In Mongolia, where the weight of tradition and Soviet rule still hang heavy, it is considered dangerously taboo to be a homosexual. Gays, lesbians, and transsexuals must keep their identities secret, often secluding themselves or participating in prostitution, in an attempt to safeguard their lives against violence and discrimination. In 2011, photographer Álvaro Laiz decided to capture the secret lives of these Mongolians in his series “Transmongolian.” Laiz initially traveled to Mongolia because he was interested in how the country’s newly opened borders affected the population, with the tradition of Mongolian culture meeting with Western influences from the outside. His research led him to connections with transgender individuals whose stories he decided to document with his photography.
Laiz captures these ostracized Monogolians conducting their day-today lives alongside images of them in traditional Mongolian queen costumes. Laiz’s Mongolian series is the first of a larger project exploring transgender people in societies across the world. (via huffington post)
Artist Gary Hovey constructs shiny animal sculptures by welding stainless steel utensils. Hovey uses the initial shape of the particular piece of cutlery – the curves of spoons, the spikeyness of forks, or the flatness of knives – to inform the overall form of the animal he is crafting. Each piece is unique – no molds are used to help shape his work. The most astounding part of Hovey’s work is that the artist has struggled with the effects of Parkinson’s disease since he was diagnosed in 1994. Since 2004, he has been welding flatware, and he finds producing and showing this work to be therapeutic. “I work when I’m able to move. Family and friends carry sculptures for me. But I still get to make them,” says Hovey. “I don’t think the quality has suffered, but it does take longer to make them. It helps financially support my family and it is therapy for me. It has allowed me to meet many wonderful people.” (via my modern met)
Ben Foster‘s sculptures almost appear to be comptuterized digital renderings at first glance. An industrial and natural artist, Foster creates these life-sized animal sculptures out of enamel-coated aluminum, often placing them in the natural environments that surround his New Zealand home. The sculptural form juxtaposed against the natural landscape has a stunning effect, appearing to be at once disparate and cohesive.
From his website, “Foster’s geometrical rendering is suggestive of the animal’s inherent connection to, and place within, the natural environment. Characteristically, it relies on the interplay of light and shadow and while the subject matter is ostensibly pastoral, the result is dramatic with the sculpture’s silhouette as commanding as the mountainous landscape it resembles.” (via colossal)
Photographer and grad student Kaija Straumanis has created a playful self-portrait series in which her image is captured right at the moment a random object seems to be thrown at her face. A pumpkin, book, dodgeball, boot, and even a mojito smash into Straumanis’ head, smooshing her face and glasses into an awkward contortion. Despite the impact of the objects, in each photo, Straumanus stares a seemingly unaffected gaze into the camera lens. The collisions are set during everyday tasks and among familiar environments, resulting in a humorous series of striking moments. According to HLN, Straumanis creates the photographs by layering images into a composite and artfully manipulating them until they appear seamless. She practices mashing objects into her face, looking into a mirror to create the perfect pose, then layers images accordingly. “I feel like it’s disappointing that I’m not actually getting beat up,” Straumanis admits. “I’m duping the Internet!” (via bored panda)
Matthew Pillsbury‘s long exposure photography series, “Screen Lives,” largely documents domestic activity related to screens that glow from televisions, computers, or mobile phones. Eleven of those photographs, however, represent a specific time during Pillsbury’s life when he fell in love with a man, left his wife, and came out as a gay man to his friends and family. This event changed the direction of Pillsbury’s project. While initially focused on photographing screen scenes with subjects who didn’t move around as much, Pillsbury’s project evolved once he met Nate. “I think it took the freedom of my coming out to make a picture like the one of Nate in Vegas or Cell Phone on Venice Beach. I was breaking down the very rules I had set for my own artistic project,” Pillsbury said. Documenting movement, intimacy, and relationship dynamics, Pillsbury’s collection is at once haunting and lucid.
The eleven photographs representing this transition are titled “Nate and Me” and will be on view at the Sasha Wolf Gallery in NYC until April 20. (via slate)
Brad Spencer doesn’t just build things out of bricks, he also sculpts them into existence. Much of his work is large-scale and features human figures or elements that appear to emerge naturally and seamlessly from this solid medium. Bricks are normally used architecturally to build structures with 90 degree angles. Spencer challenges this conception by creating fluid shapes from this recognizable form. He uses a relief technique – starting with unfired clay, he sculpts the walls and figures into a brickwork pattern. He then fires the pieces separately, and assembles the entire piece on the day it’s set to display. Spencer says,
“Brick sculpture can be dated back to ancient Babylon but remains a fresh and interesting enhancement to any building, wall or environment.
Projects may include bas (low) relief, high relief, full dimension free standing and often a combination. The brick medium has all the same characteristics of durability and low maintenance as a brick building, blends well in settings where other brick construction is present, looks good with landscaping and has a familiarity which is comforting to people. Brick sculpture adds intrigue and interest to a commonly understood material as viewers try to figure out the techniques by which it was created.” (via my modern met)
For his “Travelers” series, French artist Bruno Catalano sculpts human figures that contain missing pieces. Many of his bronze sculptures are missing a good portion of their torsos, asking the viewer to visually complete the sculptures using the space that surrounds them. The effect of his work varies with the location – a viewer could fill in the figures’ gaps with a variety of images the depend on the sculptures’ surrounding space, from the gallery to the park. Catalano creates an optical illusion, confronting the viewer with an image of impossibility that turns into intrigue. As a former sailor, Catalano has always been interested in the figure of the traveler. He says,
“I have travelled a lot and I left Morocco when I was 12 years old. I felt that a part of me was gone and will never come back. From years of being a sailor, I was always leaving different countries and places each time and it’s a process that we all go through. I feel like this occurs several times during life and of course everyone has missing pieces in his or her life that he wont find again. So the meaning can be different for everyone, but to me the sculptures represent a world citizen.”
Ten of Catalano’s sculptures can be found at the Port of Marseilles. (via the daily mail)
Michelle Hamer hand-stitches pixelated versions of photographs she’s taken of urban spaces, mainly those occupied by text found in advertising, signage, or graffiti. She stitches her images into perforated plastic, transforming flat, static images of everyday public urban life into tactile needlepoints that recall private and domestic spaces.
“I see my work as a type of socio-historic documentation. The images depicted are in between moments that we often take for granted. The obviously slow process allows viewers to become more conscious of these moments which are captured within an instant and consider the difference between the manual and the digital. The in-between spaces (on/off ramps of freeways etc.) where signage can often be found is both necessary for our infrastructure, but also generally not noticed. Similarly, much of the text, advertising signage, streetscapes are so familiar we can fail to focus/really see it, but it’s often reflective of our broader social ambitions, aspirations and edicts.”