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Vancouver Photographer Examines Religion In Modern Society (PHOTOS)

If Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad Lived In 2014

Vancouver photographer Dina Goldstein is no stranger to stirring the pot.

You may not know her by name, but you've likely seen her photos. Goldstein is known for her controversial work, namely "Fallen Princesses" (a dark twist on female Disney heroines) and "In The Dollhouse" (the dissolving of Barbie and Ken's marriage).

Now she's taking on an even bigger subject: religion.

In her new series, Gods of Suburbia, Goldstein examines the role of faith in our modern society. She takes traditional religious and mythological iconography — everyone from Jesus to Buddha — and plunks them into today's world in order to explore how they intertwine.

"I've always been very interested in religion and faith," Goldstein says in a behind-the-scenes video. "So Gods of Suburbia is my visual analysis of religion within a modern context."

Suburbia references the world that Goldstein created for 11 characters: a place where they struggle to decipher what they believe in and where they belong.

"Here they are able to live and function as we do — and also experience the real human condition where they suffer and they find themselves contemplating their place in this world as we do," she says in the video.

The series features an array of religious figures including Hindu goddess of wealth and beauty Lakshmi trying to embody the "modern woman" who is beautiful, professionally successful, and a good mother, too.

But perhaps the most jarring photo in the group is "Last Supper, East Vancouver," a Downtown Eastside twist on Leonardo da Vinci's classic painting. Instead of a feast, there are empty beer cans and soup in plastic bowls.

As Goldstein describes on her website:

My reenactment of history’s most famous dinner party is meant to portray the treatment of the most vulnerable by society. I have placed Jesus and his Apostles, a street gang, specifically in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. This is Canada’s poorest postal code and a place of chronic drug abuse, alcohol addiction and mental illness. Jesus and the Apostles consume the diet of street people: cheap packaged noodles, cheap beer and canned tuna, while Judas plots his betrayal of Jesus. In Vancouver, so much money has flowed into the Downtown Eastside, but it is still a place of violence, addiction and homelessness. Like Judas, who betrayed Jesus for money, many have benefitted from initiatives to help Vancouver’s poor, yet the poor still have nothing.

See the whole series:

Gods of Suburbia

'Gods of Suburbia' by Dina Goldstein

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