Shirana Shahbazi’s work engages with photographic genres, investigating how they are transformed and circulated. Her images are crisply rendered adapting the style of commercial photography, which gives them both a sense of familiarity and a deliberate stylistic mutability. Shahbazi approaches recognizable categories like portraiture, still-life, and landscape photography with a distinctly analytical approach. Her work also investigates the translation of images between media and modes of production; in the past, for example, the artist has contracted billboard painters or carpet makers in her native Iran to transfer her photographs to new physical forms. Shahbazi’s embrace of the quotidian photograph is an attempt to document the lives of images, exposing how we look and how we use what we see.
For the New Museum, Shahbazi has created a site-specific wallpaper installation, the second such work to be installed in the Museum’s lobby. The photo-based work isolates objects and images, including a vase of flowers, a piece of fruit, and a beautiful young woman in a moment of reflection, laid out on geometric blocks of color. Although the style of these photographs is reminiscent of print or billboard advertising, they also have the feel of images appropriated from historical genre paintings, symbolic objects excised from still lives and other forms of memento mori. The scale and dramatic composition of Shahbazi’s installation elegantly monumentalize these fragments; it envelops the viewer in a situation that encourages an active and critical engagement with visual culture.
Sharina Shahbazi was born in Tehran, Iran in 1974. She studied photography at the Fachhochschule Dortmund, Germany and Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst, Zurich, Switzerland. Her work has been exhibited at venues including the Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland; Barbican Art Gallery, London; the Swiss Institute, New York; the Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Shabazi lives and works in Zurich.