Shirin Neshat was born in Qazvin in 1957. She is an Iranian video and installation artist who explores the political and social conditions of Iranian and Muslim life in her works, particularly focusing on women and feminist issues. She left the country to study art in the United States at 17; she graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982. When she returned to her home country in 1990, she found it barely recognizable from the Iran before the 1979 revolution, a shocking experience that incited the meditations on memory, loss, and contemporary life in Iran that are central to her work. Her Women of Allah series, created in the mid-1990s, introduced the hallmark themes of her pieces through which she examines conditions of male, female, public, private, religious, political, and secular identities in both Iranian and Western cultures. Her videos, installations, and photographs have received great critical acclaim outside of Iran. Her work has been exhibited at Venice, Istanbul and Johannesburg Biennials, Art Institute of Chicago, Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and Tate Gallery in London, among other institutions. Neshat currently lives and works in New York.