On the surface, Rudy Shepherd’s work appears simple, some might even argue amateurish. However, spend a little more time with these pieces and the lines starts to deepen with a raw energized intention, especially when paired next to one another in a specific series such as this one titled “Psychic Death.”
What is a psychic death? It sounds devastating. I look this up on the Internet and discover it’s a term relative to fearing one’s own physical death, a collection of energy manifesting negatively as anxiety in the body. To experience psychic death is to endure a dualistic sense of panic and release– or to embrace a deep personal concept of power and loss. This is what Charlie Sheen, Osama Bin Laden, and Columbine have in common, and these painted images are not just about them, but us as a society. How do we as a nation move beyond headlines and examine our own psychic death? Rudy Shepherd doesn’t just want us to think about it, he wants us to think by feeling, and this is what great art does.
According to his website, Rudy Shepherd’s work “involves investigations into the lives of criminals and victims of crime. He explores the complexity of these stories and the grey areas between innocence and guilt in a series of paintings and drawings of both the criminals and the victims, making no visual distinctions between the two. By presenting the people first and the stories second a space is created for humanity to be reinstilled into the lives of people who have been reduced to mere headlines by the popular press.”
Jon Hopkins released his fourth full length solo album earlier this year, Immunity on Domino Records. “The first sound on Immunity is that of a key turning, unlocking the door into Jon Hopkins’ East London studio. It’s followed by the noise of the door slamming, then footsteps, and then finally the crisp, clipping rhythms and pulsating bass of ‘We Disappear’ emerge, signposting the most club-friendly music Hopkins’ has made to date.”
I was able to catch Jon open up for Purity Ring the other night at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood and while it took the crowd a few songs to warm up to him, by the end of his set everyone was dancing along to his hypnotic beats. Jon recently remixed Purity Ring’s “Amenamy” and Megan from Purity Ring added vocals to his track, “Breathe This Air”, it would have been a great opportunity for them to perform together on stage, but that never materialized. They did however give out a very limited 12″ vinyl that had both tracks on it if you were one of the first 150 in the door.
Jon will be performing this coming Saturday, August 31st at MOMA PS1’s Warm Up in New York and will also be appearing later that night at the Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn. He’ll then head back to Europe for a string of festival shows. Check out the beautiful new version of, “Breathe This Air”, featuring Megan of Purity Ring and be sure to catch him at one of his upcoming shows.
Most of Ana Teresa Barboza’s embroidery work centers around the body. There are usually sharp contrasts of color imagery embedded in her work, and sometimes, she will use graphite to draw on her fabric before beginning to stitch. These mixed media pieces address the fragmentation of the body, as well as the ability to mold and sculpt our bodies, and how we use them to cultivate identities. Barboza’s work also makes us deeply aware of the internality/externality of our bodies and the primality with which they exist in relation to others.
In addition to these basic concepts, her work is often humorous. Something about embroidery in general renders its subjects playful, as it never seems to take itself too seriously. It therefore becomes the perfect medium for Barboza’s subject matter. A scene that would normally be perceived as grotesque – such as a woman pulling our her entrails – becomes absurd and funny. Perhaps it has something to do with the delicacy and softness of the form and medium. Regardless, Barboza’s work leaves me with a smile.
Javier Pérez’s video, En Puntos, features a ballerina who puts on a pair of pointe shoes that are extended by a pair of sharp kitchen knives. Once she has the shoes on, she begins to balance herself on top of a grand piano, the tips of the knives scratching, scraping, and cutting the surface of the piano. At times, she finds herself on the edge of the piano, and she yelps as she struggles to keep her balance and maintain her strength. At the end of the video, the curtains close on her “performance” in an empty theater. Meant to resonate with the idea of a music box, Pérez’s video captures the fragility and discipline embodied in ballet, while also demonstrating the vulnerability and despair brought to stage performance in general. Also apparent is a delicate violence that makes you wince as the ballerina traverses the piano’s surface.
“Through this work, Javier Perez investigates and reflects once again upon the human condition. Using a strongly metaphorical language rich in powerful symbolism, he reveals the weaknesses that become the boundaries between seemingly irreconcilable concepts such as: beauty and cruelty, fragility and violence, culture and nature or life and death.” (via)
Mary O’Malley’sBottom Feeders is a series of oceanic ceramics that look as if they were discovered among sea wreckage. These “porcelain crustaceans” appear delicate and dangerous, as the aquatic life that crawls among the porcelain seems as if could consume and become the dish itself. Inspired by her home by the sea, O’Malley created this series with porcelain, red Iron oxide, 22 karat gold luster, and a cone 6 glaze that shes makes herself using a recipe called Alfred White. She enjoys creating work that juxtaposes seemingly disparate imagery or ideas, such as the series of urns she created that she intended to be humorous. Of this series, she says,
“What interested me with this series, is by applying the creatures to plates and bowls I was reminded of naturally occurring circumstances where nature takes over man made scenarios. Humans are constantly vying for power against the natural world but we can never quite seem to win. Once I started to create these pieces I then started to notice the same pattern going on in the world around me: moss growing on a concrete wall, barnacles growing on the side of a dock, tufts of grass poking up through cracks in the sidewalk, etc. Maybe I am interested in this series because it is a truer representation of the world we exist in.” (via)
Be sure to check out O’Malley’s Etsy shop, where you can purchase some of her work. She currently lives in New York.
The first day had me arriving late (oops) to catch the last half of Toro y Moi‘s highly danceable set. Devendra Banhart kept it positive and mellow performing to a an adoring audience while Deerhunter‘s Bradford Cox kept it weird as usual performing in a dress and wig. TV On The Radio rolled through the hits and had me screaming along to, “Staring at the Sun“. When Yeah Yeah Yeahs took the stage to end the first day, you knew right away why they were headlining. Karen O is hands down one of the most enigmatic singers performing today and with Nick Zinner’s burning guitar work, they had the crowd going insane when they played songs like, “Maps” and “Heads Will Roll“.
The second day had me dancing like crazy to Australia’s Flume who I featured here earlier this year. Fingers crossed he eventually tours with some of the amazing singers featured on his debut LP. With great songs and some seriously long hair, Kurt Vile & The Violators played a nice early evening set as did Glasser who I had to cut short to catch Yo La Tango. Beach House‘s Victoria Legrand mesmerized the huge crowd with her incredible voice, definitely one of the more beautiful sets of the day.
Designer Armin Blasbichler‘s work is often jarring. His series ORSON, I’m Home strikes a special chord, though. The series is composed of three “dining sculptures” created primarily from the bodies of various farm animals. While we may be more accustomed to farm animals adorning plates on the furniture, seeing them as taxidermy furniture makes for a surreal juxtaposition. The furniture confronts its users with the consumption it usually facilitates. Interestingly, for the series Blasbichler features a quote from professor and writer Don Slater: “In talking of modern society as a consumer culture, people are not referring simply to a particular pattern of needs and objects […] but to a culture of consumption.”
Compressed is a series of video work from artist Kim Pimmel. The videos all utilize macro lenses, time lapse photography, and magnetism. However, for Compressed 02 we find Pimmel’s mix as liquid. The video is filled with a simple landscape of soap bubbles and punctuated with red dye. A strange black liquid seems to navigate the network bubbles of its own accord, like black blood travelling through invisible capillaries. This black liquid is an exotic ferrofluid – a magnetic liquid. The ferrofluid travels the most efficient paths through the field of bubbles toward its invisible magnetic attraction.