Jehad Nga’s photographs of Somali and Kenyan café patrons offer a rare and personal look at those ravaged by years of drought and poverty. Using only a single ray of sun beaming through the café doorway, Nga’s photographs highlight the individuals themselves by naturally removing them from their surroundings. The hardened and weathered faces of the old are revealed, in contrast with the fear, but glimmer of hope found in the eyes of the young.
Teodora Axente is associated with the Cluj School, a group of Romanian artists making work after the 1989 Revolution, which ended Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime.
There is a dark sense of carousing in her work which examines the question of boredom in a secular world. Left to his or her own devices, Axente’s adult figures conjure up spirits or flights of whimsy in seemingly childlike ways, often seeking solace in shiny and tactile objects such as tinfoil, plastic wrap, or furs. However, translated to a non-secular world, each stroke Axente makes seem satirical or political, consciously examining religion or capitalism.
According to the artist, this dichotomy is the exact intention: “One of my concepts is to transform a real fact into a game . . . It is all about play from my perspective, the playfulness is more than a world of novelty in which everything happens and is reconstituted because of the freedom to act, to think.”
Olaf Breuning‘s The Art Freaks, is a group of color photographs transposing the signature styles of seminal 20th-century artists into prosaic body painting. If the manners in which Breuning’s subjects have been painted are not immediately identifiable, then titles like Andy, Frieda, and Piet confirm their references. Stemming from the artist’s recent investigation into his idiosyncratic relationship with modern and contemporary art, the larger than life-sized prints of elaborately painted bodies, which comprise The Art Freaks, conflate the tropes of so-called high and low artistic techniques as they discuss notions of kitsch, cliché, and reproduction.
As Breuning humorously attempts to imitate Takashi Murakami’s character Kiki (Takashi ) or the mounting release of Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893) in Edvard (2011), he also mimics street performers who paint their bodies to transform into unique characters for the amusement, and pocket money, of passers-by; a tantamount treatment of craft, medium, and cultural signifiers that pervades Breuning’s multifarious oeuvre. Whether through his drawings, sculptures, or well-known website, the specific brand of pastiche Breuning employs in his work is a decidedly indiscriminate one that draws on everything from the Easter Bunny to Andy Warhol’s Marilyns.
Both humorous and uncanny, The Art Freaks not only questions our relationship to the enduring artworks Breuning choses to reference in his series, but also to the reproductions and consumable patina through which most of us experience these artists’ works and their distinctive aesthetics. (via davids sketchbook)
If you want to see more work by Olaf Breuning we recommend Beautiful/Decay Magazine Issue: Y which includes a very nice feature on the artist.
Artist Lauren Tickle uses an unconventional material for her accessories: US currency. Titled Increasing Value, the objects are made out of bills, silver, latex, and more, formed into intricate pieces that you can actually wear. Tickle has her Master’s degree in jewelry, and the exquisite works don’t immediately strike the viewer as being composed of currency. Instead, the designs take advantage of the bold flourishes we see on money and the green lines appear as a pattern rather than a past president’s face.
Tickle writes about the conceptual meaning behind her work, which is titled based on how much currency was used in its creation.
My work is an experiment in the concepts of value and adornment. The Values Exploration process takes currency of defined value, distills it to graphic elements, then resynthesizes an object of much greater value. How and why are these notes distanced from their face value? Idea, concept, process, and labor create value. Is this new, finished form a microcosm of industrial production? or a parody?
I force wearers and observers to reflect on the concept of adornment in our society. One of the most conscious actions humans undertake is the decision of what to wear or not. My work takes underlying materialism and makes it explicit, imploring evaluation from all sides in each social context. (via Escape Kit)
Artist Stefanie Herr’s topographic artworks are inspired by maps. When traveling, she writes, they facilitate navigation and orientation, and drawings by cartographers are the starting point of her work. To create her sculptures, images are printed on photographic paper, mounted on matboard, hand cut into tiny pieces and assembled. They resemble maps that show changes in elevation once completed. But, instead of rivers, plains, and mountains, Herr features faces of people.
She calls these pieces experiments on landscapes models that merge photography and sculpture. They often take weeks to complete. In an artist statement, Herr writes:
Photography abandons the two-dimensional plane and sets out to conquer the space. In search of suitable maps, however, I do not only focus on the shape of the terrain, but also on place names. As toponyms can inspire strong images or even stories, they often interfere in the development of my projects. When shooting photos, I mainly choose top, side and front view representations – I particularly like making use of “aerial” views on a scale of 1:1.
In addition to this inspiration, Herr is also concerned about environmental degradation and rapid loss of biodiversity. She further explains:
Unique natural heritage is gradually being depleted or replaced for the mere purpose of economic growth, and it seems that we have completely forgotten about the aesthetic values of landscape. As a world citizen, I am concerned about contemporary landscape change and the prevailing landscape perception. Topographic Fine Art mainly deals with these issues and, even though on a reduced scale, attempts to capture some of the natural beauty that surrounds us. (Via Lustik)
Lee Gainer attempts to question what we all constantly question ourselves, and that is true beauty. What is true beauty? Are they the faces we are asked to notice on billboards, TV, postcards, magazines, etc? Is it something we can buy and physically manipulate ourselves for? In her series, Frankenlovely, Lee Gainer asks us to observe the faces that have been advertised as “true beauty,” and reflect.
Matt Root combines old star atlases with religious and cultural icons, presenting them as shrines or monuments. Through these images he asks questions of identity and ownership within the American landscape. Currently Matt has been focused on objects that symbolize the cultural conflicts of life on the US/Mexico border and Arizona’s tenuous relationship with reality.
Swiss Origami artist Sipho Mabona creates a full-scale white elephant by using a single sheet of paper. By using one slice of white paper measuring 15 by 15 meters (50 by 50 feet), the skilled artist was able to craft up this grand ‘white elephant’, which stands more than 3 meters (10 feet) tall.
The project, apart from being living-proof of outstanding talent, was also treated as a performance; this live video [posted here] shows Mabona doing what he does best. As we intently watch it, we see a slow progression, a focused Mabona, and a paper-elephant slowly taking shape. “There is no limit in origami”, says Mabona.
Mabona financed the project through Indiegogo, the Internet-crowdfunding platform. He raised over $26,000 from 631 funders. In order to share with the donors, a webcam was installed where Mabona worked. The artist ran into some major challenges like figuring out how to spread a huge sheet of paper, measuring 15 meters by 15 meters (or 50 by 50 feet), in a hall, to transform the sheet of paper into the body of an elephant. There were moments during the folding process wherehe had to get the help of up to ten people to lift and fold the paper. (via My Modern Met)