Tatiana Blass’s Wax Figures Melt From Within

wax figure Installation

wax art InstallationTatiana Blass - Installation

Metade da fala no chão_ Piano surdo, Tatiana Blass [Half of the speech on the ground - deaf piano] from Tatiana Blass on Vimeo.

Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.

Spine against spine.

On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.

The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.

This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.

The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.

Diane Arbus: Photographing Freaks Or The Costumes We Wear Year-Round

Diane Arbus - Photography

Diane Arbus - Photography Diane Arbus - Photography

Diane Arbus - Photography

As we wave goodbye to Halloween, let’s take a minute to mediate on the innately striking work of Diane Arbus and her unbiased approach to documenting not just the spookier side of humanity, but even more so, the masks or costumes we present to the world as a species, as human beings, as ourselves . . . year-round.

Now, when I use the word “unbiased” here I am not suggesting Arbus’s eye is roaming and invisible. Quite the contrary. Her eye is always distinctly there: focused, from one frame to the next. This “unbiased” quality has more to do with her indiscriminate examination of each subject in the same oddly intimate and unflinching way– regardless of class, age, gender, sexual preference, or race. In other words, a child with a toy hand grenade in the park looks equally as strange as the a woman lounging next to a toy poodle or a handful of residents dressed up on Halloween at a home for the mentally retarded. No one person, group, or act is more privileged. No one is all the more beautiful. We are all playing dress-up as far as identity and image is concerned.

By seeking out each individual’s innate desire to present him or herself and critically or creatively twisting that into her own perception of costume in each person’s presentation, Arbus became not just a photographer, but an alchemist, shifting our ideas of self, reality, and personal intention. Whether you are a part of celebrity culture or a more marginalized society spread out along the fringe, Arbus’s certain way of looking did not glorify one way of living over the other.

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Angelo Merendino Photographs His Wife’s Battle With Terminal Cancer

1cancer battler

death by cancer

Five months after being wed in Central Park, while most couples are settling into a new blissful life together, Angelo Merendino and his wife Jennifer received troubling news: Jennifer had breast cancer.

Of this diagnosis, and the journey that ensued, Angelo states, “With each challenge we grew closer. Words became less important. One night Jen had just been admitted to the hospital, her pain was out of control. She grabbed my arm, her eyes watering, ‘You have to look in my eyes, that’s the only way I can handle this pain.’”

Angelo took his wife’s request seriously and his photographs, collected here, document not just her struggle with cancer, but also a certain compassionate way of looking– a presence from behind the lens that is not exploiting nor agenda-driven. Each black and white image from Angelo shows the necessity of bearing witness or being a vulnerable presence that is sharing in the difficult and very human experience of love and loss.

Angelo additionally notes, “We loved each other with every bit of our souls. Jen taught me to love, to listen, to give and to believe in others and myself. I’ve never been as happy as I was during this time.”

For those of us touched by cancer, we can relate to Angelo’s statement — sickness is not just about the disease, it’s about relationships: how we deepen with one another by practicing empathy and how this feeling palpably echoes long after someone passes. Capturing this feeling in art, the way Angelo has, connects not just two people, but many millions more.

Dimitri Kozyrev Paints Disrupted Landscapes To Critique The Edges Of Art And War


Dimitri Kozyrev - Painting

Dimitri Kozyrev - Painting

Dimitri Kozyrev - Painting

Dimitri Kozyrev’s paintings are captivating, to say the least. His color precision from plane to line and surface to sky balances the ephemerally abstract beautifully with a hardened environment. This compositional fracturing feels like ice cracking on the pond, disrupting the reflection or illusion of us and our structures, before we crash into a new reality.

This “crash” echoes of Constructivism or Futurism, with deep contemporary critique on not just the disruption of landscape during wartime, but maybe even more so, the distortion of self, identity, and technology in relation to art and activism as these terms relate to the avant-garde, painting, and intention in today’s milieu.

On this note, Kozyrev elaborates:

“I have titled this body of work ‘Lost Edge.’ I use the word ‘edge’ because I draw a comparison between the notion of the avant-garde in war and the art world. In the early 20th Century, the avant-garde was at the height of its importance in both realms. Now, however, I maintain that just as the concept of the military avant-garde has been “lost,” because of changes in methods of warfare, the avant-garde in the contemporary art world, has also lost its edge.

“The source material for this body of work is images of ruins of the once mighty fortifications of the Mannerhiem Line, built to protect Finland from the advances of the Soviet military avant-garde. Finland’s attempt was valiant and not in vain; this war and the lives that were lost in 1939 are largely forgotten. The fortification lie in ruins, and nature is slowly reclaiming them. Similarly, the ‘cutting edge’ of the contemporary art world seems to have become blunted. Viewers of the avant-garde work of many visionary artists of the early 20th Century were shocked, challenged and inspired by The Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ and ‘Fountain’ of Marcel Duchamp. Because of changes in society, like changes in warfare, it has become difficult for today’s contemporary artist to generate the same level of response without resorting to vulgarity.”

