to Iran in 1990, in which she was shocked to find the country barely recognizable after the 1979 Revolution, served as a major inspiration for her work. With its use of allegory, myth, and hypnotic music, her art has been exhibited in major institutions around the world, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York, and the Tate Gallery, in London. Her first feature film, Women Without Men, which deals with women in their struggle against oppression in Tehran, won the Silver Lion for best director at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.