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Book 1: Supernaturalism Available

We just put up 50 copies of Beautiful/Decay Book:1 Supernaturalism on our online shop. We have a limited supply of these available for our shop so if you didn’t subscribe this will be one of the only ways to get the book. Enjoy!

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Shelly Mosman’s Intensely Personal Portraits

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The strength of the portraiture tradition, and what separates it from documentary photography, lies in the skill of the photographer to attach meaning and the essence of the person in a simple image. Using metaphor, subtlety, and open-ended but vaguely familiar narrative, photographer Shelly Mosman is able to imbue an intensely personal and soft-spoken beauty to her photographs. Drawn to subjects for reasons she says she often cannot immediately describe, Mosman spends a great deal of time with her subjects, waiting for key moments when their personality is revealed through action, or the subtlest of looks or gestures. “Portraiture relies on the smallest mannerisms and expressions to offer narrative,” says Mosman, “I rely on the spontaneity of circumstance.” 

The Minneapolis-based portraitist continues:

“In my photographs I negotiate and characterize the balance between my own vision and the unknown and often powerful potential given by each portrait’s subject. I am drawn to certain people for the simple reason that I know shooting them will give me an image I could never have created on my own, and because my camera can reveal something they may not have known was in themselves.  It becomes a synthesis of us both, captured in a single photograph. These connections with each subject are often too straightforward and immediate to be conscious, but rather they are something that is felt immediately, coming straight from the gut, which is the home of our instincts.”

Mosman is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for an upcoming exhibition titled Mercury. The show will feature new black and white works, printed with a long-standing (though rarely used) silver gelatin contact technique, overseen by a master printer. They will then be framed in a specially designed cast resin frames, the results of a collaboration with two sculptors. For more information or to donate, click here.

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A New Library For Birmingham, England Is Not Just A Building But A Work Of Art

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Birmingham Library work of art

Birmingham Library work of art

Earlier this month Birmingham, England opened its grand new library in the city center.  The city hopes that the impressive metal-clad work of art, which cost around $295 million to build, will become a key element in redefining Birmingham’s image.  Currently the largest public library in the UK, and the largest public cultural space in Europe, the library is certainly hard to miss.  Mecanoo with engineers, Buro Happold, were enlisted in 2008 as the designers behind the project after winning an international competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects.  Mecanoo designed the exterior of the building, with its filigree pattern of metal rings over gold and silver glass facades, to reference the city’s artisan tradition.

Speaking at the opening was Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who the Taliban shot for campaigning for women’s right to education.  Now residing in Birmingham Yousafzai stated that “Let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one teacher can change the world.”  In the first eight days of being open the library surpassed 100,000 visitors.

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Maggie West Captures The Tenderness And Eroticism Of Kissing

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Kissing is an act of intimacy that has been iconically portrayed throughout art history — take the sculptural power of Auguste Rodin’s The Kiss, for example, or Gustav Klimt’s own interpretation of the erotic gesture at the dawn of modernism. Fast forward over a century later, and photographer Maggie West has revisited this tradition with her own contemporary style. Described as “dreamy” and “hallucinatory,” West’s debut book KISS is a sensual photo diary of LA-based artists. Dripping in a haze of neon eroticism, the gentle lovers in West’s photos embrace and engage each other with intense intimacy. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, West explains the concept and creation of KISS:

By placing a common activity in such a dreamlike setting, I wanted the readers to reexamine the energy and intimacy taking place each time a couple embraces each other. Through the color choices and extreme close up angles, I hope that the viewer can appreciate specific aspects of a kiss that they may not have otherwise noticed.

[…]  One of the objectives of the book was to examine the dynamic between a variety of relationships — not just established couples.  Some couples had been dating for years, some were just friends, some barely knew each other, etc.

Initially everyone, no matter their relationship, was a little nervous.  However, kissing is such a physical act that within a few minutes the models were so engrossed in each other that they seemed to forget they were being photographed.

