Although the clothing and other aesthetic aspects can easily reveal the era the photos were taken, the scenes of Sage Sohier’s series “At Home With Themselves: Same-Sex Couples in 1980’s America” are strikingly honest and ever relevant. Sohier photographed female and male gay couples, sometimes with their family members and sometimes alone, in their homes. It is important to remember the context of these photographs, because of the time they were taken. As Sohier stated in an interview for Slate:
“My ambition was to make pictures that challenged and moved people and that were interesting both visually and psychologically…In the 1980s, many same-sex relationships were still discreet, or a bit hidden. It was a time when many gay men were dying of AIDS, which made a particularly poignant backdrop for the project.”
The general public very harshly rejected the gay community in America. There was a deep stigma attached to the community because of the rampant spread of aids. Sohier’s photographs provide portraits that demonstrate the humanity of the men and women who often felt ostracized or persecuted because of their sexual orientation. In media even today, there is limited representation of gay people. A list of stereotypes might include the overly flamboyant gay man, or the bull dyke. Sohier’s photographs are relevant today because they help to counteract an outsiders limited understanding of the dynamics of a gay household.
Borondo is an unconventional street artist, using a broad variety of materials to make his murals that are mostly portraits. Both his technique and choice of situ are excitingly unexpected. In a few of his works, he has used the smoke from candles to create the markings of the images. Though it would be safe to assume that this is a difficult technique to have control over, he is able to mold the forms into recognizable imagery.
Another strategy he employs is using reflections in water to be a part of his images, and sometimes even as the main event. In one, he creates the image of half a face on bails of hay – something he had done at an even larger scale beforehand – and planted grass in a pool of water to complete the second half of the face. It’s a nice contrast between the dried hay that looks as if it was burnt, and the living grass in the pool of water. Although in this one, the reflection completes the image, in the upside down mural portrait, the artwork is meant to be viewed right side up in the water, at least considered at an equal importance to the painted image. (Via I Need a Guide)
Tom Fruin made his solo debut at Mike Weiss Gallery with quilts made of drug baggies. 11 years later, his sculptures maintain reference to that mosaic, but have taken on a different form as colourful plexiglass architecture. The baggies for his earlier artworks were found on the street and sewn into a pastiche. It actually seems like quite a natural progression for Fruin to go from baggies to plexiglass that imitates stained glass. The baggies already had the feeling of stained glass windows, and the choice to use plexiglass instead of glass allows the work to maintain that plastic durability or roughness that regular glass would not.
Fruin’s most recent sculpture is installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The structure has lights installed on the inside, so that at night it is lit up. Whether lit from the sun during the day or at night by the artificial lighting, the colourful shadows cast by the installation are totally enjoyable. It’s interesting that stained glass and drug baggies should come together so coherently in Fruin’s work. From his rather turbulent beginning as a divisive artist, Fruin is cooling it down with this work. Still, as stained glass belongs to a religious symbolism, the invocation of the baggie configuration remains a mildly daring one.
Luka Fineisen creates installations that invade gallery spaces using (seemingly) natural elements like bubbles, sand, and ice. Her materials are varied. In the case of her most recent installation, the bubbles are not made of soap solution, but plastic. They imitate the real thing perfectly, creating an ethereal experience for the viewer. Although they’re as tempting to touch as real bubbles, unfortunately, you’d still be in an art gallery, so no such luck! The bubbles are tantalizingly playful and light. It’s a beautifully effortless piece.
Most of Fineisen’s artwork functions in the realm of mild fantasy relating to the natural world. Sometimes, as with her hay installation, the materials are real. The hay makes an amusing statement. In the photo, it seems to sit and stare out at you from inside some sort of freight elevator. In another, Fineisen creates a sandstorm around the perimeter of a building. In yet another, she has ice an iceberg (made presumably of plastic) encroaching on a staircase. Each explores our delicate relationship with the elements of our world, and she demonstrates how even the most seemingly harmless elements, like bubbles, might form a kind of subtle and humorous counter attack on our space, as we have overtaken the natural world.
Her most overtly political sculpture is of a girl standing beneath a stream of liquid gold pouring from a skylight. She extends her skirt to catch it, and it plops on her face with as much disregard as a stream can have. To me it reads like a rude awakening to the lack of sustenance the gold can actually provide. (Via The Fox is Black)
Ryoji Ikeda’s Test Pattern project, which was first shown in 2008, converts any data – from text to photo to sound to film – into barcode visualization and binary patterns of 0s and 1s. The visuals are set to a soundtrack, creating an overwhelmingly impactful experience with stunning black and white video. Throughout October, Ikeda’s project will be on display on five screens in Times Square from 11:57 to midnight each night until the 31st.
There have been many iterations of the Test Pattern project. This is the U.S. premier. Ikeda works primarily in Kyoto, Japan and Paris, France and is internationally renowned. His artwork is highly mathematical, and divided equally between sound and imagery. For all of the complex programming and equations that go into Ikeda’s work, the final product of Test Pattern is refreshingly simple in presentation, though monumental in scale.
