We Are The Youth is a photo-documentary and essay project that compiles the stories of LGBTQ youth from around North America. It’s a simple project that packs an honest punch. Each story is personal and demonstrates the completely different experiences of the participants. They speak about the need for role models or their role in becoming one, about their own struggles with their identity, where they situate themselves on the gender/sexuality scale, and how that can change from day to day. The project is a collaborative effort between Laurel Golio who takes the photographs, Diana Scholl who writes the biographic essays, and of course, the LGBTQ youth. (Via Lenscratch)
Raffaello Ossola vibrant dramatism and invented landscapes create an exciting space for the viewer to explore and ponder. Each one offers an opportunity to imagine yourself in his universe, wandering through mazes or floating around trees. Although Ossola takes liberties with his compositions, ultimately they retain the verticality/gravity that we are familiar with. Where he leaves the laws of our world more readily are in his pools. They seem to be reflecting a cloud, moon, or other objects in the sky, but the eye reads it more as if the elements mentioned are situated in an environment within the water. The surface of the water appears more like a penetrable glass casing than a body unto itself. It’s mesmerizing to see.
Though most of his paintings don’t contain living creatures, occasionally Ossola will include a part of or even a whole figure, bug, or animal. His ability to render invented landscapes is more convincing than these living subjects, but it’s an interesting attempt. Sometimes the living creatures break the illusion of the scene, and they tend not to engage with the environment in a very natural way. On the other hand, these environments are very barren to begin with, and it may be for this reason that living creatures appear foreign or perturbing in some way. I enjoy the idea of seeing a person trying to scramble up the side of a tilting pool or interacting with the glassy water. I know also, though, that it might set stricter boundaries for my own imagination and experience of the paintings.
Visit his website to see his more recent maze paintings. (Via Melt)
Robin Schwartz’s photo-series Amelia and the Animals documents her daughter alongside animals as Amelia has grown in the past 12 years of her life. Schwartz’s photographic practice is predominantly of animals, but her daughter is the main focus of these photographs. In each one, Schwartz finds creative ways to have Amelia and the animals interact. You can see the ease with which Amelia interacts with the animals, having been surrounded by them her whole life. It’s incredible to see her nonchalance as well. Both mother and daughter feel a deep connection with the animals. In an interview with Science of Us, Schwartz says the first time she saw a chimpanzee she was in love. “We’re intensely drawn to primates because – well, because they are us, maybe.”
In the interview, she was also asked about the dangers of photographing her daughter with wild animals.
This is a question that gets asked so often. Most people ask Amelia, “Weren’t you scared?” You just have to be smart about it. We are as careful as possible. It’s a team effort, with Amelia taking directions from the caretaker. Amelia takes instructions well, and at this point, she does have experience.
The animals that hurt us the most are the mosquitos! We were eaten in Florida.
(Via NY Mag)
Wasma Mansour decided to document single Saudi Arabian women (living in the UK and Saudi Arabia) for her PhD thesis. She knew this was a subject that interested her due to its lack of coverage. She found there was a lack of investigation of women on their own, far too often women were measured with male counterparts; spouses, partners.
At first Mansour reached out using facebook and email, phishing randomly. She found this didn’t yield enough results. She found that making a more personal connection with the women, unsurprisingly, had them trust her more readily. Both the fact that the work was being done for educational purposes, and that Mansour herself was single, had the women open up to Mansour more enthusiastically. According to Mansour, they identified with her approach and saw that she could truly understand their lifestyle. Her subjects were in school themselves in Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Interestingly, Mansour had her large-scale film developed in the UK. This was in part because there were not many labs that were able to process her film in Saudi Arabia, but also because she found negotiating autonomously on a daily basis was very challenging. This being exactly the type of theme Mansour sought to confront in her work. (Via Emaho Magazine)
Images of John Malkovich dressed as Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol have been circulating the Internet the past few days. Although we’ve all been marveling at the actor’s ability to recreate these iconic images, I decided to dig a little deeper.
The Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich series (to be exhibited at Catherine Edelman Gallery November 7th) is as impressive as it is enjoyable; not only does Malkovich do a spectacular job of impersonating the (almost) inimitable celebrities, Sandro Miller should also be given credit for imitating each distinct style of photography. Anneliese Cooper points out in her article for Art Info that Malkovich possesses some amorphous quality with the ability to personify almost anyone, even though his facial features are rather unmistakable. She identifies – as the Millers series implies in name as well – that the film Being John Malkovich (written by Charlie Kauffman) somehow predicted or identified this inherent chameleon character of Malkovich.
