The work of Boston-born artist Shana Sadeghi-Ray highlights the rituals of object worship upon which society is based. Her kitsch, shrine-like installations and her magazine cut-out collages pinpoint the ways in which we assign meaning to the things we consume, whether that be trinkets, stuffed toys, clothing or entertainment.
Having studied fine art at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Shana moved to Brookyln where she began making a practice from her lifelong obsession with collecting. She tells us: “I’ve been a collector ever since I can remember. As a child, I would collect small pebbles, calling them ‘wish rocks’, and place upon them notions of good fortune. Getting older, it developed into collecting items which could be purchased. I am always looking for pieces to add. I try to keep things organised by subject.”
Shana describes her work as “a curated set of imagery revolving around the concepts of worship and obsession,” made up of miscellanea that she sources from “dollar stores, second hand shops, eBay, even discarded material on the ground.” The artist’s current work is exploring her “own personal fandom and love of basketball,” she tell us. This project emphasises the devotional character of Shana’s own addiction to a form of sporting entertainment and its surrounding paraphernalia with a kind of shrine to mascot teddies, an assigning of stock image symbolism to different teams based on colour associations, and glorified basketball hats and hoops.
By making an art of her obsession, Shana is playing on the veneration of objects that are placed in the category of art and the zealous devotion to things imbued with cultural significance. Not only this, but she has harnessed the overtones of object worship related to the consumerist worship of branded and designer clothing. Her work for Supreme and Nike turns her photographs of collected objects into wearable products, elevating these found items to the status of a label that customers purchase with a fanaticism bordering on reverence. The single object – often inane, and picked up by Shana having been discarded by someone else – becomes the mass-produced insignia of a brand, drawing attention to the innate absurdity of our merchandise devotion.
Shana says, however, that she prefers to curate her own art without the restrictions often attached to commercial work: “My personal work has no boundaries or limitations. With commercial work, you have to listen to your clients interests. Most instances, the work that gets chosen is not what I feel is my strongest and can end up far from the original vision.” She admits to us that “I rarely collaborate because I’m a bit of a control freak.”
And it’s not just objects that Shana collects, but experiences. In the spirit of a true hoarder, she says: “Right now the most important thing for me to do is to keep soaking up inspiration. It is hard to be creative all the time. Often ideas come when you’re not looking. I make a point to continue to wander, read and explore places I haven’t been to. All experiences are valid whether good or bad, to full up one’s internal well.”
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