When exiled Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat decided to dedicate her new project to the Egyptian Revolution, she wanted to "investigate the universal experience of pain and mourning on both a personal and national level." And wow did she — below is a series of stunning black and white photographs that she hoped would compel the viewer to "acknowledge the toll of political and social upheaval that results when people deny humanity to those whom they perceive as the 'other.'"What's so impressive is how she captured a feeling of intensity and deep pain in the images by asking her Egyptian subjects to share their stories of tragedy before the camera, capturing a poignant connection between the person in front of the camera and us.
Read from her Washington Post interview why Shirin decided to pair the portraits with indecipherable calligraphy:
"Every little wrinkle is covered in millions of words so aesthetically, it’s a work of labor. Coming from Iran, I have an inherent passion for poetry, beauty and all things that come from classic Islamic and Persian art. But all of my work has a strong footing in dark, disturbing political reality. So the beauty, darkness, violence and spirituality in this exhibit is paradoxical. This is my signature as an artist and it’s also the signature of the Iranian people that they’re so divided in their poetry and their politics. So the calligraphy for me and the inclusion of text in the image comes directly from tradition. It’s a way of adding a dimension about humanity, it’s all of the positive things echoed into a concept that is extremely disturbing and dark."