• Shirin Neshat, Bahram, 2012, ink on gelatin silver print, 99 1/8 x 49 1/2". From the series “The Book of Kings,” 2012.

    Shirin Neshat

    The Detroit Institute of Arts
    5200 Woodward Avenue
    April 7–July 7

    Curated by Rebecca Hart

    The inked-over countenances of women holding, hiding, or otherwise harnessing guns in Shirin Neshat’s “Women of Allah” series, 1993–97, have become emblematic of art from a place all too easily amalgamated as the “Islamic world.” While themes of oppression and revolution in these arresting portraits have been well plumbed, the images’ more profound valences (regarding love and other matters more philosophical) warrant further consideration. This midcareer retrospective—featuring two extensive photo projects (“Women of Allah” and the recent “Book of Kings,” 2012) as well as a dozen video works made over the past two decades, including a seven-screen video-installation version of her feature-length magic-realist elegy to revolution, Women Without Men, 2009—offers a chance to reframe the Iranian-American artist’s work. With essays by Hart, Sussan Babaie, and Nancy Princenthal, the catalogue will examine Neshat’s dogged investigation of the paired structures of power and fantasy that undergird society in relation to a longer history of Persian cultural production.