Most of the models were chosen from among West’s friends who she knew in the LA community — “models, musicians, artists, porn stars, dancers” and more make up the group. Portraying the kiss as an act that knows no distinctions of identity or lifestyle preferences, KISS features a variety of ethnicities and sexualities, celebrating diversity and the fluid nature of attraction, desire, and love. “The kiss is a beautiful exchange regardless of the relationship,” West writes. And this is what KISS allows us to focus on: the gentleness of the moment, the tantalizing hesitation, and the oscillation of desiring energy and tenderness that makes kissing one of the most powerful ways to connect both flesh and heart.

KISS features a foreward by artist and journalist Hannah Stouffer. The launch party for the book is taking place on the rooftop of The Ace Hotel in Los Angeles on June 14th at 8pm. Visit West’s website, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to view more of her work. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Jon Smith’s Multi-Textured Explosive Light Bulb Photography

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A chemist by trade, Jon Smith‘s high speed photography captures exploding light bulbs. He first fills the bulbs with various textural elements, such as feathers, sand, candy, dust, and paint. He then sometimes dips the light bulbs into paint before shooting them with a pellet gun and capturing the results. Smith’s method creates photographs that are rich in texture, color, and movement. Back in March, Smith told Flickr “People see and use light bulbs every day. They’re something we don’t pay attention to…by shooting them, having them explode and filling them with different materials creates an interesting juxtaposition that I’m really drawn to.” Known on Flickr as WideEyedIlluminations, you can read more about Smith’s light bulb photography over at Flickr’s blog where he is also featured in a video discussing how photography saved his life.

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Olafur Eliasson’s Your Rainbow Panorama

Olafur Eliasson’s  dazzling “Your Rainbow Panorama” is a permanent installation on the rooftop of the ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark.  The spectacular work of art has a diameter of 52 metres and is mounted on slender columns 3.5 metres above the roof  of the museum. Visitors can literally walk through the entire color spectrum viewing the world for the first time in all pink, green, blue and yellow tones.

“Your rainbow panorama enters into a dialogue with the existing architecture and reinforces what is assured beforehand, that is to say the view of the city. I have created a space which virtually erases the boundaries between inside and outside – where people become a little uncertain as to whether they have stepped into a work or into part of the museum. This uncertainty is important to me, as it encourages people to think and sense beyond the limits within which they are accustomed to moving”. -Olafur Eliasson (via gaks)

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Citrus Report Features

Beautiful/Decay Interview on The Citrus Report

Evan La Ruffa did a nice interview with me about the past, present, and future of Beautiful/Decay on The Citrus Report. Thanks Evan!

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Roberto Foddai Turns The Camera On Himself In His Dramatic, Erotic, And Comedic Self-Portraits

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It is the age of the selfie, and yet Roberto Foddai’s self-portraits feel like anything but. His images range from dramatic, erotic snapshots to costumed and posed portraits. The Photoshop manipulations he executes, notably in the “make it double!” series, are both subtle and transformative. He merges pictures of himself into the same frame, doubling the impact. Two Robertos laughing together, two lying on the same bed, and, memorably, one pleasuring his “other” self. The effects are transparent and the narrative in the pictures exists outside of their computerized genesis.

Why the costumes, the playacting and grimacing? Why two Robertos in the frame? He answers:

1. I like to be other people as I am often bored of myself.

2. It is easier to be boring in my daily life and dressing up in photographs fills the need I often have to be different.

3. I think, as Feminist and writer Carol Hanish said “The Personal is Political” so it is me in the pictures but they are often a political statement and maybe not as personal as they look.

We see Roberto Foddai as Freida Pinto. Roberto Foddai as a pink gowned ingénue. Wearing a necklace of shuttlecocks. In a swim cap, a nightgown. In underwear and red socks. Cindy Sherman’s self-portraits in disguise are called to mind, but unlike Sherman, Foddai makes very little effort to camouflage himself completely.

I always liked the idea of documenting my own life for myself. Keeping a visual diary of my life also gave me other ideas or other subjects I could work on. This is clearly a work in progress and without any doubt one of my favourite parts of my work. I often struggle with the way I look but it helps me to look at my life in a more objective way.

In many of these self-portraits Foddai is not conventionally attractive. Sweaty, with decayed looking teeth, and testicles poking through his underwear, these images are raw and unadorned. And it’s that truth in the images, in the portraits, that makes it difficult to look away.

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