The Home of My Eyes is an exhibition of works by Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat (b.1957). Held at the Museo Correr as part of the Venice Biennale’s collateral programme, this new presentation features a selection of photographs from The Home of My Eyes series (2015) and a new video, Roja (2016). Representing a shift in the artist’s practice, these pieces diverge from her former focus on her native Iranian society, and examine, instead, notions of home within other cultures. Notably, The Home of My Eyes reflects on communities living in Azerbaijan through a sequence of 55 photographic portraits inscribed with ink.
The country resonates deeply with Neshat, as much of its history, religion, ethnicity and culture is shared with Iran. The artist describes the series as “a portrait of a country that for so long has been a crossroads of many different ethnicities, religions and languages.” Each sitter’s individual character, age and ethnicity can be observed within the frontal, close-up portraits, yet they are also unified through similar clothing, dark backdrop and stances that make reference to Christian religious paintings by the likes of El Greco. Texts drawn from each subject’s response to cultural identity and concept of home, as well as words from 12th century Iranian poet Nizami Ganjavi, litter the surface of every portrait.
On a different note, Roja, reflects on the artist’s experience of living in the foreign culture of the US. Based on Neshat’s dreams and memories, the film considers an Iranian woman’s nostalgia for her homeland and her shifting position between her original and adopted homes. Employing a surrealist lens and nonlinear narrative, Roja explores feelings of displacement, the blurred lines of reality and fiction, and tensions between the past and present.
As a collateral event of the 57th International Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, the Museo Correr shows 26 of Neshat’s portraits from The Home of My Eyes alongside Roja at the Sala di Quattro Porte on the third floor, within the collection at the Piazza San Marco. The presentation is curated by Thomas Kellein and is supported by The Written Art Foundation, Frankfurt am Main.
Shirin Neshat, The Home of My Eyes, 13 May-26 November, Museo Correr, Piazza San Marco, Venice.
1. Shirin Neshat, Ilgara, from The Home of My Eyes series, 2015. Silver Gelatin Print and Ink. Courtesy Written Art Foundation, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.