Semester of Graduation

Fall 2020

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Art History

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Shirin Neshat, Shoja Azari, and Alia Ali are artists of Middle Eastern descent living and working in the United States, mainly in photographic and filmic modes. Neshat and Azari were born in Iran and immigrated to the U.S. amid the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which drastically changed the political and cultural landscape of the country. Ali was born in Yemen but her father is specifically South Yemeni and her mother Yugoslavian, two countries that no longer exist. As artists experiencing exile and diaspora, with complicated relationships to their home countries, their identities are muddled by hybridity and the struggle between being connected to home through memory but seeing a different landscape represented through Western media. By creating photographs and films that serve to reconnect the artists with their homes or their Middle Eastern identities, the artists awaken memories not accepted, or even suppressed by mass media and the West. As media frequently used to preserve memories, the works of Neshat, Ali, and Azari use photography and film to instead “create” new ones. In effect, Neshat, Azari, and Ali “recode” the archive; the artists apply media-created languages of stereotype and appropriate media connected to their cultures in order to re-appropriate their individual histories—private memories—into the official history.

Committee Chair

Young, Allison

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