Shirin Neshat at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C.
When you catch the right wavelength that communicates the nuances of a vast and varied culture to a wide global audience, you want to grasp onto it. Shirin Neshat, one might say, has achieved this; and, in the past two decades, she has become an icon of contemporary Iranian – and Middle Eastern – art in the process. You may have seen Neshat’s characteristic images before: large, evocative, black-and-white photographs with Persian calligraphy inscribed on them, many of which show women in veils holding weapons, at times powerful and aggressive, and at others, withdrawn and submissive. Her current major exhibition at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., however, will mark the end of this chapter in her career, according to the artist.