Tony Matelli‘s realistic “Sleepwalker” sculpture has created a bit of controversy among students at Wellesley, where the sculpture was installed outside of the college’s Davis Musuem. For Lisa Fischman, the museum’s director, the sculpture addresses the boundary of what we expect from art inside a museum versus the outside. Junior Zoe Magdid, the student who initiated a petition to have the sculpture removed, disagrees. “We were really disappointed that she seemed to articulate that she was glad it was starting discussion, but didn’t respond to the fact that it’s making students on campus feel unsafe, which is not appropriate,” Magid said. “We really feel that if a piece of art makes students feel unsafe, that steps over a line.” More than 300 students have signed the petition so far.
While I can see how Wellesley students could find the sculpture threatening or triggering, I am curious how they would have reacted if Matelli’s female sleepwalker sculpture were installed instead. Most students would probably not feel as threatened by its presence, but that sort of perception would only perpetuate the idea that men alone embody a physical threat, though women are also capable of sexual abuse against others.
However you choose to perceive the sculpture, Matelli’s work provokes viewers and asks them to consider not only the absurdity of a “schlumpy” man sleepwalking campus in his underwear, but also how certain bodies and genders are perceived inside and outside the art gallery. Some of Matelli’s other sculpture work can also be perceived as creepy, but they all seem to address notions of boundaries and gravity, and the defiance of particular expectations. (via gawker)
Chris Ritson combines ceramics with elemental transformation to create these stunning bismuth sculptures. The smoothness and seeming purity of the ceramic form contrasts with the spontaneous explosiveness of the bismuth that emerges from the heads of his subjects, demonstrating a gorgeous dynamism of form and content.
From his artist statement: “Bismuth is an archival element, that under specific, synthetic conditions crystalizes into a distinct hopper shaped crystal form. This crystalline structure of multicolored lattice of cubes within cubes is utilized to simulate the Tesseract, a 4th Dimensional cube. Imagine the Tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. In our thoughts, as well as dreams, we construct a reality within countless imperceivable dimensions, and the realm of the Tesseract is the first that evades our five senses. As artwork is meant to herald a great movement in the viewer into unknown lands of experience, these works are manifestations of the great mythic beacons of ineffable transmissions: Immortal Gods plucked form our literary tradition, all linked to the bridge that connects humans to the imperceivable truths beyond the body.” (via my amp goes to 11)
Jane Perkins reproduces classic paintings using found plastic objects like buttons, beads, jewelry, shells, toy figures, LEGOs, and other plastic items. With her careful and meticulous arrangements, she faithfully recalls well-known works, enhancing the texture of them and creating interesting depth. She implements each item’s original color and shape skillfully into the compositions, illustrating shades and lines with the outlines of the objects. From afar, her pieces could pass for prints of these famous works, but up close, the viewer is granted another layer of appreciation for them. Perkins applies her background in textile design to her plastic found object arrangements, artfully utilizing the textures of each object. (via my modern met)
Camilo José Vergara’s 40-year project, “Tracking Time,” chronicles urban transformation in some of the poorest and most segregated communities in the Northeastern United States. In Camden, New Jersey, one of the poorest cities he regularly visits during his documentation, he captures what he calls “Paired Houses”: two dwellings that share a wall, one of them occupied, the other empty. Because each dwelling is part of the same building, Vergara is able to capture the stark contrast between deteriorated and maintained habitats, reflecting the declining state of Camden’s housing market. For some of the photographs, Vergara returns to a building he’s previously documented in order to chronicle the absence of formerly dilapidated buildings.
In his photo essay for Slate, Vergara writes,”If a resident of a middle-class neighborhood dies or moves to a nursing home, or if a dwelling burns, the empty house is usually guarded or secured by the owner’s family. The police keep an eye out for it. Neighbors, well-aware of the impact of a deteriorating eyesore on property values, alert city officials whenever they see a house falling into disrepair. The situation is quickly brought under control.
It’s different in a crumbling inner city like Camden. Even Walt Whitman’s old house at 328 Mickle St.—the only home he ever owned—was by the 1980s adjacent to a vacant three-story dwelling and just two houses away from a ruin. House values in Camden are low and likely to remain so since the population of the city is declining, unemployment is high, and there is little new demand for houses. The number of vacant houses is likely to increase; many will eventually be acquired by the city, which is too poor either to board them up or to demolish them.”
