new-york

Shirin Neshat

Gladstone Gallery | West 21st St

DESPITE SHIRIN NESHAT'S RECENT SUCCESSES (her 1998 film Turbulent earned top honors at the 1999 Venice Biennale; last year brought awards from the Kwangju Biennale, CalArts, and the Edinburgh International Festival), this latest show disappointed. While her earlier films pivoted on social issues like the politics of desire in a sex-segregated state, this trio of works leaned toward heavy-handed dramatizations of hackneyed “universal” themes: life, death, insanity.

In the short black-and-white film Pulse (all works 2001), a woman wails in a gothic interior next to a large-knobbed, old-fashioned radio. Hinting at the havoc wreaked by censorship, Neshat sells her subject too hard: The film eventually drowns in its own dark cinematography, Sussan Deyhim's baroque sound track, and the dramatic keening of the actress (Shohreh Aghdashloo). Passage, an eleven-and-a-half-minute epic with a score by

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