Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin, Iran, a small city two hours from Tehran in 1957. Neshat left Iran in 1974, aged 17, to study art at the University of California in Berkeley. The revolution meant that she was unable to return to Iran until 1990, and from this point her career as an artist began. Between 1993 and 1997 she produced a series of groundbreaking black and white photographs called Women of Allah, in which she superimposed Farsi calligraphy on the hands and faces of her subjects. Around this time, Neshat began to turn her attention and her aesthetic sensibility to film, and her reputation was made in 1999 when Turbulent won the international prize at the Venice Biennale. This later became part of her solo exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London, 2000.
She has since received a number of prizes, including the Grand prix of the Biennale in Korea. Neshat’s work has been shown worldwide in numerous group and solo exhibitions. The most notable of these being solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1998; Dallas Museum of Art, 2000; Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, 2000; National Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens, 2001; Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, 2002 and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 2006. She has also participated in many of the major biennials including Venice, Sydney, Johannesburg, Istanbul and the Whitney Biennial.
Her work as a video artist has been recognised through her exhibitions and participation at various film festivals including the Chicago International Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. She lives and works in New York.