Ernesto Neto’s Massive Installations Address Mind/Body Relationships

Ernesto Nesto - Installation

Ernesto Nesto - Installation

Ernesto Nesto - Installation

Ernesto Neto’s installations ache of a strange dreamy womb I’m sleepwalking towards, one that promises 100 years of hibernation, an extended respite that is sensually comforting and yet also terrifying claustrophobic. It’s a peculiar feeling– a mushy feeling, a propelling and repulsive feeling, or push and pull, that I can’t stop leaning into.

I am not my body, yet I am my body.

Unintentionally echoing motifs in David Cronenberg’s psychological horror films, Neto’s “beyond abstract minimalism” worlds seem to confront the dysfunctional relationship we have with our internal and external selves, and the weeping orifices that connect us to one another on a physical and emotional level. Each path is carved viscerally, interactively– ideally, playfully, but admittedly, horrifyingly in our own image, resembling internal organs and wads of flesh and goo. We are attracted to this, and this attraction is disturbing.

Of his work, and perhaps of this feeling I’m describing, in an interview with Bill Arning, Neto states, “Do you understand the word sacanagem? It’s a Portuguese word that does not translate well. It is beyond flirting. It’s after that, in that moment when both of your faces change into something else because the erotic charge is so high, when your bodies move towards each other. I wanted the work to manifest sacanagem without talking about it. It’s all subtextual. My work is first and foremost a contemporary sculpture; it speaks of the finite and the infinite, of the macroscopic and the microscopic, the internal and external, by the masculine and feminine powers, but sex is like a snake, it slithers through everything.”

Uta Barth’s Photographs Quote The Lightness In Her Own Life

Uta Barth - Photography

Uta Barth - Photography

Uta Barth - Photography

Uta Barth uses photography to capture her own personal dreamy moments with light, and in doing so, exposes its environmental power over our solitude and romance . . . or romance with solitude.

As a viewer, I find myself drawn to the window, the curtain, and the wall in each piece, not only because it’s illuminated accordingly with sharp visceral attention, but also because I’m intrigued with how the mundane awakens. It feels childlike, reminiscient of a world without technology and other busy distractions. Ironically, or maybe not so, it also feels wise– close to death. There’s drama in the little details as the hand pulls back the curtain or the camera approaches the glow. It’s not so much about being a voyeur as it is about being here and being still– sharing the space where light opens into mood and reflection.

Of her work, Barth notes, “In most photographs the subject and the content are one and the same thing. My work is first and foremost about perception.”

To say these pieces are only about composition: space or pattern, would be to ignore the aura around the intention of these images, which are all shot inside her home– there’s a depth that resonates with an almost intrinsic documentary feeling. Unlike James Turrell, she does not appear to be mathematically immersing us in the immediate moment of light and awareness; instead, she’s quoting from the lightness in her own life, and we are privy enough to bear witness.

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s Street Art Confronts Sexual Harassment

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh - Street Arttatyana fazlalizadeh - street art

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh - Street Art

Tatyana Fazlalizadeh, a Brooklyn-based painter and illustrator, responds to street harassment by creating dialogues through art in public places. Stop Telling Women To Smile, a series of portraits depict strong willed women responding to catcalls or inappropriate comments.

This series, which has been fostering solid conversations since it’s 2012 NY inception, is simple in its assertion, yet complex in the response. Madison Carlson of Feminspire addresses some male reactions the work has evoked, one of which involved a penis being drawn on the woman’s face. The New York Times additionally notes: “Andrés Carlos, 50, stood by the freshly pasted posters on Tompkins Avenue. ‘A woman likes nothing more than being told she is beautiful,’ he said. ‘For me, this is ridiculous.’”

But, Fazlalizadeh and Carlson disagree with Carlos. This is not about beauty, but control. Carlson asserts, “Yelling or whistling at a woman on the street like she’s a dog who will come when you call, or telling a woman to ‘Smile. It can’t be that bad. You’d be so much prettier if you smiled,’ dehumanizes her. It reduces her purpose to pleasing the male gaze. The posters, answering that reduction with confrontation, are meant to show street harassers that they are not entitled to women’s smiles or any other part of them.”

What do you think?

 

Arne Svenson’s Photographs Of Death Portraits Created From The Bones Of The Dead

Arne Svenson - Photography

Arne Svenson - Photography Arne Svenson - Photography

These sculptures are made from the bones of dead people. The photographic portraits of these sculptures are made by Arne Svenson. What results is Unspeaking Likeness, a strangely captivating series of death portraits, collected here.

For four years, Svenson sojourned from coroner’s offices to law enforcement agencies allover the country, snapping photographs of facial reconstruction sculptures which were built by forensic artists and molded from unidentifiable victims’ skeletal remains, with the intention of resolving crimes.

The narrative hidden behind each “face” is a mystery, and, as viewers, our own hearts tense with sadness when considering each subject’s lurid last moments of life. It’s almost too much; so, we reject the idea of reconstruction in relation to rejuvenation. It feels psychological, how we need to detach. The “face” in the context of Svenson’s portraits are not representative of an emotional life nor physical body; instead, it’s a mask or doll with a troubling echo, seemingly touched by the hands of Frankenstein.