fbpx Shirin Neshat, WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM | CIRCA 20:22

CIRCA 20:22


1-4 October

The Cultural Institute of Radical Contemporary Art (CIRCA) is proud to present WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM, an urgent public commission by celebrated Iranian artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, broadcasting 1-4 October 2022 across Europe’s largest screen, Piccadilly Lights, and Pendry West Hollywood, Los Angeles at 20:22 local time.

Since CIRCA first broadcast on Piccadilly Lights with Ai Weiwei on the 1st October 2020, a new conception of freedom and imagination has begun to take hold, one that reminds us of our collective potential to remake the world we inhabit. Together, emerging and established voices are recentering both art and social change, not as the fringe activities of elites or radicals, but as roles essential to human life. In an open letter published earlier this week, Shirin Neshat, Ali Abassi and Bahman Ghodabi invited people around the world to further echo the rallying cries of Iranians for freedom. Through this cross-atlantic response and countless others, hope prevails.

Our potential to create new worlds is not lost but sleeping. Influenced by the science fiction writer Octavia Butler, author Adrienne Maree Brown argues that ‘all organizing is science fiction’; that together, we imagine a better world, then fight to make it real. Through a combination of urgency and care, Shirin Neshat selected two pivotal works from her Women of Allah series (1993-1997) titled Moon Song and Unveiling. Coinciding with an eruption of international protests in solidarity with those risking their lives for basic human rights, WOMAN LIFE FREEDOM serves as a strong and symbolic accompaniment to the slogan being voiced across Iran.

Shirin Neshat, said:

As an artist devoted to making art that resonates to her people in Iran and internationally beyond just the art world, it feels like a perfect fit to work with CIRCA whose main premise is to make art accessible to a larger public, particularly in a time of crisis when people are looking for meaning and hope in the midst of chaos and political injustice.


Moon Song forms part of Shirin Neshat’s series Women of Allah, created between 1993 and 1997 after the artist’s first return to Iran since the Islamic Revolution (1979) “In this work and in some of the other images in the series, I tried to capture the identity conflict that exists amongst Iranians, who are caught between their rich ancient Persian history, and a non-secular Islamic identity, which was brought by force after the Islamic Republic of Iran hijacked the 1979 Revolution.”

For me, the meaning of the text and the bullets suggests the modern and contemporary reality of Iran, while the paisley and other floral motifs are symbolic of Iranians’ rich ancient Persian history. In my view this cultural contradiction has been the Iranians’ biggest grief and dilemma who are struggling between these two opposing identities. The majority of Iranians do not identify, nor feel comfortable abiding to such oppressive Islamic codes and laws.

The Farsi text inscribed on the left hand is an excerpt from the magic realist book The Drowned written by the Iranian female author Moniro Ravanipour. “I was inspired by the writer’s visual and imaginative narrative that makes an allegorical analogy between a storm taking place under the sea and the political climate on land, as Iranians struggled with their life circumstances in turbulent times.”

The Women of Allah series of photographs addresses the complexities of women’s identity in the midst of a changing cultural and political landscape in Iran after the 1979 revolution. Inspired by newspaper clippings circulating at the time of the Iranian Revolution and during the Iran-Iraq War, Neshat attempted to capture and question the contradictory nature of militant Muslim women, who stood at a peculiar intersection of love, devotion and faith yet violence, cruelty and death. Four symbolic elements recur in this work: the veil, the gun, the text and the gaze. The farsi inscribed texts, overlayed on the surface of
the images are excerpts of poems written by Iranian female poets and writers.


Screen locations

20:22 GMT London, Piccadilly Lights



01/10/2022 Press Release: Shirin Neshat, Woman Life Freedom
04/10/2022 Shirin Neshat joins protests against Iran's worsening human rights situation with new digital works
15/10/2022 Artist Shirin Neshat on the women-led protests in Iran
26/10/2022 Iranian Women’s Perseverance Is a Work of Art
30/10/2022 Shirin Neshat: 'Biggest uprising since Islamic revolution'