Parrish Art: ‘Looking for Oum Kulthum’ Screening & Talk / November 16




Friday, November 16, 6 PM


The film’s collaborator Shoja Azari and Neshat discuss the film,

which tells her personal story inspired by the art and life of iconic Egyptian singer Oum Kulthum 


The Parrish Art Museum will screen Looking for Oum Kulthum by international award-winning, Iranian-born visual artist and filmmaker Shirin Neshat, on Friday, November 16, at 6pm. Looking for Oum Kulthum (2017, NR, 90 min) centers on Mitra—an Iranian woman filmmaker living in exile who has embarked on a project about the life and art of Oum Kulthum, the legendary Egyptian diva considered the greatest Arab singer of all time. Like the heroine of her story, Mitra faces the struggles and sacrifices of a woman who dares to find her place in a conservative, male-dominated society. The screening will be followed by a talk with Neshat and her partner and collaborator Shoja Azari, moderated by Corinne Erni, Senior Curator for ArtsReach and Special Projects at the Parrish.


“I am thrilled to invite Shirin Neshat to the Parrish with her second feature film—probably her most personal work to date—and to speak with her about her art, her life, and what it means to be a woman artist from the Middle East,” said Erni.


After extensive research on Kulthum (1902-1975), who sold more than 80 million records worldwide and was known as the Maria Callas of the Orient, Neshat approached the film as a personal story, sharing her own perspectives and challenges. Through simultaneous explorations of three main characters of the film—Kulthum, Mitra, and Ghada (the Egyptian actress who plays the role of Oum Kulthum in the film within a film), the narrative reveals the struggles of Middle Eastern women over several generations. Critically acclaimed internationally, and called “genius” by Blouin ArtInfo, Looking for Oum Kulthum was one of 12 films selected worldwide to premiere at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in 2017.


Neshat—whose work centers on the contrasts between Islam and the West, femininity and masculinity, public life and private life, antiquity and modernity—began her career as a photographer before expanding into filmmaking and stage directing. Her most recent photographic series include The Book of Kings (2012), The Home of My Eyes (2015) and the trilogy Dreamers comprised of three video installations. She has been featured in solo and group exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Art Institute of Chicago; Serpentine Gallery, London; documenta XI, Germany; the 2000 Whitney Biennial; and the 1999 Venice Biennale. In 2009, Neshat directed her first feature-length film, Women Without Men, which received the Silver Lion Award for Best Director at the 66th Venice International Film Festival. She completed Looking for Oum Kulthum in 2017, the same year that she directed Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida at the Salzburg Festival.


Neshat was awarded The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize in 2006 that is given annually to “a man or woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the beauty of the world and to mankind’s enjoyment and understanding of life.” In 2010 she was named Artist of the Decade by Huffington Post critic G. Roger Denson


Shoja Azari is an Iranian born filmmaker and visual artist who lives and works in New York. Azari’s feature films, K, Windows, Women Without Men, and Simple Little Lives have been screened widely at film festivals around the world.


Friday Nights are made possible, in part, by the generous support of The Corcoran Group, BNB Bank, and Sandy and Steven Perlbinder. 



Friday, November 16, 6:00pm

Looking for Oum Kulthum

2017, NR, 90 min., Razor Films

Director/Writer: Shirin Neshat

Co-director/Writer: Shoja Azari

Followed by a talk with the filmmakers moderated by Corinne Erni, Senior Curator for ArtsReach and Special Projects  

$20 | $5 for Members, Children, and Students 



Parrish Art Museum 


Inspired by the natural setting and artistic life of Long Island’s East End, the Parrish Art Museum illuminates the creative process and how art and artists transform our experiences and understanding of the world and how we live in it. The Museum fosters connections among individuals, art, and artists through care and interpretation of the collection, presentation of exhibitions, publications, educational initiatives, programs, and artists-in1residence. The Parrish is a center for cultural engagement, an inspiration and destination for the region, the nation, and the world.


Parrish Art Museum construction photos © Jeff Heatley.


AAQ Resource / Transportation: Riverhead Toyota 



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