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Shirin Neshat and Larissa Sansour: Transnational Stars, (Trans)regional Constellation

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings - With ISBN/ISSNChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Publication date22/08/2024
Host publicationThe Handbook of Iranian Cinema
EditorsMichelle Langford, Maryam Ghorbankarimi, Zahra Khosroshahi
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
ISBN (print)9780755648153
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Publication series

NameI B Tauris Handbooks
PublisherIB Tauris


This chapter constellates work by transnational artist/filmmakers Shirin Neshat, a New York-resident Iranian, and Larissa Sansour, a London-based Palestinian, addressing a surprising comparative lacuna – given the star profile of these two figures on Euro-western art circuits – but one indicative of limited critical linkage between Iran and other SWANA creative contexts. Both Neshat and Sansour live in diaspora but centre cultures of heritage in their artwork. They have followed similar artistic trajectories, first producing work that fuses image and text; then short, often multi-channel films; and, most recently, longer narrative cinema (an indication of their growing stature and fundability). They share several aesthetic tendencies and have each accrued considerable capital, with Neshat winning both the 1999 Golden Lion (1998) and the 2009 Silver Lion in Venice; and Sansour representing Denmark at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The chapter first teases out what predisposes these artists to transnational consecration, before exploring resonant eco-poetical aspects of their work. The artwork discussed reflexively engages multiple audiences, whether in cutting against the grain of representational politics pertaining to ‘Muslim women’ or through expansive scalar impulses beyond the nation to the region, globe, and even cosmos. Conversely, a shared re-rooting of heterodox communities in the SWANA region responds both to cosmopolitan Persian and Palestinian histories and to the regional effects of planetary damage. Video installations and films by Neshat and Sansour salvage histories besieged by the long durée of imperialism and provide alternatives to anthro- as well as androcentric SWANA histories.