Photographer Zack Seckler‘s “Humor” series captures moments of absurdity and whimsy with a subtle aesthetic. His muted color palette and compositions often feature a single figure placed within a humorous context. The effect of the humor is subtle partly because of the color palette and also because it’s often just a small detail that catalyzes the humorous story in each photograph – one that is up to the viewer to interpret. Most of his photographs are composed of absurd juxtapositions and placements, recontextualizing activities or objects in order to point out some aspect of absurdity.
Seckler says, “People view life through their own lens. I enjoy refocusing that lens and playing with our expectations of the world. By putting an uncommon twist on common experiences, I create images that inspire humor and imagination. With that, I hope to expand each person’s view -– for at least a moment.”
Finnish photographer Perttu Saska has created this unsettling series of Jakarta street monkey photographs titled “A Kind Of You.” These monkeys are captured as they are: dressed in children’s clothes and wearing doll faces, their chains often visible. Apparently, training and dressing monkeys to act like humans to ask for money is an Asian tradition – one that has escalated to dire conditions and circumstance for these poor creatures.
Thankfully, upon searching for more information about these monkeys and this tradition, I stumbled across a BBC article published yesterday that cites the removal of the first 11 out of 350 monkeys from Jakarta streets. They have been quarantined where they will likely remain for a few months before they can be released back into the wild. Since 2009, animal rights activists have been campaigning against this cruel tradition, and hope that this initial removal will set the stage for complete banishment of this cruel practice.
Of his series, Saska writes, “Modern city culture has turned the old tradition in to eerie and haunting act of cruel street theatre where animals become something else, never able to reach our expectations.” With the awareness created by people like Saska and animal rights activists, these Indonesian monkeys hopefully won’t have to be subjected to the unreasonable expectations of their human handlers any longer. (via ufunk)
After her parents were murdered in Tehran, Parastou Forouhar was exiled to Germany. Just like her parents, Forouhar is critical of the Iranian government, and it is with this adherence to and separation from her Iranian identity that her work is based. Forourhar says, “The production of identity, and the repressive mechanisms by which it is reified, comprise the focus of my work. My homeland, Iran, is a constant theme in my artistic practice, but the conception is complex and continuously in flux. Beyond Iran, there is also the collective memory of Germany, where I have lived since 1991. When I arrived there, I was Parastou Forouhar, but I have since become ‘Iranian.’ Every space I inhabit is accompanied by a feeling of displacement.”
For her “Written Room” project, Forouhar covers the blank surfaces of gallery and museum spaces with Persian calligraphy. This creates an elegant aesthetic that is fragmented and fluid. “Whereas the white walls of the gallery room are raised to a universal norm and an unmarked instance, the Oriental ornament stands for difference or the deviating.The writing is also strange, if not alien, because it is illegible for Western visitors – as an ‘incomprehensible’ text it becomes a pure ornament. In defying attempts by Western visitors to assign it meaning, the script remains locked into its irreducible pictorial graphicness and indissoluble representation.” Even if one had a grasp of the Persian language, they would only be able to decipher fragments and syllables of the language that are not part of any linear order. Forouhar’s work ultimately seeks to bridge the gaps in her identity as an Iranian and German. (via fubiz)
The work of Melbourne based artist Justine Khamara may at first appear to be digital manipulations, but these sculptures are in fact photographs that have been physically manipulated. By cutting, shredding, and shaping pieces of mostly portrait photographs, Khamara creates these absurd and warped images. She sculpts some photographs into spheres or other three-dimensional forms, others she weaves or skews but maintains more of the image of the original photograph, only with a warped effect. In some of her work, she has copied the image of a single body part multiple times, and sculpted fractal-like shapes that give an appearance of continuity. The hand-cut precision of these constructions demonstrates Khamara’s fine attention to detail and use of a medium that usually utilizes a broader variety of images. (via skumar’s)
Photographer Endia Beal has created corporate-style portraits of white women with hairstyles often worn by black women for her series, “Can I Touch It?”. Beal was first inspired to do this project after interning in the IT department at Yale while she was there earning her M.F.A. At the time, Beal, who is tall and black, was sporting a large red afro. She stood out among her mostly shorter, white male colleagues, and one even mentioned to her that a rumor was circulating around the office that the men were curious about her hair and wanted to touch it. She eventually asked some of her male colleagues to touch her hair, and even pull it. A week later, she recorded their reactions. She wanted the men to experience something new, and they were admittedly uncomfortable.