In contrast to Test Pattern, Ikeda’s most recent work, Supersymmetry examines particle physics, a far loftier subject to tackle. Although it is beyond my own comprehension I’m going to have a go at it anyway. Apparently supersymmetry is an extension of The Standard Model, and helps to converge two types of elementary particle models, to explain how particles have mass. These two models have explained basic elements of our physical universe, but cannot explain everything, which is where supersymmetry helps to fill in the gaps. Ikeda’s installation is an experience that allows the viewer to witness his artistic vision of this phenomenon (I think…) (Via Papermag)
U.S. Marshals is American photographer Brian Finke’s fourth and most recent series. The artist documents the everyday activities of the law enforcement officers. The photos are particularly relevant in light of police violence in the U.S. The most recent case is in Ferguson, Missouri, where an unarmed teenager was shot by a police officer, the issue of race, of course, being a huge factor. The photographs provide a privileged glimpse of the conduct of these federal officers, something that should certainly be available for examination.
U.S. marshals function at a federal jurisdiction, transporting prisoners, judges, prosecutors, witnesses, and arresting “the country’s most dangerous fugitives”. According to Finke’s website, they have been involved in “missions ranging from tracking down train robbers in the Wild West, to protecting African American school children segregating the south in the Civil Rights Era, from enforcing all U.S. laws in Antartica, to seizing and auctioning off fraudster Bernie Madoff’s property.” A diverse resume to be sure.
The photographs are not surprising in what they portray – men and women in uniform and bulletproof gear – but there are moments of intrigue. I’m definitely interested to know what the story is behind the pink cuffs when all of the other gear in the photographs is so much more severe. I’m also curious to know what’s going on with the shirtless and shoeless man in nothing but a bathing suit being escorted away by a marshal.
Finke is releasing a book of his U.S. Marshal series November 20th and will coincide with a solo exhibition at ClampArt.
Jesse Kanda has earned his stripes as a digital artist, creating album artwork for the edgy pop artist FKA Twigs and working closely with producer Arca (who has produced for Kanye). His figures move in an oddly distorted way, sexual but also mildly disturbing. They’re coloured either in deep bruise-like hues, or glowing and shining whites and blacks. Although they are perturbing in their deformity and colouring, the figures are ethereal and set in tantalizing positions.
One image, made for Arca’s cover for Thievery, shows a woman with large hands running up her thighs chased by a deep black shadow. The lighting illuminates the rest of her body in blinding white so she appears like some kind of porcelain. For the same song, Kanda also created a music video of a woman with green, purple, and white skin slowly and sensually twerking. It’s kind of mesmerizing to watch.
Kanda interviewed for Fader magazine, and spoke about his process:
When you work with a computer, every frame has to be created and calculated, so it’s prone to mechanical results. I try my best to set up my working environment so that accidents can happen. A good [method] is working really quickly. Like making large brush strokes to start with and then adding/subtracting details later.
This is another advantage I have working with computer graphics: the control I have over lights. I have complete freedom over how many lights I have in a scene, where to put them, even whether to automate them. Sometimes they can have a life of their own, like the light itself is a character. (Via Fader)
Cuneyt Akeroglu’sRed Room series is a polished exploration of love and sex through the lens of fashion. Akeroglu enlisted top models like Lara Stone, Anja Rubik, Natasha Polly, and many more to enact scenes meant to convey the many facets of love through nude portraiture. The photographs are each stunning in their own right. Nude women (except for one male model) with ideal figures set in front of a striking red backdrops with sometimes extremely suggestive props, like Natasha Polly’s red rose spilling white liquid – read semen – down her leg, or Lily McMenamy entangled in a snake.
I’m particularly drawn to the photo of Anja Rubik where she squats on top of a mirror looking down at herself with curiosity/rapture, and holds her breast while covering the portion of the mirror that would (presumably) reflect her vagina. Akeroglu captures a moment of discovery for Rubik’s character in the photo, as well as demonstrates the complexities of being able to reach out and touch someone or oneself, and the confusion and excitement that comes from the attempt.
The only problem I have with the series is Akeroglu’s approach to the male portrait. I acknowledge right off the bat that the precedent for the subjects of nude portraiture in both fashion and art history is predominantly female, and so it’s entirely expected that his subjects would be a majority of women. What I find strange is that every woman is on full display with her entire body in the frame, where the male model, Arthur Grosse, is taken only from the shoulders up, not even baring a nipple. It’s barely a nude portrait, and only addresses the themes of sex and love using tiny beads of sweat that could indicate physical activity of a sexual nature. Although I enjoy the subtle tones of the photo in contrast to the overt sexuality of some of the female portraits, I question the decision to include a male portrait where the subject is treated with such hesitation.