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Animals Being Human: Darren Holmes’ Photography Explores The Dichotomy Between Instinct And Intellect

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I Look Pretty While Doing It

Darren Holmes - Photography

Always the Chosen Ones

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Cavalcade of Victors

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Eaten by the Rushmore Presidents

Darren Holmes is a photographer whose works explore the dichotomy between instinctual, “animal” life, and the rationalizing, “civilized” mind. Entitled animals being human, this series depicts nude (or nearly nude) paint-splattered men and women engaged in strange and frisky behaviors, such as crouching and crawling on the floor, burrowing in hay, and playing with cardboard props. Each image is abstract, elaborate, and tinged with humor, with a lot of “meaning” intentionally left to the imagination: what are they doing, and for what purpose? The confounding, playful absurdity is entirely Holmes’ intention, as he seeks to unravel our innate drives and behaviors from the constructions and constraints of intellect and social conditioning. As he explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:

“To me, all of the things that unify us as really human are things beneath intellect, the guttural stuff like pain response, elation, pleasure, anguish, anger, the search for warmth and companionship, that kind of thing.  They’re all concerns of the body, instinctive and what we associate with animal behaviour.

Then we have these clever, intellectual, analytical minds which maybe sit over top of it all, rationalizing, regulating us, attempting to moderate all the stuff underneath.  There are probably good reasons we need to do this sometimes, to act civilly with each other.  But in some ways, I think intellect becomes how we distract ourselves from facing some truths.”

What Holmes’ work signifies, then, is a playful deconstruction of the “human,” a species category which is so often defined in opposition to “animals”. In many cases, contemporary (and intellectualized) humanity has actively separated itself from earthly “filth” — mud, blood, excrement, and anything “messy” — in order to achieve a sense of species-based superiority. “I mean, we must be more enlightened than those that came before us … right?” Holmes writes, tongue-in-cheek. “Maybe we just want to believe certain things to avoid facing issues, like how little we’ve changed … that we’re just dirty, shitting, fucking, fighting primates, and how temporary we really are in this world.”

Given the delightfully absurd energy of Holmes’ photos, I enquired about his method, which he described as a “live performance”; each scene is a holistic accumulation of energy and creativity, involving “like-minded people who want to use their bodies to capture something that can only come from a sort of lengthy, improvised dance punctuated by exchanges [and] ideas.” The props are similarly spontaneous; mostly limited to “cardboard, canvas, wood, [and] paint,” the models indulge in a youthful approach to these objects, making the props imaginative and representational rather than over-intellectualized and “concrete” in their meaning. In this way, Holmes deconstructs adulthood as well, that phase in our lives when we are taught to overanalyze and constantly moderate and rationalize our behaviors.

Visit Holmes’ website and Facebook page and follow him as he explores physicality and the intimate, pre-intellectual connections that exist between all of us human animals. (Via Art Fucks Me)

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Rubbish Fairy: Berlin Junk Artist Turns Discarded Trash Into Kitschy Costumes And Masks

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Junk artist Rubbish Fairy (Sophie Soni) is constantly hoarding, collecting, cutting, gluing and arranging, yeap you guessed it, rubbish. She manages to take discarded plastic bits and pieces and turns them into wearable, kitschy, technicolor rainbow explosions. Soni fashions together chunky head pieces, masks, breastplates, dresses for different performers, musicians, artists, and fashion shoots. Basically anything that can adorn the body, she has it covered. Her pieces include stunningly ornate chandelier head dresses, or Victorian-style flouncy dresses littered with cheap and cheerful gems, or balaclava masks covered with red silicon lips, pig noses and multiple strings of beads. She has even chopped up soft toys in the past and used their various limbs and heads as different bits of jewelry.

Ms Fairy piles everything on all at once and manages to bask in the chaos she creates. As a comment on consumer culture, vanity, the fashion industry, and the economy of desire, her work is reminiscent of installation artist Mike Kelley. Both manage to exist simultaneously within and outside of pop culture. They heavily reference, and use the resources from the world around them, yet manage to place themselves in an order separate from it.

Rubbish Fairy’s world is a surreal, captivating, all encompassing one – where, if you’ve been in it for long enough, you will start to see the trash around you quite differently. See more of her out-of-this-world creations after the jump.

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Ruper Shrive Turns His Paintings Into Masterful Crumpled Sculptures

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Rupert Shrive turns his paintings into sculptures by crumpling, twisting, and sometimes including odd materials to create architecturally evocative works. In some of his works, the three-dimensional elements complement his portraits; in others, they deform the faces of his works, twisting cheeks and lips and replacing noses and eyes to create a patchwork of various styles and colors.
When you look at Shrive’s work, you get the sense that there’s something urgent and almost desperate being communicated. At the very least, you feel a slight wince as you think about how much of a calculated risk he must have taken. In an interview with Michael Peppiatt, Shrive says of his process: “… It is painful and I’m always very scared when I start crushing them and it’s very risky because you only have so many movements you can make before you’ve lost the big dynamic crush that you’re going for.
Risky as it is, that extra third dimension is a crucial element of Shrive’s artwork, enabling him to highlight certain features and create unique landscapes out of his portraits. (h/t I Need A Guide)

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The Drawings Of Janusz Grunspek Are Wooden Wireframes Suspended In Space

