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.
When I think of Julian Schnabel I think of many things but inspiring artist mentor is not what comes to mind. However after watching this half hour documentary I just may have changed my mind. Created by HBO and non-profit YoungArts, this video documents a day of intimate mentorship with the notorious painter and filmmaker where he discusses his working process, various bodies of work, and how his flims and paintings inform one another. One of the most memorable parts of the documentary comes towards the end when Schnabel tells the teenage artists “If you’re scared, You’re fucked.” This piece of advice may seem a bit harsh but I have to admit that I’ve warmed up to Schnabel after seeing how generous he is with his advice and time without sugarcoating the harsh realities of being an artist. The students walked away from the experience excited about creating and experimenting and I think I may have as well. Watch the full documentary posted above and remember whatever you do… don’t be scared!
We’re happy to present the second installment of Hennessy’s mini documentary featuring Elliott Wilson, Founder of Rap Radar and Editor-in-Chief of Respect. Follow Elliott through Brooklyn as he discusses how he became a prominent voice in hip-hop music and how he discovered his creative voice. Wilson advises that the only way for a young writer to find his voice is to keep writing; eventually you’re going to reach real opinions on a topic that’s important to you. Take a trip down the rabbit hole. Watch more Hennessy videos and learn more about this movement at neverstopneversettle.com.
As part of our ongoing partnership with Feature Shoot, Beautiful/Decay is sharing Alison Zavos’ article on Matthew Albanese.
“DIY Paradise” was constructed from cotton, salt, cooked sugar, tin foil, feathers & canvas.
My work involves the construction of small-scale meticulously detailed models using various materials and objects to create emotive landscapes. Every aspect from the construction to the lighting of the final model is painstakingly pre-planned using methods which force the viewers perspective when photographed from a specific angle. Using a mixture of photographic techniques such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting I am able to drastically alter the appearance of my materials.—Matthew Albanese
Matthew Albanese is a fine art photographer from New Jersey who specializes in creating and photographing miniatures from common household objects and materials. “New Life I” (pictured above) was constructed using painted parchment paper, thread, hand dyed ostrich feathers, carved chocolate, wire, raffia, masking tape, coffee, synthetic potting moss and cotton.
The Good folks at Hennessy bring you a three part mini documentary featuring Elliott Wilson, Founder of Rap Radar and Editor-in-Chief of Respect. In this first video Wilson heads to the barbershop where, he explains, the voice of the street is heard. The man with endless talking points reminds us that, “your opinion is nothing unless you can back it up.” Join Wilson and Hennessy on a trip down the rabbit hole and watch more Hennessy videos with some of the worlds leading pop culture creatives at neverstopneversettle.com.
Within the setting of his captured vistas Vasilis Avramidis typically paints an arrangement of symbolic motifs, rendered in a way to be suggestive of neglect. These depicted scenes and objects are overgrown with moss and ivy, alluding to an overriding sense of decay that the paintings’ inhabitants desire to control and maintain. These characters are gardeners, keepers of sites, land and buildings. They are the caretakers.
The paintings express a repetition of varying hues of green, a reference to the duality between sickness and growth and how the land eventually reclaims everything that sits upon it. Objects being imbued with foliage confirm these concepts of the ongoing and endless conflict between the forces of destruction and the forces of philosophical cultivation. This force of nature against man-made structures and ideologies not only conveys a relentless struggle but also comments on the history of art and architecture being overwritten and unearthed with the passing of time.