Hawaiian artist Sally Lundburg is greatly influenced by her native land’s “history of ecological and social invasions and it’s shifting cultural landscape, as well as personal experiences of self-reliance, independence, isolation, and exposure to spirituality and faith.” She is a multi faceted artist, as she works with sculpture, photography, film and video to explore notions of identity and social dynamics.
On her recent stunning body of work, Epiphytes and Invasives (totem series), Lundberg creates sculptural objects that serve as a medium to further investigate and literally envision the social history of post-contact Hawaii and the diverse family lineages that make up Hawaii today.
These ‘sculptures’ are nothing more that milled longs and branches that have been “punctured with commercial pine woodworking plugs, rusty fencing stakes, upholstery pins, rope, and dried ma’o hau hele flowers”. However, it is the archival portraits that Lundburg imprints on them that, together with the organic elements, make this series a remarkable artistic endeavor.
Her works look simple, however there are reasons for each and every detail that she ads on her sculptural objects. It is important to appreciate and put further thought upon the juxtapositions of organic and inorganic materials, as well as her emphasis of trying to mesh these two opposites together. On her description of this series, Lundburg explains that Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants, and in rainforests [known for its tropical conditions, something that is an outright connection to Hawaii) just about any plant can grow epiphytically. Her usage of organic tropical flowers, plants and Koa logs together with the archival portraits work symbiotically to represent the social history of post-contact Hawaii and its diverse yet close-knitted family lineages that make up Hawaii today.
Spanish artist Oscar Parasiego creates Diaspora, a photographic series that illustrates the transformation and adaptation of individuals who emigrate to other countries in search of a better future.
At that point, there is a transition between the person we have been so far and the person we are going to be.
Inspired by his own move to the UK from Spain, Parasiego uses photography in order to literally depict the varying feelings and states of mind of immigrants as they seek comfort and stability in a brand new countries. Each of these ‘portraits’ are altered in order to only depict a silhouetted, invisible outline of the subject, one that interestingly reflects the environment around them. Through this technique, we are to assume that this person has seamlessly become part of their new environment. Their invisibility,tough positive in some ways, is telling of their struggles to be part of something new while also maintaining the old and familiar. We can say that by becoming part of this new environment (by blending in and becoming ‘invisible’), he/she (the immigrant) risks loosing their ‘true self’ by assimilating to customs and enviroments that are not truly theirs.
Parasiego’s work is telling of his struggles while transitioning to his new home. His experiences, and his renditions of them, nicely encapsulate the experiences of many (myself included). I moved to the U.S from Argentina about ten years ago, and my experiences in the first few years of living in the U.S felt significantly similar to those rendered in these photographs. Feeling invisible whilst trying to fit in by assimilation were two things that were hard to live through. Thankfully this state of mind, slowly but surely, went away, letting me became visible for who I was and for who I became once I was settled in my new home. (via Feature Shoot)
Photographer Cyril Crepin creates an extraordinary, poignant collection of photographs featuring portraits of facial reconstruction patients within the confines of the hospital in which they were operated on.
With the help of Professor Bernard Devauchelle, a leading surgeon at the hospital in which these individuals were in, Crepin photographs these subjects in order to celebrate, but most importantly, accentuate these individuals’ self-respect, playfulness and courage regardless their ‘monstrous’ appearance after surgery.
“They want to be recognized as human beings. Contrary to what people might say about this series, it’s not meant to be obscene or voyeuristic. Obscenity is to ignore their humanity and their extraordinary courage.”
Crepin’s work is emotionally intense and it is by no means easy to look at. It is sad to say, but many people will have a tough time looking at these just because of the deformities. This consequence is tough to acknowledge, but it is true. It is hard to admit that many of us will be disturbed and disgusted by the appearance of these people, but it is this sole purpose that, I think, runs Crepin’s artistic fuel throughout the creation of this series. The rawness of his subjects’ gaze and the fearless aura they portray is powerful and inspiring… their brilliance transcend the normative ideas about beauty. Their humble controbution to Crepin’s work teaches us that everyone, no matter what they went through or how they look like, deserves a little self-praise and respect.
Commercial photographer Matthew Rolston had built a career on entertainment portraiture, advertising, and music videos until 2009, the year in which he started venturing off his usual gigs.
“My professional work is subject to tremendous agendas; everything I do is mediated by a group of people, even the creative work is usually mentioned in a contract.
His next project became something more fun, with a bit more creative freedom, and a lack of human subjects. Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits, a 224-page book, features more than 50 portraits of Ventriloquist dummies from then Vent Haven Museum. Rolston uses his commercial skills, a rather formal photographic approach, to create human-like portraits of these creepy yet endearing dolls. The photographer re-appropriates techniques from his past in order to create a “personal response to the emanations of humanity that come from these terribly evocative inanimate objects.”
