• Installation view of Shirin Neshat: Fervor, 2000; two-channel video; B&W, sound; 10 min. University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive; General Acquisitions Fund purchase. Photo: Impart Photography.

Shirin Neshat: Fervor

This timely presentation of Shirin Neshat’s work Fervor (2000) from the BAMPFA collection demonstrates the visual power and political critique that her work is known for. Born in Iran, Neshat received her MFA from UC Berkeley in 1982. Having departed Iran to begin her studies before the 1979 Revolution, she was shocked by the dramatic cultural shift toward Islamic fundamentalism she witnessed upon returning in the 1990s. In the film, carefully composed aerial views and close-ups depict the meeting and diverging paths of a man and woman, as well as the sexual desire that colors their brief interactions. The side-by-side black-and-white projection style in Fervor not only exemplifies her interest in binary oppositions, but also divides the attention of the viewer between two perspectives in the same way that Neshat’s own critiques are driven by her split experiences in the time before and after the revolution, divided by her time in the United States. On view during New Time: Art and Feminisms in the 21st Century and as women’s rights in Islamic countries rise to headlines, this BAMPFA collection highlight represents art’s ability to address the defining questions of our contemporary moment.