French photographer Eric Lafforgue has dedicated his craft to documenting various cultures around the world, from Panama to North Korea and beyond. In this particular series, titled “Scarifications Ethiopiennes,” Lafforgue provides a close-up view on the scarification practices of Ethiopia’s Omo Valley tribes, including the Bodi, Suri, and Mursi peoples. Lafforgue traveled throughout the region, visiting the locals and observing their cutting ceremonies. In stunning detail, Lafforgue provides images of the scars—both healed and in process—as well as ethnographic descriptions and insights into the scars’ social and ritualistic purposes.
Among these peoples, scarification plays an important role in tribal life. Patterned lines and dots are embedded into the skin using thorns and razors—a process that one of his photographic subjects, a teenage girl, confesses to being very painful. But enduring the pain holds several social significances: the Suri people see it as a sign that the participant will be able to endure childbirth, while the Mursi embrace it as a mark of beauty and strength (Source). While some urban Ethiopians view scarification as a sign of “primitivism,” for many it remains a valuable signifier of cultural belonging.
Lafforgue’s oeuvre is impressive, spanning the globe several times over. His works can be viewed on his website and Facebook page.
For those of you in Chicago, and fans of Austin Eddy and Howard Fonda’s works, they’ll be having a two person exhibition at Hungry Man gallery, opening next month on May 15th. Check out a couple of their works after the jump.
Falk Gernegross’s paintings are executed in the style of Magic Realism, calling forth the likes of such great artists as George Tooker, Alex Colville and Tony Phillips. His figures are often depicted nude with bodies that are polished and sculpted like marble. Soft, contrasted shadows envelop his subjects against a simple, bright hue of color; other times the painting’s surroundings are full of wooded forests, sunny beaches, and lakes. His work is painted in a way that is flat yet realistic, and projects a fluid exchange of feelings that range between awkwardness and eroticism.
Stockholm, Sweden based artist Joakim Ojanen works in mediums as diverse as sculpture and zines. His paintings, however, particularly standout. Familiar snippets of cartoon characters, body parts, and shapes congeal as a hallucinatory mass. Normally lighthearted characters appear to be in a paranoid panic or a manic giddiness. Eyeballs peek from oddly placed holes or simply roll on the ground. Ojanen’s portraits don’t seem to depict monsters as much as characters mutated by abstraction.
Brooklyn based artist Brian Willmont has been featured here in the past. His striking gouache and ink works commonly feature colorful cacti and Old West imagery set against a pitch black background. His newest body of work consists of fragmented artifacts scattered across opaque geometric planes. Within these voids Willmont presents an alternate history. Items of antiquity are left frozen in time for the viewer to dissect.
This documentary features the story of self-made curators Herbert and Dorothy Vogel, a couple who began collecting works of unknown artists in the early 60s, crowding their little one bedroom apartment with tiny artworks by following two rules: 1. affordable, 2. small enough to fit in their apartment. The collection developed into one of the most important contemporary compilations – many of the amateurs they befriended in their early years continued on to become world renowned artists. Today, the collection is worth millions of dollars, but the couple has yet to sell a single piece. Their apartment got so packed, Dorothy reminisced, “Not even a toothpick could be squeezed in.” The couple donated a great part of their collection to the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The Vogels still live in the same little apartment, and have restarted their collection again. “Curatorial visionaries,” they started their collection on meager means, Herbert a postal clerk and Dorothy a librarian; even with the rising fame of their collection, the two have maintained a humble lifestyle, sharing their space with fresh art, 19 turtles, fish, and a cat!
Polish fashion photographer, Sylwia Makris, creates photographs that juxtapose an academic portrait aesthetic with a steampunk sensibility. Sylwia’s work resembles dark and dreamlike worlds where bodily expressions, makeup, clothes and the environment itself come together to tell a unique story full of charm and mystery.
Makris’ recent body of work, a series of portraits that resemble the dark and the beautiful, serve as an artful glimpse on our current fashion aesthetic condition- in Makris’ terms, of course. It primarily features pale-white women and men encapsulated in a black background in steampunk formalwear; many are tattooed or pierced, if not wearing dark makeup. The models wear extravagant headpieces that pile up on top of their head like the headdress of wild mythical creatures. She photographs people that are strong or delicate, broken or dynamic. She photographs the faces of our time-and in doing so, she gives a face to our time in her own terms.
The dramatic lighting and over-the-top costumes are not what we deem real, however. Perhaps, what is real, in this case, is Makris’ faith in the strength of an expressive and strong appearance and personality; a belief that through her gothic, steampunk characters, she illustrates very clearly. The intensity and confidence that exudes from her subjects is not to be missed and certainly not to be disbelieved.
In the Mexican city of Monterrey, where the over development of newly built suburbs affect peoples daily lives and customs, there is a large bridge spanning Highway 85. On that bridge Alejandro Cartagena pointed his camera down at the morning traffic. He was seeking and peeking into the backs of open trucks, where construction workers often pile together on their way to earn a living. Like commuters everywhere, they sleep, eat, read and talk on their way to work. Often they look up, and maybe they notice someone taking their picture.
The shape of the tall, narrow pictures mimics a long stretch of highway, and conjures up the journey’s forward motion. Lined up in rows, each pictures a different vehicle, a different load of human cargo, and truck after truck; they suggest the relentless drive to stay alive.