While living in Germany for the past seven years, photographer Samaneh Khosravi noticed that there were many misconceptions within the Western understanding of Iranian culture. In a project titled “Among Women,” Khosravi seeks to shed new light on a lesser-known facet of modern Iran: its diverse women’s fashion and beauty scene. In the photos, Khosravi accompanies the women as they shop, socialize, and even visit with their plastic surgeons. The images were compiled into a book titled Among Women, which Khosravi describes below:
“This photo book documents the beauty ideals of today’s Iranian society, which are hardly known outside of Iran. It focuses on the young, confident Iranian women, who define their ideal of beauty with the interplay between modernity and tradition. More often, the simple beauticians are not enough for the young Iranians, and therefore the plastic surgeons need to lend a hand sometimes.” (Source)
In a world wherein the media is so often dominated by Western standards and perceptions, Khosravi’s project is important in providing us with an authentic glance into her culture—one that hasn’t been filtered through a Western lens. We see familiar images—the nail salons, the shopping arcade, the self-conscious glance in the mirror—but Khosravi’s candid style reveals a cultural distinctness in Iran’s approach to beauty, one that has its own nuances, such as the combination of traditional head scarves with modern makeup styles. “Iran is different,” she writes. “Iran is not only different from Germany, but also from the image presented by mainstream media” (Source).
It is Khosravi’s dream to disseminate this detailed perspective of Iran to the world. She is currently seeking support to publish her book with Kerber Verlag, which means it would reach a greater number of people. If you’re curious about Iran and you wish to support an image of the country that doesn’t fall under the umbrella of Western unilateralism, be sure to visit her crowdfunding page and help her reach her goal. The book is aimed for publication in October 2015. Visit Khosravi’s website, Facebook page, and Instagram to follow her progress and learn more.
The work of Nicola Samori depicts dying corpses and mysterious portraits scraped, scratched and torn on the surface, unveiling layers of contrasting paint. Dark and intense paintings, covering layers of existing work, like flesh covering the accumulation of past experiences and traumas. The artist chooses to damage his previous paintings on purpose. He feeds the canvas, daily; until the texture becomes ’intense and palpable’. Using his fingers or a knife to destroy the apparent layer, the result of what feels like a painful process is a magnificent harmonized agony. By scraping his paintings, Nicola Samori tries to search for true identity. A person’s face on a painting is not a valid representation of who this person really is. It doesn’t give a true essence of its inner personality and soul. Exploring what’s underneath the surface is the purpose of the artist.
Body, death and painting are, for Nicola Samori, subjects of obsession. By punishing the three altogether on the canvas, he opens the wound and sets himself free. His layered macabre creations are the structure for his catharsis (act or process of releasing a strong emotion into an art form or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration). Apart from the fact that the artist doesn’t fancy working with colors, according to him; the source of darkness does not reflect a state or a belonging; what is made from it is what’s interesting. A rough process symbolizing metamorphosis of deep emotions into meaningful and empowering art pieces
Anna Maria Bellman intricately translates cartography into her own unique style by simplifying their elements into positive and negative space. She cuts precise slices into paper, constructing sections of maps of cities all over the world. Each hand cut incision represent paths on a map, building up the framework for a city. The artist’s work is heavily influenced from her extensive travels. Originally hailing from Germany, she has adventured to an impressive amount of cities including London, Berlin, New York, Paris, and Rome, just to name a few. All of these incredibly complex and diverse cities are represented in her work as a black and white composition of crisscrossing lines, intersecting and forming the streets and rivers.
Many of her cutout maps do not even appear as such, but rather an abstract grid of geometric lines, forming different shapes and patterns like tapestries. When the light shines through Anna Bellman’s maps, you can see their shadows creating a three-dimensional affect. Having explored more wilderness destinations as well, Bellman’s other works are highly floral and inspired from lush nature. Her nature-filled works include amazing patterns cut by hand, as intricate and delicate as those found naturally in the wild. Although Anna Bellman’s body of work can represent two ends of the spectrum, nature and city, the continuous monochromatic choice of using white paper unifies her brilliant work.
Segawa 37 pays tribute to Japanese art by creating Gifs from the original work of traditional Japanese woodblock prints, “pictures of the floating world’. Most of the time, he only animates a few parts, adding a realistic and modern add-on to the art piece. In other images, he blends in futuristic elements, denaturalizing the first intention of the historical painting. Originally, Japanese woodblock paintings, also called Ukiyo-e, were depictions of everyday scenes in Japan. Affordable, they represented the possibility for the mass to access art. Segawa 37 gives a new life to these prints by altering their core. From hyper realistic to surreal, the artist offers to the modern world a new way of looking at a classic form of art.
The most emblematic representation of Japan, a contemplation of movements; calm and serene, but always intense remains within those wooden prints. The artist’s reinterpretation of Katsushika Hokusai’s images is disturbing the stillness and tranquility of the scenes. The Shinkansen, a Japanese high-speed train is passing by travelers resting at a station, a person is driving a segway in the middle of a road field, a couple of people, watching mount Fuji are also seeing a extraterrestrial flying saucers passing by. What is meant to be admired in almost a meditative state is now entertaining.
