With her simple collage style, artist Sania Ahmed pairs textiles, fashion editorials, and snapshots to create complicated commentaries on culture in her series ‘Shezantino.’ Present in each image is a constant juice box, held up to the pouting lips and cold gazes of models and celebrities.
The juxtaposition of the extremely tasteful background editorial with the ridiculous juice box and gaudy thumbnails redefines what beauty is and asks what it should be.
Shezan mango juice, for Ahmed, was a childhood staple. It is the best representation of her consciousness split between Pakistan and America. In two parts, it contains all the same joy as juice boxes in the West but it is also that distinct tropical flavor of the Motherland.
In this series it clashes hard and strongly with the chosen fashion editorials, trivializing their seriousness and somber colorings.
This is what Ahmed had to say about her series:
Shezantino was conceived when a New Yorker mind and a Pakistani dil converged and sought to make sense of the images, the words, the sights and the sounds of two distinct worlds. It showcases the beautiful debris of this clash of civilizations andfeatures high-end editorials from Raf Simons, Balenciaga, Alexander Wang, Maison Margiela and pop culture icons Kanye West and Rihanna conceived inconceivably with 1970s Punjabi film Maula Jatt, Brooklyn’s little Pakistan’s Halal Meat and Grocery, Lahore street scenes, vibrant Pakistani truck art, the homeland’s beautifully oversaturated culture and most importantly, Shezan Mango Juice. Each piece tells a story, an unimagined conversation between these two worlds and how this New Yorker mind and Pakistani dilattempts to translate two decades of duplicitous identities.
This series feels as ad hoc as it does thoughtful. There is no single identity, understanding, or message in this art. It forces confrontation with culture at every turn.