Visual Discourses of (Un)veiling: Revisiting Women of Allah

in Seen and Unseen: Visual Cultures of Imperialism
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Albeit the fact that Shirin Neshat produced her first series of photography, Women of Allah in the 1990s, it is hard to overlook the series’ immediacy and relevancy to our world today as it has profound connections to the political and cultural contexts of the present world. Suffice it to say, the series is still on exhibition in different parts of the world which justifies its relevancy two decades after its production. The immediacy and relevancy of Women of Allah (1993-97) stem from the uneasiness and apprehension of the western world towards Muslims and veiled Muslim women. Neshat’s Women of Allah has the potential to function pedagogically and shatter the centuries-old stereotypes of Muslim women while questioning the Iran’s restrictive and confining rules upon women. Contrary to what the title of this chapter might suggest, this essay is not only a description of Neshat’s Women of Allah—about which there is now a very lively and enormous literature. While reviewing her work and accentuating its dialogical and pedagogical function, I bring to surface images of Muslim women (Women of Allah) on Iranian murals and posters and I argue that these have been Neshat’s specific source of inspiration which also acts on both pedagogical and dialogical levels.

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