For Cynthia Greig‘s project, “Representations,” the artist whitewashes objects with ordinary white house paint before using charcoal to outline the items, then photographing the transformed objects against a white background. The effect renders the image as two-dimensional, appearing to be digitally manipulated or hand-drawn. The objects used, now in black and white, appear more iconic and symbolic than they would appear unaltered. In her artist statement, Greig explains that her work is an homage toWilliam Henry Fox Talbot and his treatise, “The Pencil of Nature.” Greig’s photographs ask observers to consider the truth of photography by challenging our perception of the reality of common objects.
“I’m interested in how we learn to see, identify and remember, and the role images play in the codification of perceptual and mnemonic experience. By denying certain aesthetic expectations and assumptions, Representations intends to interrupt a more conventional, passive viewing experience, and provoke the viewer into seeing a photograph as if for the first time.” (via my modern met)
Lindsay Bottos, a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, has created “Anonymous,” a series of webcam selfies overlain with anonymous messages she’s received via her Tumblr page. The messages Bottos uses criticize her appearance, body-shaming and slut-shaming the selfies she’s posted to her Tumblr page. “I get tons of anonymous messages like this every day and while this isn’t unique to women, the content of the messages and the frequency in which I get them are definitely related to my gender. I almost exclusively get them after I post selfies. The authority people feel they have to share their opinion on my appearance is something myself and many other girls online deal with daily.”
The timing of Bottos’ project coincides with a recent article published by Pacific Standard that makes the case for online harassment, especially of women, as the next issue facing women’s civil rights. Even through a medium like the internet, a platform perceived as a level playing field of expression, women receive a disproportionate amount of threats and abuse related to their gender and appearance. Bottos asserts, “The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.”
Bottos’ other projects also heavily feature text, written or embroidered, onto various surfaces. For “Get Over It,” Bottos embroidered thoughts about her sexual assault onto a tear- and mascara-stained pillowcase; for “The Morning After,” she wrote thoughts in permanent marker in places touched by a hook-up; and for “I Don’t Really Miss You,” Bottos embroidered thoughts about a relationship onto images, clothing, and mementos. Whichever medium she uses, Bottos conveys her vulnerability though language and form, rendering an honest and engaging perspective. (via buzzfeed)
Photographer Randy Taylor had around 40 years of work archived in a storage facility that he wasn’t allowed access to until weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit. He was aware of the possibility that his work might be damaged, but wasn’t prepared for what he encountered when he arrived at the storage unit. “I descended into the smelly, wet, and dark bowels of the powerless building, which had flooded floor-to-ceiling with contaminated water,” Taylor said via email. “What I found was a jumbled, gooey mess of papers and things 3 to 8 feet high. It took the first day to carve out a vertical space just 2 feet into the unit, so I could merely walk in the door.”
Taylor tried to salvage as much as he could, but the damage and mold was so intense, that he was only able to recoup a few dozen images out of around 30,000 he had in storage. The photographs he selected weren’t based on any method; he just wanted to save as many as possible. After he selected his photographs, he dipped them in an alcohol solution to clean off the mold and stave off further destruction, though the damage has already been done, and will likely worsen with time.
Despite the sad loss of professional and family photographs, photography equipment, computers, and financial records, Taylor is heartened by the attention his Hurricane Sandy photographs are now receiving.” It’s been satisfying to have my images noticed again. Thanks to Sandy, they are truly unique.” ( via juxtapoz and slate)
Caleb Charland (previously featured here and here) newest photography project features mesmerizing light displays using mostly fruit, a nail, copper wire, and the long exposure technique. These organic batteries produce enough of a current for Charland to capture the light’s illumination in these long exposure photographs.
“My current body of work, Back to Light, expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery. By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never ceases to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources…my hope is that these photographs function as micro utopias by suggesting and illustrating the endless possibilities of alternative and sustainable energy production. The cycle that begins with the light of our closest star implanting organic materials with nutrients and energy, is re-routed in these images, Back to Light, illuminating earth once again.” (via this isn’t happiness)