What you probably have not seen, are Millers original portraits of Malkovich. They demonstrate the actor’s unbelievable ability to transform, and also Miller’s skillful curation of props and scenes to offer Malkovich the opportunity to express such a broad range of emotion. Malkovich’s emotional vocabulary spans disparity, rage, nonchalance, and a slew of other expressions that honestly, cannot be summed in a single word.
Check out Sandro Miller’s website, here.
Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll set up a paint sculpture that tracks the moods of people in Oslo (where they go to school) through their posts to social media. Each time someone tweets that they are happy, sad, angry, or what have you, a program that Lauritzsen Murvoll created assigns a colour to it. As demonstrated in the video, happy is a pink colour, angriness is black, and a number of other colours are left undefined. Though the project is small in scale, it serves an interesting purpose and leaves a lot of opportunity for further exploration. One imagines what it would look like if there were multiple posts representing different cities. It’s a great way to visualize the information.
Artist Holton Rower, who uses the paint pouring technique to create three-dimensional paintings, inspired the format for Lauritzsen and Murvoll’s project. The men had to go through a few different modes of representation for aesthetic value. They tried having each individual mood tweet release a colour, but also averaged a mood over a period of tweets. According to the artists, latter was more aesthetically appealing because the information was more simple, but the former was evidently a more accurate depiction of how the city was feeling. (Via I Heart My Art and Wired)
Tomoo Gokita’s abstracted erotic paintings have a very nostalgic feel. As a child, Gokita snuck to read his father’s playboys, which he says are still a big influence on him now. His father created the images for advertisements in Playboy for its launch in Japan in 1975. Gokita now keeps the entire collection in his studio, and this influence shows heavily in his work. The curves and teasing stances of his characters are obvious references to such imagery. The forms and colouring make for a very retro feel, but the strange dot-eyes or the patterned zigzag head of the tuxedoed man have more of an Internet age vibe.
Gokita never reveals faces, except for the subtle suggestions in the dots. Often he flattens them completely or creates intestinal-looking deformities oozing from their head. Gokita says that he doesn’t depict faces because he became tired of them, and now he is instead interested in masks: “to hide a face and to become a different character.” This too seems to relate to his fascination with the women in Playboy. Although the images are extremely revealing, they’re also highly composed, and act almost like a mask of sexuality. Both the paintings and the images they are inspired from are a fantasy or a caricature of a woman’s true and much more deeply complex sexuality. Gokita’s paintings reduce them to be even more elemental, and also reveal their oddity. This is done very acutely due to his respect and love for the imagery. It’s a fascinating way to examine the inner workings of commercial erotic images. (Via Hunted Projects)
Dan Colen has been dubbed in the past one of Warhol’s Children, a famous or notorious – depending on which critic you’re asking – New York post-pop prince. His earlier work was made of gum and simulation bird droppings, and although his artwork received heavy criticism for imitating or ridiculing artists and the high-art community, he continued to be successful and his career flourished. It seems there’s always a place for the unaffected artist-rock-star character type.
Recently, Colen has taken a more subdued approach to his practice. In light of the death of his good friend and artist contemporary Dash Snow, who died of an overdose in 2009, Colen has tried to curb his own lifestyle choices. This slow down is reflected in his artwork, namely his current exhibition at Gagosian: Miracle Paintings. Perhaps in the context of another artist, paintings of star streams and neon explosions would be a bold subject, but in comparison to his whoopee cushion installation Blowin in the wind, the medium is much more conventional and less provoking.
The feeling in the paintings is of excitement and solemnity. They’re easier to digest but still pack a visual punch. There’s life, death, and tranquility. It’s probably a pivotal moment in Colen’s career. Will he be able to remain successful without the contrarian stunts he is known for? It should also be considered that these paintings are much more pleasant to consume: Is he riding the comfort of his position in the New York art community, or pushing new personal boundaries? Personally I enjoy this series, but could also see how some of his fans might be disappointed in the relatively understated nature of the works.
Miracle Paintings is on at Gagosian until October 18th.