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009 / 24 April 2016


Shirin Neshat

Turbulent (1998)

9 mins 38 secs


Turbulent (1998) is a two-screen video installation demonstrating the binaries in Iran's musical history. Between the dark and the light, the male and the female, the spiritual and the physical, we are confronted with social constructs, cultural loss, and that which can be regained.

'An important aspect of Turbulent is that women in Iran are prohibited from singing in public, and there are no recordings by female musicians. The piece took off in various directions and brought about other important questions about the male and female contrast in relation to the social structure. The ultimate question was how each would go about reaching a level of mystical expression inherent in the Sufi music.'

– Shirin Neshat.[1]


Turbulent, 1998. Video installation, black-and-white, sound; 10 minutes.

Conceived and directed by: Shirin Neshat.

Director of photography: Ghasem Ebrahimian. 

Female performer, vocalist, and composer: Sussan Deyhim. Male performer: Shoja Azari.

Vocalist for male performer: Shahram Nazeri.

Music for male performer composed by: Kambiz Roshan Ravan.

Producer: Bahman Soltani.

Production supervisor: Mario Chioldi.

Read an interview between the performer Sussan Deyhim and Channel Commissioning Editor, Sheyma Buali, here.


 [1] Shirin Neshat, interviewed by Arthur C. Danto, Bomb Magazine 73 (2000): http://bombmagazine.org/article/2332/shirin-neshat

About the author

Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat (born 1957, Qazvin), who lives and works in New York City, left Iran in 1974 to study in Los Angeles. She stayed in California, receiving her BFA and MFA at the University of California, Berkeley. She then moved to New York, where she married the Korean art curator Kyong Park; the two jointly ran the New York exhibition and performance space the Storefront for Art and Architecture. Neshat returned to Iran in 1990, eleven years after the Islamic Revolution, and was shocked by what she saw. That trip led to her first body of work, the photographic series Women of Allah, consisting of conceptual narratives on the subject of female warriors during the Revolution. Neshat works in photography, video, film, and performance, often addressing the theme of the alienation of women in repressed Muslim societies.