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Looking for Oum Kulthum - Faurschou Foundation Honors Shirin Neshat's Film

  • Shirin Neshat, From “Looking For Oum Kulthum” series (2017) © Shirin Neshat
March 19, 2018
Balasz Takac is alias of Vladimir Bjelicic who is actively engaged in art criticism, curatorial and artistic practice.

One of the leading and perhaps most inspiring Iranian woman artists, Shirin Neshat has definitely managed to position herself in the terms of the global art world by carefully articulating cultural and social specificity of the East in regards to both growing religious fundamentalism and process of westernization.

Through the media of photography, film, and video, the artist is focusing mostly on the position of women in the Muslim societies.

A privately owned art institution Faurschou Foundation, founded in 2011 in Copenhagen, will present Neshat’s solo exhibition centered on her new feature film Looking for Oum Kulthum. As the title suggests, the narrative leads us through the story about an Iranian woman director who is shooting a film about the most famous singer of the Arab world, Oum Kulthum.

From “Looking For Oum Kulthum” series
Shirin Neshat, From “Looking For Oum Kulthum” series (2017) © Shirin Neshat

Looking for Oum Kulthum – The Story of a Woman’s Emancipation

Shirin Neshat was brought up in a traditional family, but her father was a great admirer of the Western system of values so feminist ideas were not unfamiliar to her. The artist left Iran to study art, finished her schooling, yet she started actively producing works only ten years later.

By constantly questioning the issues of gender, identity, and politics in the Arab world, Shirin Neshat has established a unique oeuvre which has been often critically acclaimed and represented in the context of feminist art practices. Although the artist displayed the psychological, social and political impacts on woman’s experience mostly through photographs and video, in the last decade it is her films that made her even more famous.

Shirin Neshat – From “Looking for Oum Kulthum”

Behind The Lens of Shirin Neshat

An outstanding feature film, Looking for Oum Kulthum can be perceived as a film within a film. An Iranian woman artist/filmmaker living in exile embarks on an extraordinary journey through which she examines herself as an artist as she plunges into the life and art of the legendary female singer.

In 2017, the film had its premiere at the Giornate degli Autori film festival in Venice, while at the Faurschou Foundation, it will be presented in the form of an exhibition based on thorough historical research on Kulthum’s career, personal life, fascinating fame and her overall cultural legacy.

Looking for Oum Kulthum is a Razor Film production, in co-production with Coop99, In Between Art Film, Vivo film, Schortcut Films in association with Doha Film Institute, in collaboration with ORF and other associates.

From “Looking For Oum Kulthum” series
Shirin Neshat, From “Looking For Oum Kulthum” series (2017) © Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat at Faurschou Foundation

The exhibition Looking for Oum Kulthum at Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen will be open from March 20th until September 7th, 2018. The audience will have a chance to dive into the life of this magnificent larger-than-life persona and look into the development and production of the 6- year-long film production.

In recent years Faurschou Foundation has displayed the works of Shirin Neshat in both solo and group exhibitions. In 2008, they presented Neshat’s film Women Without Men in Beijing, for which she won the Silver Lion for best director at the 66th Venice Film Festival. This was followed by the continuation of collaboration on presenting both video and photographic works.

Featured image: Shirin Neshat, From “Looking For Oum Kulthum” series (2017) © Shirin Neshat. All images courtesy of Faurschou Foundation Copenhagen.