She next sought out middle-aged women who work in the corporate world for “Can I Touch It?”. ”I wanted people that had a certain idea of what you’re supposed to look like in the workspace, because it would be a challenge for them to understand what I experienced in that space…And to a degree, many young white women have shared that experience, but for older white women it’s an experience they haven’t necessarily had.”
“I said, ‘I am going to give you a black hairstyle,’ and they were like, ‘You’re going to give me cornrows?’ ” Beal recalls. “And I said, ‘No, we’re going to do finger waves.’ ‘Finger waves? What’s that? You mean from the ’20s?’ And I said, ‘These are a little bit different type of finger waves!’ ”
She says the women were excited to learn something new and to show off their hairstyles. Through this project, Beal hopes to start a conversation among people who come from various gender, race, and generational backgrounds, especially within the rigidity of a corporate environment. She is currently in North Carolina continuing this project, and is considering having the women enter and work at their offices with these new styles, after which she would record their experiences. (via slate)
New York City based artist Klaus Enrique constructs portraits based on painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s 400 year old work that features human figures with features represented by images of plant, fruit, or other organic elements. Enrique was inspired to create these portraits while photographing a human eye peeking out of leaves. He thought he could use leaves to construct facial features or masks. After some research, Enrique discovered Arcimboldo’s paintings and decided to recreate the images. This project has also inspired him to recreate other portraits, like those of Darth Vader, Gandhi, and The Terminator.
Enrique says, “Although most recognize the images immediately as portraits, there are many people who do not. At first they only see the individual parts of the image: the fruits, flowers, and vegetables. But after looking at it for a while, they realize that it’s a portrait of a person. To see that thought process being played out in real time is very satisfying to me because it mimics the thinking behind the art: that simple organic objects come together to create something more meaningful than the sum of its parts.” (via lens scratch)
These incredible coin sculptures were created by artist Robert Wechsler, who was commissioned by The New Yorker to create this work for their October 14th “Money” themed issued. Wechsler’s coin designs are crafted with money from varying countries of origin into geometric, fractal-like shapes. These shapes were created using a jeweler’s saw to cut out notches in the metal and then linked together with other coins. Wechsler has used coins for some of his past work, and most of his sculptures are created with objects from life’s seeming mundanity, like fingerprints, schooldesks, snails, a toaster, and an iron.
Wechsler writes, “Comfortably accustomed to everyday objects and spaces, we are blind to their unseen beauty and elegance. Who looks at a shopping cart or a toaster for the object itself? This state of static expectations is fertile ground for surprise. It is a conscious re-examination of my subjects that re-instates the novel back into the familiar. This is the moment of surprise, the moment we discover what is unseen in what is always seen. In reverence for what initially appears modest we get a small glimpse of the boundless elegance of our world.”(via exhibition-ism)
Costa Rica based artist Marco Battaglini creates large pastiche paintings that combine a handful of genres, styles, and references. His paintings are often reminiscent of a Renaissance composition and include classicist figures painted alongside more modern imagery like graffitied walls, tattooed bodies, varying artistic allusions like Warhol and Lichtenstein, and other pop culture details. Upon closer inspection of the paintings, it becomes clear that the effect of the compositions reveals spatial and temporal disruptions that limit the interpretation of the paintings’ realities.
According to his Saatchi profile, Battaglini, “invites us to think that in today’s global village, with the ‘democratization’ of culture, the evolution of knowledge, information immediacy, immersed in the heterogeneity, the Patchwork Culture forces us to confront with a need understanding beyond our geographical boundaries of time.” (via hifructose)