Icons by John Slaby
Archival Photographic Print (without mat)
15 x 12
In this work, I have assembled many of the icons of religion from all over the world, plus a few other items from different eras. From the left is seen a Chinese Buddha, a Menorah, Ganesh, Crucified Jesus, Santa Claus, Venus, a Thai Buddha, a Venus figurine and an illuminated Virgin Mary. The Venus figurine lies at the base of the Virgin to connect the two. In the foreground lies a Kennedy campaign button and a Star of David (credit to Gene Hester). The items are illuminated by the Menorah as well as the votive candles – lending an air of reverence in contrast to the Santa Claus and the tacky Virgin Mary.
The items have been arranged in a triangular composition with the crucifix at the apex. In addition to the candles, light is provided from a small blue light from the right hand side – creating the blue shadows and reflections on the left side.
Each of these items was, or still is, worshiped as the one and only. The Kennedy button adds to the mix suggesting that, for some, there are other icons to worship.
By assembling all these items in one space – with Santa Claus near the center – I hope to question the validity of such beliefs. A believer in one is, in all likelihood, an atheist in the others. Thus, in that sense, we are all atheists. Which icon is worshipped depends arbitrarily on the time and place of birth, rather than on any revealed truth.