German photographer Loretta Lux captures surreal portraits of children, portraying them in a way that makes them appear as if they’re porcelain dolls. Young boys and girls stare towards the camera and with expressions that you can’t get out of your head. As they look beyond or at you, their large eyes look as if they know deep, dark secrets. Pastel and faded colors contrast with the mysterious feel that these works evoke.
Lux studied painting at Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich and uses this influence in her images. Some pieces take up to a year to complete, and her process involves a combination of photography and digital manipulation. She’ll strip the background and then place her subjects into muted, minimal environments. The flatted backdrop and realistic foreground confuse your eye and help craft these strange images.
The nudes in Olivier Fermariello’s series “Je t’aime moi aussi” aren’t the familiar forms. Do they make you uncomfortable, these images of men and women outside the norm? Do you want to look away? Do the portraits feel exploitive?
People with disability in most cases feel the discrimination of not being considered entirely as a man or a woman: instead they feel treated either as children, either as beings belonging to a third gender, neutral with no libido. This project is about people, who are suffering from this kind of discrimination, but are not willing to give up their fight choosing a direct way to express themselves revealing their intimacy.
There is very specific platonic ideal of attractiveness that we all know, even if we choose not to accept it. Sure Dove has been campaigning for “real beauty” and Debenhams put size 16 mannequins in shop windows, but the vast majority of self-acceptance/social-acceptance images we see feature non-disabled people. The exclusion of images of people with disabilities removes them from the context of normalcy, both alienating and alien-making.
The series title translates to “I love you, too,” and this comes through in Fermariello’s photos. His pictures are not sensational —there is little effort to make the subjects of the photos look strange or other. There is also very little artifice, especially in the photos of the little person. She is captured, documentary-style, allowing us to see commonalities. This is an adult woman, sexual and sensual. All of the people photographed are making a clear statement in their fierce nakedness.
I wondered to what extent a disabled person was willing to go in leading a battle against the ultimate taboo in the field of disability. These images are the answer to my question.
Simon Gerbaud’s artwork is kind of like an MRI for household objects. He disintegrates an item and photographs the process for a stop motion animation that reveals the insides of computers, shoes, and toy dinosaurs, among others. With some, like the chair, he carefully saws away larger chunks and then reconstructs it. The second life of the chair is much more fragile. It’s like the chair has been teleported and its atoms were all mixed up in the reassembly. It’s mesmerizing the watch the objects disappear seemingly into nothing in the animations, and fascinating to witness the innards of a computer, however messy the process becomes.
Another of his animations, Misterio No. 8, also focuses on everyday objects. Gerbaud animates chairs and bicycles to seem as if they are being pushed by a shadow of a flower or a hand. The wind sounds create an eerie feeling that make the shadows feel more ghostlike, but the animation mostly feels playful, experimenting with the non-existent force of the shadow. Gerbaud studied at the Sorbonne. His aesthetic – apart from when a hair dryer is half dust from disintegration – is very cool and clean. Gerbaud now lives and works in Mexico. (Via Design Boom)
Feeling tired? How about a nice rest on some blobby furniture that looks and feels like real human flesh, such as “a chair meant to mimic a squishy roll of fat and footstools that resemble deformed testes”? UK artist Gigi Barker of studio 9191 has created a furniture collection called “A Body of Skin” that not only feels and looks like realistic skin, but also smells like a human body – Barker impregnated the silicon skin with the pheromones and after shave of models she used during the construction of the pieces. To design her work, she first studies the body, drawing abstracted shapes inspired by its form. Barker then sculpts a clay model before casting a life-size version in silicon. After the silicon is infused with human smell, Barker lays moulding leather on the form, completing the imitation. She tells Wired, “I have my own personal relationship with it which is based on my own personal history. Just as someone else will…I think this project is more about the people and the bodies rather than the skin itself. That being said as a project it’s interesting how reactionary it is given it’s essentially silicone and leather shapes, which shouldn’t inherently be. This speaks a lot therefore to the emotional associations attached to the work.”
Barker also notes that children have been especially taken with her work: “Without any of the hang ups we later develop, they are free to truly explore and interact with the work. Work regarding the human body is very personal and we all have a very immediate reaction to it so the reactions have reflected this.”
