In Artist Rose Salane’s Photographs, Discarded Wedding Confetti Is Given New Life

The artist collected confetti thrown outside of New York's Marriage Bureau at City Hall for the series.

Rose Salane, July 17, 2023) (2024). Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa, London, and Tank Shanghai.

Based in New York City, artist Rose Salane (b. 1992) traces cultural and social value systems in her practice, mining themes such as loss, trauma, interpersonal relationships, and processes of exchange. Framing her work through the lens of city life and lived realities, Salane’s work has a distinctive conceptual aspect, wherein the objects and vignettes she focuses on can be considered both as they are in a literal sense, as well as symbols and motifs for greater, overarching ideas. Working across a range of mediums, including sculpture, collage, and photography, Salane’s practice frequently involves substantial amounts of research, searching through archives and collections—both personal and bureaucratic—to further create a sense of depth and understanding of urban environments from various perspectives.

Portrait of the artist Rose Salane sitting with a navy striped v-neck tee shirt and her brown hair down.

Artist Rose Salane. Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa.

To date, Salane’s work has been included in a number of high-profile exhibitions, including a solo show at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in 2019, the New Museum Triennial in 2021, and the Whitney Biennial in 2022. Earlier this year, Salane was the subject of her first solo show in China, “Eight Vows,” at Tank Shanghai.

The exhibition featured a series of eight photographs made between 2023 and 2024 from small piles of various types of confetti. Salane collected the scraps of confetti from outside the Marriage Bureau at New York City Hall. Many couples exiting the building following a ceremony are met outside by loved ones who shower them with the multicolored shredded paper. At the end of the day, Salane would collect the discarded bits that had accumulated. Each work is titled after the date it was collected, and some included confetti from different ceremonies.

A photo by rose salane of a pile of multicolor paper confetti on a grey ground and diffuse black background.

Rose Salane, July 20, 2023 (2024). Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa, London, and Tank Shanghai.

By using City Hall as the starting point for the project, and taking into consideration its location between other major government buildings including the New York Supreme Court, the artist draws attention to the stark correlation between governmental bodies and personal relationships. The confetti itself, used as ephemeral media that is meant to be discarded, yet remains captured for eternity in this series, engages with questions around cultural rituals as well as considerations—or promises—about the future. From a formal perspective, removing the confetti from the site of its collection and photographing it in a studio type setting invites reflection on how how context informs perception.

A photo by rose salane of a pile of multicolor paper confetti and paper strings on a grey ground and diffuse black background.

Rose Salane, January 3, 2024 (2024). Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa, London, and Tank Shanghai.

As a lifelong New Yorker, the series speaks to the artist’s deep and growing understanding of the realities and traditions that make up urban life, and her ability to poetically incorporate the objects, places, and events that hold deeper meaning—both universally and to fellow city dwellers—into her work. Considered within the scope of her oeuvre to date, it highlights a profound refinement in her visual lexicon, and promises future evolutions in her singular practice.


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