The Coca-Cola logo is one of the most recognizable icons in the world. The characteristic red and white are unmistakable, and the taste is always exactly the same. The brand permeates every continent, offering its sweet nectar to the farthest nomadic tribes of dusty deserts, the cosmopolitan diners in five Michelin star restaurants, the young, the old, the rich, the poor - Coke does not discriminate. It has more devotees than Buddha, is more welcomed into homes than Jesus. It is cheaper than both water and medicine, and oftentimes, more accessible. In some places, it is an integral part of a homeowner’s hospitality, offered as a beverage choice to visitors along with tea and coffee, while in others, it is used for ceremonies in lieu of holy water. The idolization of a commercial product is no surprise, however, in an era where capitalism is both culture and religion, within the bounds of which every individual person is expected to themselves function as a marketable entity.
Soda Shrines explores the idea of what it is that we find sacred now, positioning a series of four highly recognizable, and highly profitable, brands of soda at the center of their own uniquely-tailored devotional shrines. The shrines feature mixed references to major world cultures and religions, including Chinese hongbao, Christian church votives, the traditional Buddhist offering of oranges, the prayer notes of Jerusalem’s Western Wall, and, of course, currency, from all over the world. The bold colors of the cans - red, orange, blue, and green - dictate the coordinating contents of each shrine. I have purposefully conflated religious iconography with commercial styling, mixing a documentary inquiry with a highly artificial photoshoot. Brand worship is, in the end, a superficial pursuit; the deep loyalty we feel towards our favorite brands is often cultivated in childhood and borne of pure nostalgia, buried deep in our brains by those missionaries of consumerism: advertising companies. It is my intention that each image in Soda Shrines could be mistaken for an advertisement. You behold the golden pedestal, the can glimmering with condensation, offerings of devotion already laid at its feet, and suddenly…you are thirsty. A Coke would actually be great right now.