Belgian documentary photographer Alice Smeets has traveled the world and covered everything from war to famine. However her series on Witchcraft has blown me away! This series captures the life and practices of the modern witchcraft practitioner by pulling back the veil on this ancient yet taboo tradition. Smeets says about this project:
“Modern Witchcraft is practiced across Europe, the USA and the rest of the Western World. It is extremely diverse; with beliefs that range widely from polytheism to animism, to pantheism and other paradigms. The largest movements of this self-termed Neo-Paganism are Wicca and Druidism; the followers of which call themselves Witches or Druids, sharing beliefs of Magic, Witchcraft and Nature’s Power. They respect their environment and celebrate eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year where they praise the divinities of nature. They often hold rituals – called Esbats – on the Full Moon. In part, they return to some of the old Celtic traditions.
While Wicca is a very young religion – formed by Gerald Gardner not more than 50 years ago, its roots are much older than Christianity. It has no relationship to Satanism, which is one of many misconceptions held by the public. Ancient pagan beliefs have begun to make their way into the Neo-Pagan community in many ways, making our spiritual path a very deep one, rooted and grounded in the very earth that supports us. From its origins in England it is now widely spread across Europe, America and the rest of the world. At the present time, Neo-Paganism is a large network of small communities with its own organizations, festivals, magazines, shops, workshops, gatherings and ceremonies. Witches can be found everywhere: in the supermarket, in the streets, as well as in our own neighborhood. And you would not know these Witches unless you were told who they were or were one yourself.”
Does an artist’s, like a pro-wrestler’s, value depend on his or her physical mass? Not necessarily; however, Faye Mullen’si am an artist and i weigh physically contextualizes the worth of the artist in a quantiﬁed way with the intention to resurface the question of self worth and the value of the artist’s creative output.
Carol Milne is a Seattle-based artist originally from Canada who has been making beautiful “knitted” objects out of glass. A knitter since she was ten and long fascinated by the sculptural arts, Milne invented an interesting glass-forming technique that combines these two passions. First, she wraps the soft glass around a knitting needle to get the coils, which she then unfurls into “stiches.” After that, she interlocks the stitched pieces together to create the knitted texture. Each sculpture is an experiment in color, resulting in everything from pastel hues to rainbow gradients. Watch this video from Heather DiPietro for a longer description of her process.
Milne has a lot of experience sculpting with other materials (such as bronze casting and metalwork), but she has always been fascinated by glass. As she states in this article by The Creators Project, “[glass] can take on an infinite number of forms and textures. It can show an interior image and an exterior image simultaneously. It’s translucent and transparent. It plays with light. It looks cool when it’s hot” (Source). Exploring the malleability of her medium, the result is a series of endearing and delicate pieces that change the way we see ordinary knitted objects, enlightening us with new forms of everyday beauty.
Thomas Demand meticulously recreates scenes from photographs he finds through mainstream media entirely out of paper. The images are next to indiscernible from the real thing, and complicate the process a step further, the artist destroys his creations and only presents a large-scale photo print of his paper sculptures. Thus the viewer is not allowed to examine the execution, and is left all the more baffled by the precision of his pieces. He never includes people in his work, perhaps for logistical reasons as much as aesthetic, but it gives the photos an eerie quality that was already present in the clean cuts of the paper. No matter his effort to maintain a natural messiness and used quality to the spaces he creates, there is still subtle evidence that something is off, due to the lack of ware on the objects themselves.
Demand also creates animations (see a clip after the jump) using the same paper sculpture technique. His most ambitious production is Pacific Sun. Demand took the footage from a YouTube clip and completely recreated it in paper (editing out the people, of course). The clip is from the security camera on a cruise ship caught in a storm in the South Pacific. The animation tracks hundreds of objects – from tables and chairs to a straw – sliding back and forth across the dining room as the ship pitches in the waves.
Roger Hiorns‘ sculptures and installations are concerned with chemical processes and how these processes affect his materials and forms. I first encountered Hiorns’ work a few years ago when his installation, Seizure, was nominated for a Turner prize in 2009. For this installation, Hiorns filled an entire vacant & demolition-ready ex-London council estate flat with a copper sulphate solution. This created an abundance of bright blue crystals that filled every inch of the space. Visitors to the space had no choice but to crush some of the crystals as they walked through the transformed flat, further altering the construction of the space and his work. Hiorns uses the same copper sulphate solution to transform other objects, but also combines other seemingly disparate materials like ceramic pots with moving foam, metal with fire, steel with perfume, and even glass fiber with brain matter. A crucial component of Hiorns’ work stems from his compulsion to initiate the reaction, but then step back and become an objective viewer of his work as it transforms. Hiorns: “The works are successful if they are self-contained and need nothing else. They exist by their own language.”
Peter Bowen, a London based illustrator, creates detailed works that carry a whole lot of raw energy and humor. A wide range of influences put a hand into his work, as he derives inspiration from lowbrow counter-culture to dense Victorian engravings.
Cape Farewell founder David Buckland involves artists to help bring attention to the usually scientific conversation about global warming. Hoping to appeal to the public on a more emotional level regarding the topic U-n-f-o-l-d, a travelling exhibition, presents the work of twenty-five artists who participated in Cape Farewell expeditions from 2007-2009. Capturing and creating images responding to what they saw and felt while venturing to places like the High Arctic and the Andes, the artists created innovative, independent and collective responses to explore the physical, emotional and political dimensions of our changing environment. Working side by side with scientists on the expeditions artists, writers and musicians, such as Rachel Whiteread, Ian McEwan, Gretel Ehrlich, Vicky Long and Heather Ackroyd sought to find ways to discuss the topic of global warming from an artistically minded point of view.
As Buckland says of the subject: “Climate change is a reality. Caused by us all, it is a cultural, social and economic problem and must move beyond scientific debate. Cape Farewell is committed to the notion that artists can engage the public in this issue, through creative insight and vision. The Arctic is an extraordinary place to visit. It is a place in which to be inspired, a place which urges us to face up to what it is we stand to lose.” -David Buckland, 2007 (from capefarewell.com)
Watch the video here, and read more bout the project here.