Shirin Neshat’s, "Tooba," 2002

Shirin Neshat’s video, "Tooba," 2002, will be one of two exhibitions at The College of Wooster Art Museum Aug. 28 through Oct. 7. (Production Still; Copyright Shirin Neshat; Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels).


Two Exhibitions Open The College of Wooster Art Museum’s Season

“Tooba” by Shirin Neshat and Permanent Collections spotlight the Middle East

August 3, 2012 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The College of Wooster Art Museum (CWAM), in support of the 2012 Wooster Forum: “The Middle East,” will present two exhibitions that explore the Middle East from two perspectives — one contemporary and one historical — Aug. 28 through Oct. 7 in Ebert Art Center (1200 Beall Ave.). The opening reception will take place on Thursday, Sept. 6, from 6:30-8 p.m., with a gallery lecture at 7 p.m. by guest curators Sarah Mirza, assistant professor of religious studies, and Kara Morrow, assistant professor of art history.

The first exhibition, “Shirin Neshat: Tooba,” features the two-screen video, “Tooba,” 2002, by the internationally renowned Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, who left Iran in 1979 to study art in Los Angeles before the Iranian Revolution. Exiled during the Islamic Revolution, she was not allowed to return home until 1990. Since 1996, Neshat has worked in photography, video installations, and film — all covering difficult topics such as gender relations, Eastern and Western boundaries, the sacred and profane, and exile and belonging. Although she uses the specifics of her personal background as context, her work transcends geo-cultural borders.

The title and genesis for Neshat’s video derives from the name of a mythical female character in the Qur’an that suggests a sacred or promised tree. “Tooba,” was filmed with spare elegance in Oaxaca, Mexico, in what appears to be a traditional Sufi garden with a tree in the center of a walled enclosure. According to Kitty McManus Zurko, CWAM director/curator, this 12½-minute video is “a powerfully cinematic piece where both tension and intensity develop slowly.” As with much of Neshat’s work, “Tooba,” was inspired by literature; in this case, Women without Men: A Novel of Modern Iran, 1989, by Shahrnush Parsipur. In addition, a video interview with the artist will run continuously in the lobby of the museum throughout the exhibition.

Neshat’s work has been shown at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; the Serpentine Gallery, London; Prospect.1, New Orleans; documenta XI, Kassel, Germany, and the Venice Bienniale. A major retrospective of her work will open at the Detroit Institute of Art in 2013. The artist lives and works in New York City, and is represented by Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Running concurrently in the Burton D. Morgan Gallery, is “Middle Eastern Manuscripts, Ceramics, and Textiles” from the Permanent Collection. Guest curated by Sarah Mirza and Kara Morrow, this historically focused exhibition features Persian, Indian, and Iranian carpets, and manuscripts and ceramics that illustrate the dissemination of Middle Eastern designs and influences across regions and media.

In addition to the opening reception, there will be a Lunch in the Gallery event on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from noon-1 p.m., featuring a gallery walk and discussion led by McManus Zurko, and an evening screening of “Tooba” followed by a student-led discussion on Sept. 19 from 7-8 p.m.

The College of Wooster Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. All receptions, lectures, exhibitions, and performances are free and open to the public. Group and class tours are also available. For more information, or to arrange a tour, call 330-263-2388 or visit The College of Wooster Art Museum online.