Shirin Neshat. Dreamers trilogy: llusions & Mirrors, Sarah, Roja – Exhibition – Ponzano Romano – Church of Santa Maria ad Nives


© Shirin Neshat and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels | Shirin Neshat, Roja

Street address: Piazza S. Maria

Ticket cost: To access it is necessary to show the Covid-19 Green Certification (Green Pass) in analogue or digital format

The PRAC is pleased to announce the opening of the new exhibition project on Sunday 3 October 2021, at 10:00 “Dreamers trilogy: llusions & Mirrors, Sarah, Roja” conceived by the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat, curated by Graziano Menolascina and Annina Nosei and supported by the Gladstone Gallery of New York and Brussels for the spaces of the prestigious Church of Santa Maria ad Nives in the heart of the medieval village of Ponzano Romano.


Shirin Neshat internationally known for her filmic works and photographic series with which she explores the identity representations of the feminine and masculine in Iranian culture. Her elegant and rigorous film constructions earned her, in 2009, the Silver Lion for best direction at the Venice Film Festival with the feature film Men without women. Also in Venice, but as part of the Biennale d’Arte, in 1999 Neshat had already received the Golden Lion as the best international artist.

Dreamers is a video work composed of three short films, which narrate the dream world of Iranian women, in stark contrast to the harsh reality of their culture. These works draw on Shirin Neshat’s experience as a woman outside the box, crossing places and cultures without ever wanting to be part of them.

The Characters and their dreamy narratives are projections of the artist herself, in which she reflects her dreams and nightmares, exploring the anxieties at the root of the migrant and refugee’s cross-cultural experience, as a growing segment of the population of the contemporary world.

Neshat learns from Man Ray’s work the use of a glass plate in front of the camera lens to distort the image, a technique Neshat employs in Illusions & Mirrors to indicate the warped and indistinct dream space, thus altering the image of the real world.

Illusions & Mirrors, 2013, the first video of the suite, stars the actress Natalie Portman. Which is guided by a distant blurred figure on the dreamlike archetype of the beach, with the waves crashing on the shore and the sand dunes caressed by the wind, towards a ruined stately home. Neshat forgoes spoken language and instead uses visual effects to create a surreal atmosphere.

Sarah, 2016, second video of the suite, stars Sarah is played by Sara Issakharian, an artist of Iranian origin. The work is set in a dense forest, a mysterious and unknowable place. The short film is composed of a succession of non-linear scenes and the changes in the camera perspective create a disorienting feeling of a recurring dream.

Roja, 2016, last video of the suite, the narrative is more explicitly focused on Iran and Neshat’s dreams. Both Roja and Sarah have no actors; in the case of the writer Roja Roja Heydarpour, herself a first generation Iranian immigrant to America. As such, both works echo Neshat’s biography. Roja, in particular, can be read as the unconscious trying to reconcile its identity; its relationship with American culture and its identification with a country of origin that no longer exists, except as an island of nostalgia and memory.

Through these three video installations, Neshat recreates an unstable and fascinating constellation of the dream space, inviting the public to travel with her through an inner life to a destination defined by uncertainty.


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