Ashley Oubré is a self-taught artist from Washington, DC, who paints large-scale images that could easily be mistaken for photographs. Using graphite powder, India ink, and carbon pencil, she masterfully creates dramatic contrasts and realistic textures. The human subject is explored widely throughout her work, often portrayed in soul-searching states of vulnerability and contemplation. She also has a fascinating jellyfish series, in which she perfectly captures the invertebrates’ translucent bodies and trailing, ghost-like movements. Each of her works is marked by an accuracy that subtly transcends the boundaries of reality, drawing the viewer’s attention to the beauty of form by accentuating the details.
In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, Oubré described herself as an “artist who paints (my view of) the human condition.” A tangible presence surrounds her portraits. Drawn to subjects who have endured social hardships, Oubré’s grayscale style sensitively portrays the physical nuances of pain and rejection. Despite their defeated poses, the figures resonate with an honest and unwavering strength. By evoking powerful emotions in the viewer, Oubré’s work enacts a form of healing and empowerment through representation.
Have you ever been staring at the screen on your phone so long that you feel like a zombie? Well, Steve Cutts illustrates this bizarre technology, zombie-like phenomena as a terrible reality. His vividly colored illustrations and animations cleverly and satirically portray contemporary society as a series of greedy monsters, zombies, and hollow-eyed humans with no trace of humanity. Each scene exposes the sad truth of what is wrong with the world today, with money hungry men and dismal humans being completely controlled by a piece of technology. He uses a graphic novel-like style, full of bold colors, with an intensity that will stay engrained in your mind for years to come. The London-based artist illustrates and animates depictions of familiar characters like Roger and Jessica Rabbit in a somewhat humorous, but undoubtedly dark way.
The abysmal world that is portrayed is one of shallow intentions and hopeless monotony. Steve Cutts’ work leaves us questioning our own society and our role in it. He points a stern finger back at the viewer in his vibrant, unforgettable work. Displaying the ‘rat race’ we all find ourselves in as one with actual rats, it shocks us into contemplation. These rats are not only stuffed into small places, but also caught and killed brutally in a trap. Steve Cutts’ work is insightful, intriguing, and incredibly well done, however, this is not a world that is appealing to the masses. Make sure to check out his full animations on his website. (via Bored Panda)
In September, people visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) will be able to view North America’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian and Peruvian mummies. Titled Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs, the touring exhibition from The Field Museum in Chicago features over 20 preserved remains ranging as far back as Pre-Dynastic Egypt and Pre-Incan Peru—which means these are some of the oldest discovered mummies in the world. Accompanying the mummies are archaeological artifacts also found in the tombs, such as sarcophagi fragments, limestone canopic jars containing the deceased’s vital organs, and a beautifully fierce double-spouted jar with the face of a jaguar.
In the following statement from the press release, NHM President and Director Jane Pisano explains the exhibition’s goal: “The role of a natural history museum is to serve as a laboratory for the exploration of our natural and cultural pasts, and science is our pathway. Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs uses modern science to challenge and help to unravel what we know about these ancient peoples and their cultures, and in doing so, offers the world an intensely up-close look at The Field’s preeminent collection of mummies, many of them tucked safely away in vaults for over a century.”
As Pisano remarks, what makes this exhibition exciting (aside from its awe-inspiring collection) is its unique examination of cross-cultural methods of mummification, as well as the specific focus on the individuals occupying the coffins. Mummification is often solely associated with Ancient Egyptian ritual practice, but in fact mummies have been found all over the world. In Peru, mummification began 2,000 years before Egypt. While both cultures’ methods are equally fascinating and ingenious, differences can be traced. In Peruvian mummification, for example, there are signs that the coffins were opened so that food and drink could be replenished; in Egypt, the tombs were meant to be sealed for eternity. In addition, the exhibition also profiles the deceased using information gathered from CT scans and X-rays. Among the mummies is a woman and her child, a brother and sister, and the “Gilded Lady,” a 40-year-old woman from the Roman era.
This is the first time the mummies and their artifacts have left The Field Museum, so be sure to take the opportunity to see this fascinating collection. The show runs from September 18th to January 18th. You can learn more on the NHM’s website.
Artist Soo Kim severs, cuts, and reconstructs photographs until they become a more ethereal, delicate version of what they once were. Kim’s work portrays buildings fading away, and creates new geometric forms from different objects. Her cityscapes turn into beautiful framework of a concrete jungle after she slices them into their new form. They become a new, unique style of architecture and design that is created from layers of hand altered and manipulated photographs. Her highly architectural work examines these manmade forms in the midst of their environments. She often snips away at the manmade structures, but leaves the lush landscape in the background alone.
Often using photographs of scenes from different cities all over the world, these once extremely diverse places now are stripped down to their bones where they look somewhat similar. Soo Kim’s hand-cut structures unify these contrasting places, creating a balance of harmony. The incisions in her layered and cut two-dimensional work form a sense of volume, a three-dimensional element is added with her manipulation of foreground and background. Soo Kim’s art can often be more abstract, creating more vividly colored work with the same incredible cutting technique. Not always focused on architecture and manmade structures, the artist’s body of work also includes several ephemeral scenes of nature. With a light and airy palette, her tree branches droop, curve, and jut out of the composition in every direction, creating an amazing sense of depth. Make sure to check out more of her work on Angles Gallery’s website, where she is represented.