As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Alison Zavos’ article on Photographer Hal.
When looking for couples to model for both this series, Couple Jam, and his ever popular work, Flesh Love, Tokyo-based Photographer Hal goes to underground bars in Shibuya and Kabukicho (Tokyo’s Red Light District), places he describes as “luscious nighttime bee hives”. Musicians, dancers, strippers, service workers and businessmen are all fair game as models as long as they are willing and able to contort their bodies to fit in the confined spaces Photographer Hal obviously has an affinity for.
These photographic “events” take place in the models bathrooms. Photographer Hal explains, “I think of the bathroom as being one of the most private and intimate place in anyone’s home, this provoked a shyness in the models, and created a unique excitement and inspiration in the scene.”
Christina Mrozik is a modern day Audobon following in the footsteps of other talented contemporary painters such as Tiffany Bozic. but what separates Mrozik from the rest is the quiet darkness that looms around each and every one of her delicate paintings. Whether it’s vulture like birds with their beaks tied together or a partially skinned wolf guarding a cracked egg these paintings delve into the underbelly of the natural world with a surreal and macabre flare.
In a world desperate for uniqueness and originality, the greatest irony may be that we ultimately succumb to “following the herd”. Whether we like it or not, we the “sheeple” have become fervent disciples of a globalized economy. Sheep Nation, a series of photographic works by Montreal-based contemporary artist Davide Luciano, explores this fertile ground through a characteristically satirical yet compassionate lens.
This large-scale photographic series includes 23 intimate and introspective portraits of sheeple. Behind every mask lies a personal truth, an innocence, a sense of individualism, a longing to be seen and heard. The 6 mises en scène depict people unable to think for themselves. Allowing the influences of different forms of media to undermine their own identity and wander mindlessly in herds, like sheep.
With the help of a special effects make-up artist to create prosthetic masks, the 3 hour transformation began. The use of product branding in each scene puts forth the idea that we live in a world where we are slaves to consumerism and where advertising has us chasing a need to be accepted.
New York photographer Shannon Taggart gives us a first hand look into the haitian religion of Vodou being practiced in the basements of New York City. (via)
“Taggart’s project began when she met a Mambo, or female Vodou priest, named Rose Marie Pierre, who runs a temple in the basement of a nondescript storefront in the working class neighborhood of Flatbush. It was here that Taggart made these images of priests and laymen undergoing possession by the Loa—powerful spirits that act as intermediaries between humankind and Vodou’s distant god, Bondye. Most Loa are benign, some are malevolent, but every spirit has a distinct personality, role in the world and set of demands and services. In their different ways, practitioners believe, these spirits determine our fate and must be consulted and appeased.
Beckoning the Loa requires elaborate preparations unique to the particular spirit desired. Practitioners indicate the Loa they want to call upon by drawing its vever, or symbol, in cornmeal sprinkled on the floor. They place offerings on an altar and perform particular songs and dances. When the Loa possesses the worshiper Taggart says the scene becomes “wild, very physical and intense.” Though she works with black-and-white still images, Taggart is able to convey the noise and energy of these rituals. “There is screaming and thrashing…sometimes [congregants] run around the room as if confused. It can happen suddenly, so it’s often jarring. People immediately gather around the one possessed and assist them with what they need and catch them if they collapse.” Practitioners say the experience induces short-term amnesia; “Mambo Rose Marie is always surprised (sometimes shocked) to see my documentation of what has taken place while she was possessed,” recalls Taggart.” – Myles Little
Italian illustration duo Caktus & Maria bring a powerful and fluid flair to their juicy watercolor portraits. Each piece is frozen in time like a river of color that was stopped exactly at the precise time that a face emerged out of it. (via)
This seminal volume on the indigenous African Dinka group is a landmark documentation of a vanishing people in war-torn Sudan. World-renowned photographers Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith have devoted their lives to documenting the rapidly disappearing ceremonies and cultures of the indigenous people of Africa. In breathtakingly poignant images, they present a story that started with their first visit to the Dinka thirty years ago. Living in harmony with their cattle, the Dinka have survived years of war only to find their culture on the brink of vanishing forever. Where the White Nile River reaches Dinka country, it spills over 11,000 square miles of flood plain to form the Sudd, the largest swamp in the world. In the dry season, it provides abundant pasture for cattle, and this is where the Dinka set up their camps. The men dust their bodies and faces with gray ash—protection against flies and lethal malarial mosquitoes, but also considered a mark of beauty. Covered with this ash and up to 7’ 6″ tall, the Dinka were referred to as “gentle” or “ghostly” giants by the early explorers. The Dinka call themselves “jieng” and “mony-jang,” which means “men of men.”
Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith have spent a lifetime studying the peoples of the Horn of Africa, and have published their photography in a series of acclaimed books as well as major magazine features in Time, Life, Vogue, Marie Claire, and Elle. They exhibit and lecture widely at prestigious venues such as the American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian Institution, and the Royal Geographical Society in London.
The paintings of Whitney Van Nes are narrative portraits that recall the flatness and oddly elongated static figures of Byzantine art. Yet Van Nes’s unique aesthetic and iconography do not emulate any historical style — her approach is at once naïve and sophisticated. Van Nes paints from her imagination and her intimate personal knowledge of things, never drawing from found images, models or other visual references.
Her works are simultaneously autobiographical and universally relevant. While the images and narratives suggested in the work are drawn from the artist’s personal experiences, they serve merely as the impetus for the exploration of archetypal themes. One such issue prevalent in many of Van Nes’s paintings is the power struggle between authority and the subjugated. This adversity takes many forms, and Van Nes’s depictions of discontented figures leave the role of subjugator intentionally vague.
LA/Tokyo based designer Aaron W Björk’s new web project Bjorky is an experiment in saturated color, bizarre compositions, and beautifully awkward illustrations that go back and forth between abstraction and retro prints from unknown worlds. Can’t get enough of Aaron’s work? Get a copy of B/D Book Exquisite Corpse for more neon coated goodness.