“By employing the same techniques and emotional approach I would apply to a human subject, I believe I was able to portray these figures in much the same way. … For me these figures have a yearning quality. They speak through their eyes, since their voices—voices of their ventriloquists—are now long silent. I found them to be endearing, hilarious, tragic, even disturbing—sometimes all at once.”
Berlin Based artist Deenesh Ghyczy creates Soul Out, a series of oil paintings that deal with the concept of out-of-body-experiences. These hazily surreal and unusual but stunning portraits feature a clear image of a concept that is often questioned by many. Through his paintings, he intends to blur the boundaries between reality and the figments of one’s imagination in order to give the viewer a chance to really visualize what such a thing would look like.
The painterly, yet realistic work displays each subject as a person with multiple existences. The overlapping lines and repetitive facial features allude to different levels of spiritual and/or physical realms. We can say that one of these levels is the physical space in which their current physical form exists, while the others are extension of the physical, perhaps a place in which the soul (an immaterial entity) meanders freely, with no restrictions from the materiel world.
Ghyczy’s previous works appear to be concerned with the multiplicity of the self, as well as inner reflection. His work often evoke feelings of serenity and contemplation as well as feelings of uncertainty and apprehension towards these abstract but very ‘real’ concepts.(via My Modern Met)
David Rochkind’s Heavy Hand, Sunken Spirit is a project about Mexico’s new normalcy: day-to-day violence and corruption due to Mexico’s violent drug war since the rise of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon.
Since his time in office, the battle against the country’s drug cartels has become a priority, and in consequence more than 50,000 people have been killed and kidnapped
The cartels in Mexico are ruthless, meting out an awesome brutality where heads are rolled into crowded discos and dismembered bodies are abandoned on busy streets.
Rochkind images intend to “frame the violence as a symptom”, as opposed to the problem. He is interested in documenting Mexico’s present situations in an unfiltered manner; he says, “when documenting this conflict it is important not to reduce what is happening to a series of nearly anonymous images of carnage that could be happening anywhere.” His honest imagery is not just about violence, though. In nutshell, these photographs tell a story, a present of people whom find themselves in these horrid yet mundane situations. The photograph’s rawness intend to offer a snapshot of history, essentially a set of documents that can be referred to later on, in order to answer questions and redefine Mexican culture in the future.
I chose to work on this project because it represents how a grand, intense struggle can be transformed into quiet, daily dramas that are woven seamlessly into the lives of those involved. I am drawn to extreme crises that become internalized, even routine, to the communities that they touch.
This work was published as a monograph by Dewi Lewis Publishing in December 2012 and was honored by PDN, photo-eye and Professional Photographer Magazine, as book of the year. The project has also been exhibited internationally, including at the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the Southeast Museum of Photography, the Blue Sky Gallery and others. (via feature shoot)
Dylan Shields, an artist based in London, creates sculptures that investigate the relationship between classical sculpture and contemporary materials.
The sculptures further explore and build upon the existent relationship between canonical works of art (in this case and its contexts within modern society by creating them out of cardboard, a relatively new (ish) material in the realm of art-making. He uses re-cycled cardboard and parcel tape to produce work that is at both familiar yet fresh by its original use of form and perspective.
“It has been a process of trial and error to perfect my style. One of the challenges of working with cardboard is the limitation of its flexibility. Also, sourcing the right colors has been difficult as I don’t paint the sculptures, so the colors have to come from the cardboard.”
American artist Jenny Fine creates Flat Granny, a life-sized cardboard cut-out of her grandmother. The artist is interested in creating a tangible ‘thing’ that would resemble her dear, and very influential relative. With this cut-out, she attempts to extend a relationship beyond death. Apart from the cutout, Fine goes a bit further and develops a more’ carnal’ approach to the cut-out of her grandmother…
In an interest to reanimate her still image, I turned Flat Granny’s photographic body into a costume.
The bizarre, yet endearing idea is inspired by Victorian traditions of post-mortem photography, as well as the novel concept of a Flat Daddy/Mommy , photographic cut-outs of deployed soldiers for their children/ family while the soldier is away at war.
The photographs you see here feel and look surreal. However, there is no way to escape these vibes when you are looking at an object that in essence represents the absence of someone dearly missed and loved. This project is personal, but it also goes deeper than just a moving gesture from a loving granddaughter. It brings forth the realities of our attachment to the physical world- and the physical body, as well as the lengths we would go to in order to fill that void we feel when we’ve lost someone important in our lives.
Can something like this do the trick? Or would it be just plain weird and inappropriate?