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Iranian visual artist Shirin Neshat on how exile is a driving force in her work

About the Episode

Iranian artist Shirin Neshat is known for her images of women that pose probing questions about the female body within Islam and Iranian culture. This hour, she reflects on her life and work in exile.

About Shirin Neshat

<strong> "Offered Eyes" (1993)</strong><strong> Copyright Shirin Neshat. </strong><strong>Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels</strong>
/ Shirin Neshat
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Shirin Neshat
"Offered Eyes" (1993) Copyright Shirin Neshat. Courtesy of the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels

Shirin Neshat is perhaps the most famous living Iranian artist in the world. She has lived in the United States, in exile from her native Iran, for most of her adult life. Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran, a small city two hours from Tehran in 1957. In 1974, she was sent to the U.S. to complete her education. The Islamic Revolution in 1979 prevented her from returning to her country of origin for over a decade. This experience, living in exile and being caught between two cultures, is the driving force of Neshat's creative work. Her photographs, videos, and feature films offer a glimpse into the social, religious and political realities that shape her identity—and those of millions of Iranian and Muslim women.

Neshat's provocative and controversial workhas been exhibited throughout the world and at many major international art exhibitions, including the XLVIII Venice Biennale, where she won the top prize in 1999. Her first feature film, Women Without Men, tells the stories of four women struggling to escape oppression in Tehran. It won her the Silver Lion for best director at the 2010 Venice Film Festival.


This episode was produced by Harsha Nahata with help from Katie Monteleone. It was edited by Sanaz Meshkinpour, Manoush Zomorodi and Rachel Faulkner White. Our TED Radio Hour production staff also includes James Delahoussaye, Andrea Gutierrez, Matthew Cloutier, Fiona Geiran, Julia Carney, and Beth Donovan. Our intern is Susannah Broun.

Zazil Davis-Vasquez helped with research. Audio and video were recorded by Tsering Bista, Annabel Edwards and Nickolai Hammar. Video was edited by Christina Shaman.

This episode was engineered by Maggie Luthar and Neil Tevault.

You can follow us on Facebook @TEDRadioHour and email us at TEDRadioHour@npr.org.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Manoush Zomorodi is the host of TED Radio Hour. She is a journalist, podcaster and media entrepreneur, and her work reflects her passion for investigating how technology and business are transforming humanity.
Harsha Nahata
Harsha Nahata (she/her) is a producer for TED Radio Hour. She is drawn to storytelling as a way to explore ideas about identity and question dominant narratives.
Rachel Faulkner is a producer for TED Radio Hour and How I Built This, where she produces, scores and edits episodes.