The photographic studio founded and run by Robert Staudinger and Andreas Franke (based in Vienna) have been experimenting with many different post production techniques for a while. Their recent fascination is with water. Photographing different women just beneath the surface of water, their series Barrier is like a ghostly fairytale. The women seem to either be sinking down into the depths below, postmortem, or in a state of serenity and peace, enjoying a moment of calm. We are not quite sure whether the barrier is a help or a hindrance; something to protect the women or to hurt them. The images capture an intrusive moment, either like watching someone during their final moments of life, or having an intimate bathing experience. Whatever it is, Staudinger and Franke exploit the tension between tranquility and unease; push and pull; immersion and separation.
Playing with the concept of water in the past (The Phantasy Fairytales), Staudinger and Franke seem interested in exploring the quietness and other-worldliness of the substance. By including the element in their images, it changes the mood quite drastically, and in most cases makes it seem more surreal, ethereal and eerie.
Franke has also shot an old shipwreck off the coast of Key West (Vandenberg Project), digitally adding in components later on to complete the shots. Including ballet dancers, kickboxers, a girl holding a butterfly net, a woman hanging out laundry, and a whole lot of other surreal details, Franke became experienced in recreating watery effects on his subjects to blend them in seamlessly, and somewhat believably. To see more of their beautiful skills see here. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”
With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.” This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.
When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”
Serbian photographer Boogie, captures some of the grittiest street scenes that you could imagine. Boogie has been living in New York City since 1998, when, after a stint in the military, he won a green card in a lottery. He has spent several years chronicling the lives of New York’s gangsters, drug addicts and hustlers. From NYC to Belgrade, Boogie has an intimacy with the subject that is rarely seen today. To gain access to what he’s seen is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity.
For the last few years, Japanese artist Jun Kitagawa has installed large zippers in public spaces. Sometimes they are painted on the wall, but more often and impressively, they are placed as sculptures in the middle of rooms and in public ponds. There, the ground looks as though it’s opening up and going to swallow you whole. Kitagawa has fashioned larger-than-life zippers, complete with his name on it (akin to the popular manufacturer YKK). Between the giant zipper’s teeth you can see what’s below, like wooden beams or most of the time, a dark void.
Kitagawa’s work plays into the wonder we have of what lies beneath the surface, and is a metaphor for making light of the unknown. The giant zipper reveals what can’t easily be seen, and what we often wish that we could. Even if the zipper is “open,” many times the artist fills it with nothing, saying that the truth or reality isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. (Via Colossal)
We are really enjoying Nolan Hendrickson’s recent work. They remind me of the dirty side of city life – but through a colorful, and naive window. The bold colors remind me of electrical signs that pollute the city at night. But the style of which Nolan approaches these paintings are so fun and dreamlike that it feels like I am experiencing these environments as a child.
The short film “Transmormon” is the story of Eri Hayward. Born into a Mormon family and assigned male at birth, Eri struggled with her gender identity as early as five years old.
“When I was explained to myself that I was a boy, it was because God had made me that way, which didn’t make a really great relationship, as a five year old, between me and God.”
In many ways, this is what “Transmormon” is really about. Eri and her family describe her struggles growing up in a religious community in Utah where her search for identity included a time believing she was a gay man, and her pain and despair led her to try to cut off her own penis. Her family’s love eventually led to their acceptance of her as female and they supported her trip to Thailand for a sex-change operation. But though her family embraces her as a woman, her religion does not.
According to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Handbook, as a transgender person, Eri cannot get married in the temple or raise children in the faith. Because Eri sought to align her birth-assigned sex and her internal sense of gender identity, she has been marginalized. And yet, her belief in God, so problematic when she was five, has been strengthened even as her religious community has closed to her. This hasn’t caused her to become bitter, though, although she is wistful.
“It’s hurtful to someone who wants to have a relationship with someone but also have a relationship with God and the Church. But, my personal opinion is while it might be nice of them to approach things in a way that is a little more kind, it is their church. You can go find another one. … I looked at my life and I looked at the things that were important to me and I found a way to have family in my life and have a lot of the cultural aspects of my LDS upbringing and still find a way to be happy.” (Source)
“Transmormon” takes a sincere look at gender and belief, God and acceptance, family and faith.