Review of Shirin Neshat’s Turbulent (1998)

Jan 23, 2017 · 2 min read
Shirin Neshat - Turbulent (1998) still

Shirin Neshat’s 1998 new media art work titled Turbulent is a nine (9) minute video showing the performances of a man and a woman. The video begins by showing two screens showing a male audience on the left and empty seats on the right. Then we see a male singer on the left screen performing a song before a group of men with his back turned to them. He knows for sure that he will be accepted by his male audience with his back turned to them and it is evident with how comfortable and strongly he is during and after his performance.

Shirin Neshat — Turbulent (1998) still

During the man’s performance, the woman on the right screen stands silently throughout the performance facing the empty seats presented before her. There is no one present for her, alluding that no one will want to her her performance and should stay quiet while the man sings. She has no choice but to accept her position and circumstance for she is a woman.

This juxtaposition depicts the male privilege and how no matter the what the man faces, he will always be in a more advantageous position than the woman. The men will support each other by applauding and accepting the way of each other no matter how foolish and wrong it is, because they are the dominant gender.

Shirin Neshat — Turbulent (1998) still

However, while the male singer is accepting his praise, the female singer interrupts his ovation and begins to sing her passionate piece. The camera then begins to move around her form revealing to us her face and her movements as she delivers her piece. She performs her song allowing her emotions to be shown for us to see. She performs directly to the empty auditorium, confidently and passionately as if she were performing for a present audience. This woman represents the voices of women who are constant victims of being the underprivileged gender within this world.

Shirin Neshat’s Turbulent (video)

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