Barker’s fleshy furniture challenges our perceptions of the bodies of ourselves and others – her interactive sculptures are both discomfiting and comfortably familiar. (via wired and new york magazine)
Photographer Denise Prince challenges our perception of beauty and aesthetics by interchanging professional models with physical trauma survivors in her latest photography and video project Tractatus 7. Using a catalog by a high-end Italian fashion house Missoni, Prince replicates the superimposed glamour with a pinch of cruel, muted reality.
The provocative project, originally titled Replication and Breakdown of the Missoni Estate Line Catalog, is a juxtaposition between our approach towards reality and the events that take place beyond that fantasy. Prince raises a question of what happens to our designed reality when a traumatic event occurs? To her belief, people who have undergone severe traumas have an improved capacity to face the human condition.
“My sense is that when we see people with evidence of physical trauma we initially see them as people who were “not safe” and are reminded, ultimately, of our own mortality. I deeply believe that engaging with what we think we fear and yet gives all meaning to life (death – to the extent that this work is a reminder) brings with it a sense of greater peace.”
Prince uses her uncomfortable and grotesque way of storytelling to share the subject’s experiences (accidents, birth defects or assault) in an attempt to surpass standards of representation with the public, which is often deaf and blind to such events. Photographer is committed not to position her models as victims: “I work with people who have sufficiently recovered, established a new relationship to fantasy <…> At this stage <…> they are open to play, <…> to serve as an object of desire, to social risk taking.”
Tractatus 7 opens to public September 7 and will be running until September 27 at University Park in Austin, Texas. (via feature shoot)
Chinese artist Li Wei’s photographs defy gravity with himself often at the helm. They are the documentation of reality that involves sometimes-dangerous stunts that the artist says aren’t doctored by computers. Instead, he uses mirrors, wires, acrobatics, and more to give the illusion that people are flying and have transcended above cityscapes.
In a 2012 interview with The Creators Project, Wei says “we are all controlled by someone else. Our thoughts and actions are all controlled by an unseen force.” These images demonstrate an effort to break free of constraints and limitations, and teeter the line between fantasy and reality. Specifically, Wei is talking about the rapid change in China’s economy, but they hold a wider-reaching message. His photographs could be seen as a meditation on our consciousness, hopes, and desires of wanting complete freedom but having to live within the confines of society.
Lauren King uses vintage photos of landscapes and imagines how to continue the scene. Her drawing extensions – done in graphite – are truly convincing. She creates a space that feels more real than the photo, because it exists outside the borders of the image. A photo retains the image, literally captures it, but King brings the scene back to life and revives it on paper. The most interesting moments are when the image she creates moves subtly from reality, as when she extends the pattern of a bed cover, and the material becomes more like a plant. The photos she uses, mostly postcards, are highly nostalgic. She makes good selections, using atmospheres that are playful or whimsical like her technique. What makes the artwork so successful is her highly skilled rendering; if the images didn’t seem so accurate, they wouldn’t be as fun. What makes them interesting is that, although they seem to complete the image, they could be totally different than what the scene was originally. (Via I Need A Guide)
In Sergei Isupov’s hands figurative ceramics are both instantly recognizable and strangely surreal. Heads are tattooed, the art integrated into the facial features. The backs of the heads often add a separate contrasting element. Lift the head to find a third, hidden design on the base. The images create a narrative, but what does it mean?
“My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences. My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed. These details are all derived from actual observations but are gathered or collected over my lifetime. Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage.” Source
Contrast is inherent to the nature of ceramics. The sculpting that goes into creating the work is meticulous and controlled but once the piece is lowered into the kiln the firing is random and unrestrained. In Isupov’s work the form and content are also contradictory. The figures and heads are realistic, even somewhat minimal, yet the paintings on them are surreal, highly detailed, often adding a skewed dimensionality. There are demons and distortions, surplus limbs and conjoined bodies. Isupov’s works create a world that is visually stunning and conceptually disturbing.
“I am a student of the universe and a participant in the harmonic chaos of contrasts and opposites: dark — light; male — female; good — evil. Working instinctually and using my observations, I create a new, intimate universe that reveals the relationships, connections and contradictions as I perceive them. … When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.”