artist shirin neshat joins the growing group of prominent iranian women that are making an impact on western views, the book of kings (2012) has attracted wide acclaim for it’s powerful portrayal of islamic youth against the backdrop of the pre-islamic invasion persian epic; the zoroastrian ‘shah nameh’ and other poems. i am particularly interested in neshat’s work because of my preoccupation with the different cultural identities; in the middle-east identity has become fraught with insecurity due to the turbulent religious-socio-political milieu and western ideals having eroded amongst other things the cohesion of tribal cultures. in the book of kings, neshat references the historical and mythical text by overlaying the portraits with its phrases and thus imbuing the fragile permanence of a shared collective memory that is poignantly metaphoric in that some are more vivid and others are more faded… the conflict of a people and their identity is so beautifully embodied in the heritage of the poet’s words.
though death may take me in his cruel clutch
my verse will give men joy-
it is a monument time cannot touch
nor wind nor rain destroy.