DINA GOLDSTEIN - Conceptual Photography

Conceptual photography is a type of photography that illustrates an idea. There has been illustrative photographs made since the medium's invention, for example in the earliest staged photographs, such as Hippolyte Bayard's Self Portrait as a Drowned Man (1840). However, the term Conceptual Photography derives from Conceptual Art a movement of the late 1960s. Today the term is used to describe either a methodology or a genre. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_photography

DINA GOLDSTEIN b. 1969 Tel Aviv, Israel

Dina began her career over 25 years ago as a photojournalist, evolving from a documentary and editorial photographer into an independent artist focusing on large scale productions of nuanced photographic tableaux. Her work is highly conceptual and complex, incorporating cultural archetypes and iconography with narratives inspired by the collective unconscious and human condition. The vivid and provocative still imagery emerges through an entirely cinematic technique, with Dina’s established methodology following a precise pre- to post production process. Leaning into the visual language of pop surrealism, she stages narrative compositions that expose the underbelly of modern life, challenging the notions of cultural influence and inherent belief systems.

Goldstein’s first foray into tableau was in 2007 when she was inspired by personal events to produce the highly conceptual and controversial Fallen Princesses, a 10 piece series that features fairy tale characters dealing with modern day scourges such as poverty, Cancer, addiction and obesity. The works challenge the “happily ever after” motif embraced by Western society and exploited by Walt Disney. By incorporating Disney-esque textures and colors, Fallen Princesses exposes the consumerism that has negated the true intentions of these ancient parables. Since the series debut in 2009 the Princesses have received much attention online and in the press. The series is exhibited internationally, and studied within gender courses, art and photography programs. Dina continued to focus and explore upon themes of disillusionment with In The Dollhouse , premiered in 2012, a 10-part series placed within an adult-sized dollhouse belonging to Barbie and Ken — This dark sequential narrative explores the embrace of superficiality over reality. Shot entirely on an elaborately constructed set that imitated a Barbie dollhouse, this project dissected the concept of ‘beauty as power’ as well as beauty as a source of happiness. When Ken, Barbie’s handsome husband, expresses his individuality and embraces his true self, the value of beauty as an apex trait is exposed as cheap and as plastic as the dolls themselves. In 2013 Dina opened her studio ‘XX’, with a retrospective to celebrate 20 years of photography. For this exhibition Dina selected 20 pivotal pieces that built and developed her practice. Her next undertaking was Gods Of Suburbia, 2014, where she received her first Canada Council grant to help support this massive initiative, which was a critical exploration of established and fringe religions. Contemplative and complex, the project took two years to complete. ‘Gods Of Suburbia’ places deities — drawn from polytheistic to Abrahamic traditions — in everyday situations. By offering an iconoclastic interpretation of how ancient belief systems fit into modernity’s three pillars: technology, science and secularism, the surreal incongruities that were created challenges viewers to contemplate the relevance of ancient ethics and morals in a society characterized by materialism and consumerism. Modern Girl, 2016, extrapolates upon Dina Goldstein’s past themes of identity within Western culture. Inspired by Chinese tradition and the evolution of international commercialism, Dina re-imagines the adored and iconic   advertising posters of 1930s China. Live models replace the girls, still sexy but far more demure than their American counterparts, the ‘pin up girls’. This era saw the emergence of the Asian women as individuals, who began to break away from Confucius tradition that demanded total filial piety alongside crippling beauty practices like foot binding. However, while an expression of gender emancipation, the posters sowed the seeds of a new form of exploitation: the use of the female form to sell consumer products. The shift to this popular image of the modern woman signaled the commoditization of the everyday and de-radicalization of modernity. The accompanying imagined products relay satirical critique of our current societal realities. The Modern Girl exhibition opened November 2016 in Paris. Snapshots From The Garden Of Eden, 2017 is Goldstein’s most recent work and was commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum Of San Francisco for the exhibit Jewish Folktales Retold: Artist as Maggid. The series features 11 large-scale Black and White tableau images with representing characters and passages from Leaves From The Garden Of Eden.

Goldstein’s work has been the subject of academic essays and dissertations, and has been covered extensively in media around the globe. The projects are studied and taught in art schools, photography programs and gender courses. The Fallen Princesses are included in elementary school textbooks, as teaching tools and subjects of discourse within the classroom.

Dina recently showed the series Gods Of Suburbia in China and Italy. ‘Snapshots From The Garden of Eden’, 2017, originally commissioned by the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, has traveled to the Jewish Museum of Venice, Museo Embraico Venice, where it will be on exhibit September 2018 – November 2018.

Fall 2019 Goldstein will debut new work titled The 10 Commandments. The narrative seeks to examine the socio-political makeup of America through its political icons – the presidential figures that mark the most notable and controversial chapters in American history. Each tableau features a President portrayed through the prism of their politics, popularity and/or notoriety, further contextualized by a contemporary backdrop, and assigned one of the moral and ethical postulates of the Ten Commandments.

You can watch the behind the scenes of the photo shoots below.