“Gods of Suburbia”
Photographer Dina Goldstein recently released a project depicting religion in society through emphasized and dramatic photos. She does not focus on a singular religion but rather a plethora of religions to present a wide view of their situations in the real world. However, being based in Vancouver, Dina focuses mainly on influence in western culture as she obviously has the most experience there, but the touches she makes within her photographs exhibits hints of realization that the situations we face are also prevalent around the world, just to a different degree. Her curated images are powerful in presentation and invoke deep thought into it’s overall message.
She states in the accompanying video that her influence came from religious iconographies and so she is re-representing these icons in ways which show their influence and stature in modern culture. Her interest lies in how religion can even thrive in a society with such advancing technology and heightened secularism which is valid. It is an ongoing appearance in society that a state should not condone a single religion but rather all religions, accepting and integrating all faiths but in that has come a lack of faith. With an extreme rise in agnosticism and atheism in the 21st century, more and more people are steering away from religion, attempting to keep it enclosed and coined as ‘magical’ where faith is kept private. So in this where does religion find it’s place when it feels almost segregated or weakened. Add the rise in technology and people become less attracted to a practice of faith but rather practicing how fast they can text. In Dina’s images, we see everything from blinded shoppers to neglect of education to discrimination by children shows real-life scenarios of religion trying to be prominent in an ever changing society.
The issue raised in the article is based off of the reaction of her art. Some Hindu’s believe their gods are being wrongfully represented while others embrace the idea of their deities being represented by outside sources. It appears clear that she is not negatively depicting any of the gods but rather is creating a ideological state for the position they are in today. she reveals that “Suburbia” is not suburbia but rather a created world for her characters to be represented. As well, she clearly states that her intention is to show these religious icons “suffering the real human condition and trying to find their place in this world, as we do.” This statement exemplifies that a struggle existing in humans (that being existentialism) also occurs in the ideas of religion. I believe she has wonderfully represented how a society that is always progressing can create struggle for even the most powerful beings. Her quote, “Of course we all interpret gods in each differently but they really all exist because people believe in the first place”, exemplifies her observation of a wide range of religious world views, developing an empathetic and poetic narrative of pictures which effectively grasp the idea of societal struggle.