Shirin Neshat “The Home of My Eyes”
“The Home of my Eyes” was Shirin Neshat’s first exhibition in Baku and focused on a major new commission, produced following the artist’s time in Azerbaijan. A project curated and instigated by Dina Nasser Khadivi and supported by Yarat, the exhibition also included two of Neshat’s earlier works, the seminal video installations “Soliloquy” (1999) and “Passage” (2001). The commission, “The Home of My Eyes” (2015) was built on Neshat’s growing interest in portraiture. During the time she spent in Azerbaijan in 2014, Neshat photographed over 50 individuals who came from communities across the country, of ages ranging from two to eighty years old and while making the photographs Neshat asked participants questions regarding their cultural identity and their concept of home. The resulting responses were written in calligraphy over each individual portrait. The assembled images made up a monumental installation which filled two entire walls of the 11metre-high exhibition galleries of YARAT Contemporary Art Space – a converted Soviet-era naval building. The overall installation of photographs ultimately conveyed the portrait of a nation that has been built around cultural and ethnic diversity. Neshat’s conceptual approach showcased the incredible amalgamation that is present in Azerbaijan. Later upon the inauguration of the exhibition in Baku, an interactive feature was initiated by the curator inviting each viewer, including international guests, to answer a similar questionnaire to the one the artist used for her sitters. These answers were pinned together with those given by local visitors on a wall inside the exhibition space for public display, showcasing as such the complexity of the definition the word “home” has in today’s world. Part of the installation for “The Home of my Eyes” was later shown at the Museo Correr during the 55th Venice Biennale in an exhibition curated by Thomas Kellein and some of the works will also be featured in Shirin Neshat’s upcoming retrospective at the Broad Museum in Los Angeles.