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Shirin Neshat - This year's winner of the 01 Award

On January 29, the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat was honored with this year's 01 Award. For the past five years, the University of Art (Universität der Künste) has bestowed this award – which arose out of a public/private partnership begun in 1998 between the UdK Berlin and Deutsche Bank/Private & Business Clients – for outstanding artistic or scientific achievement in the multimedia field. The interdisciplinary jury's most important criterion of selection is an unusual contribution to the closer cooperation between art, science, and private business.

In her videos and photographic works, Shirin Neshat, known to a wider public at the very latest since her participation in documenta 11, examines the image of women in Moslem society following the Revolution of 1979. Neshat created her first photographic series Women of Allah (more here) between 1993 and 1997, which attracted international attention. In these photographic works, which include numerous self-portraits as a militant Moslem woman in a chador, she painted lines of Iranian poetry in Farsi over the uncovered bodily parts in the photographs, thus offering an image discourse on the subject of feminism and contemporary Islam.

Since the late nineties, Neshat has been working primarily with video. While she previously introduced text as an additional plane in her works, music and singing have become significant in her video installations as a universal force.

In her video works Turbulent, Rapture, and Fervor from 1998–2000, Neshat works with stark contrasts and double projections. In the process, the artist has developed a pictorial language whose forcefulness seizes the viewer; with a critical and emotional view, she continues her investigation of the cultural, social, and political situation in Iran, juxtaposing it with Western social and cultural norms.

The 01 Award includes an honorary professorship at the UdK. Prior to Shirin Neshat, Alan C. Kay, Enno Patalas, Frieda Grafe, Nicholas Negroponte, and Brian Eno received the prize.

Shirin Neshat (m.) is looking forward to the award and the professorship. The president of the UdK Berlin, Prof. Lothar Romain (left), and the representative of the Deutsche Bank, Dr. Klaus Winker, congratulate her. Photo: Mathias Heyde