Diasporic Narratives of Self-Expression: The Visual Culture of Female Middle Eastern Identities
For any individual, moving from one culture to another can be a completely unique and often challenging experience. The physical, cultural and emotional implications associated with migration have been invested in the contemporary works of artists Shirin Neshat and Mona Hatoum. Both share a passion for storytelling through their works, which convey their personal experiences of moving from Global South to North.
Stories of voluntary and involuntary exile frame the works of both Neshat and Hatoum, referencing their countries of origin and comparing them to where they situate themselves today.
Neshat’s childhood in Iran was affected by a feeling of disconnectedness from those around her. After moving to the United States to study art, she found that this feeling of disconnectedness remained. The effects of the Iranian Revolution in 1978 separated her from her loved ones for over 10 years. Neshat’s works illustrate her struggle settling into both Iranian as well as American culture.
Hatoum tells her story of taking a short trip from Lebanon to the United Kingdom in 1975, when she is suddenly confronted by the news of war breaking out at home. She is left ‘stranded’, manifesting themes of disconnectedness, exile and isolation into her works.
These artists draw on their experiences of feeling displaced and separated within society, two themes tied strongly to the term ‘Diaspora’. Diasporic narratives presented by the two artists call attention to the inequalities and injustices faced by these minority groups.
This dissertation explores two works from each artist to understand the feelings and experiences associated with diaspora.
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