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An artist from Poland now living in Germany brings drawing into the 21st century the old fashioned way. Instead of paper Janusz Grunspek builds narratives into thin air. Combining all the traditional elements of sketching he takes thin pieces of wood similar to sticks and constructs simple line structures. When complete and let loose on the world, they vibrate as three dimensional living objects never static and speak in a way similar to how we might visualize sound waves. The artist mainly constructs still life motifs and other inanimate objects such as violins, analog tape recorders and coffee makers. Their end result is anything but ‘dead’ and when viewed from the right angle move gracefully in space.
Some of what Grunspek creates adds credence to his practice. He seems to favor the old fashioned forms of electronics such as reel to reel movie projector, old surveillance camera and chandelier. Things of the past which have shaped our lives  today. There is no digital or software program used to make his work just a collection of old fashioned tools and materials. As technology advances at a speedball rate, Grunspek brings us back to basics and shows us that old traditions can become new again with a little innovation. (via thisiscolossal)

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Mark Holthusen Photographs Eerie Similarities Between Show Dogs And Owners

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In a professional dog show, the canines are supposed to be the stars, and the humans’ presence fall to wayside. But, just because people aren’t the main focus doesn’t mean that they aren’t picture-worthy themselves. When photographer Mark Holthusen was on an advertising assignment for Purina at the National Dog Show, he was supposed to just take pictures of the dogs. He also snapped these photos while their owners were prepping the canines. The result is a candid series titled Second in Show.

Holthusen set the portraits against a solid black background that highlights the gestures and facial expressions of the owners. Some are seen seriously primping and preparing for the dog’s show, while others look more relaxed and even eccentric. And, you can’t help but notice how the duos (or trio) take after each other. Hair color, style, and demeanor are all eerily similar, proving that people really can look like their pets.

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Crochet Artist Olek Covers A Homeless Shelter In India With Technicolor Yarn

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Polish artist Olek not only treats her crochet practice as an art form, but also as a catalyst for social change, or at least political and societal commentary. As a part of the St+art Delhi street festival in Delhi, she chose a homeless shelter to decorate with her colorful and energetic woolen pieces. Enlisting the help of fashion design labels in India to not only donate fabric and materials to her community project, but also volunteering helpers, she was able to cover a huge space. Paying homage to India’s infamous textile economy and bright culture, Olek stitches vivid patterns of purples, blues, reds, yellows and oranges together.

She normally recreates anything in stitches that crosses her way – from text messages to medical reports to found objects; she has even covered an entire studio apartment and a life-size dinosaur with her signature crochet. She says of her intention behind her work:

My work changes from place to place. I studied the science of culture. With a miner’s work ethic, I long to delve deeper and deeper into my investigations. My art was a development that took me away from industrial, close-minded Silesia, Poland. It has always sought to bring color and life, energy, and surprise to the living space. I intend to take advantage of living in NYC with various neighborhoods and, with my actions, create a feedback to the economic and social reality in our community. (Source)

Always working with the public in the back of her mind, Olek has produced work in some pretty interesting settings, from Brazil to Brooklyn, and for some interesting causes. For more of her projects, see here. (Via Hi Fructose)

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Beomsik Won’s Collages Form New Buildings From Disparate Architecture

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Artist Beomsik Won collages images of different architectural works to form one unified structure. The photographs feature a gray wash over the disparate features to increase their sense of cohesion. Won calls this the Archisculpture Photo Project, writing:

René Descartes viewed as beautiful the order and coherency of structures designed by a single architect; the purpose of the Archisculpture Photo Project, however, is to create architectural sculptures by collaging photographs of diverse architectural works from various architects. In this way, Archisculpture Photos are both similar and different to the organic romanticism of old cities built through the works of myriad architects, for they represent the artist’s subjective interpretation and decisions regarding various architects’ numerous designs.

Won’s assemblages create the illusion of a metropolis. “Like collectors who arrange and classify their acquisitions with great care, artists analyze selected city fragments gathered from here and there and with them create their sculptures.” He goes on to write, “What exist[s] now as disparate structures are reborn as beautiful sculptures which retain their diachronic or synchronic histories, or else encompass it all.” They should be looked at as the sum of their parts. (Via Ghost in the Machine)

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Jonathan Monaghan Renders A Utopian Universe Modeled After A Faberge Egg

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For over one hundred years the Faberge egg has been a symbol of wealth, status and beauty. Originally created by Carl Faberge for the Russian Tsars to gift their wives during easter time, its exquisite makeup consisted of the finest jewels, metals and motifs. Its structure depicted scenes of historical and domestic value which the Russian Royal family deemed significant. Over time, these precious objects d’art became unusual records of lavish beauty which consisted of coronation scenes and portraits of kings and queens.

Incorporating the same idea with a modern twist, artist Jonathan Monaghan creates Faberge eggs in a digital format which combine pop culture, human anatomy, luxury items and historical architecture. His vision produces an egg-shaped utopia which comments both conceptually and sociologically on world tradition. Through a kaleidoscopic view of the past, present and future, his narrative breaks down what we deem important and questions our desire for material wealth.  In one piece, the egg is replaced with Starbucks logos instead of jewels. It metaphors the brand we hold near and dear to us today and creates an egg-shaped universe that speaks to the viewer with a utopian ideal that places worth on things opposed to ideas and individuals.
Only fifty of the original Faberge ‘Imperial’ eggs were made and only forty-seven survive. The first Faberge heirloom, known as the Hen Egg was a replica of an actual white egg that disclosed a solid gold yolk inside. This in turn stored a golden hen which further possessed a tiny diamond replica of the Imperial Crown from which a ruby egg pendant hung. Unfortunately, these last two surprises were lost.
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