A couple from Sweden known as Duo Raw, exploit personas made famous by 80′s club kids. They spin us ’round in custom made duds large enough to fit a team of linebackers, channeling long forgotten diva bands once called Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Dead Or Alive. The reason? World domination. And it might just work if no one’s looking. In case you’re wondering, they perform songs, make clothes and throw parties. Does anyone remember Milli Vanilli? Except today, nobody would even care if someone lip synched to a vocal track. In fact, it would probably be considered karaoke cool and in line with Guitar Hero 3. If I dare say so, neither of these two gentleman seem to know anything about playing an instrument. It’s all about the clothes, hair and makeup. Still, going by gender bender rules, they possess all the elements of a cool gimmick; two men, over six feet tall, in Baby Metal gear performing electro-pop. The two videos out, are further vehicles to Raw’s fabulousness. “Pony” indulges in an array of costume changes, surrounding a sex slave. While “Hunger” spotlights Maja Gullstrand, an accomplished swedish jazz singer, playing a diva. Duo Raw, stand by drooling…on each other. It’s a funny notion when night creatures are brought into the garish light of day. All the wonderful things that are shadowed in camera obscura become weakened by the stark tones of reality. (via Juxtapoz)
KOFTA is the brain child of Kiev based designer Konstantin Kofta. In his collections Hug, Born, Roots, he experiments with leather manipulation to produce surrealistic and elegant garments, accessories and wearable items. His pieces imitate body parts and look like they are extensions of the person wearing them. Including backpacks that mimic torsos, bags with raised vertebrae, straps with hands attached ‘holding’ onto the wearer’s shoulders, and shoes that look like feet, Kofta’s designs are delicately gothic. He describes his inspiration for the Hug collection further:
From birth, we try to stand up and take our first steps. We yearn to touch and be touched and to feel sensations for the first time. We can perceive objects with an unclogged consciousness. Pure perception without comparison. We know nothing other than that which we can see and feel… Spirit does not have form, but some forms can have spirit, vibration does not have a color but color can have vibration, mood does not have a texture, but textures can have a mood. In this collection we focus for the first time more on feelings than just on physical forms and we have created forms, colors and textures according to these sensations… (Source)
Designing with a emphasis on sensuality, Kofta loves to tease out an emotional response to his designs. He combines the unintentional and unexpected to produce durable, unique and wearable pieces of art. Kofta designs with the intention of adding unusual components to a person’s lifestyle, not just their wardrobe, and I would say his pieces achieve a lot more than that.
Japanese designer Fangophilia (Taro Hanabusa) creates edgy silver accessories made from molds of isolated body parts: teeth, ears, cheeks, kneecaps, fingers, and more. Some of his more frequent designs consist of custom-fit fangs and claw-like finger extensions, but his oeuvre also consists of gauntlets and face-plates redolent of medieval armor. Trained in dentistry and fascinated by body modifications, Hanabusa became curious about what would happen if dental molds were used to alter the appearance of the body, and in June 2012 he started his own brand, Fangophilia.
Each silver accessory is molded to an individual’s form. While ears and knees might generally look similar, all have their own anatomical deviations, making Hanabusa’s creations as unique as the bodies they adorn. In a fascinating interview with Tokyo Fashion, Hanabusa discusses the effect of working so closely with his clients and their unique bodies, saying it makes him feel “connected with [his] customers,” more so “than those who only sell their items only through shops.” In this way, he is very much like a tattoo artist or a piercer, consulting his clients directly in the achievement of their desired look.
The aesthetic impact of Fangophilia’s work is dark and powerful. It’s alternative fashion with a vampiric edge. And even though Hanabusa is no longer a dentist, there is something intriguingly “clinical” or “surgical” about his designs: sharp metal is placed in intimate proximity with the skin, creating an effect that wavers between cold sterility and the shining beauty of silver. Furthermore, as the name “Fangophilia” suggests, there is an element of fetish in his work; by accessorizing (or armoring) a specific detail on the body, you bring attention and erotic curiosity to it. Plates of metal on the cheeks, for example, accentuate the sensual curve of a jawline. This allure is not to be taken lightly, however, for like suits of armor, Hanabusa’s designs exude both beauty and tremendous strength.
Fangophilia was in Los Angeles last November, so follow his Facebook page to keep up with his latest work and see where he tours next. His website can be found here. Tokyo Fashion’s article is another great resource, and it provides an exclusive, behind-the-scenes video showing Hanabusa’s shoot for his first lookbook, the photos from which are displayed on this page. (Via Tokyo Fashion)
Don Pablo Pedro’s work flutters on the edge of libido insanity. It embodies grotesquely beautiful scroll paintings featuring twisted hermaphrodites in kama sutra type positions, marked with multiple genitalia. Playing tantric wizard, Pedro takes us for a hedonistic ride through all of his rosy, maladjusted conquests. Along the way, we see fine line work and light acrylic washes on muslin. Muslin is the light cottony material used by designers to fit models before cutting a pattern. Here, the artist uses it to attain a flat surface which compliments his precise drawing ability. It seems appropriate, as the artist’s work is easily suited to T-shirts and canvas bags. It holds a pop element near, yet references the old religions of Hinduism and Buddhism.The narrative, taken directly from multi-armed Kali, the Hindu goddess associated with empowerment, shows work that is happily consumed with variations of her likeness. Substituting arms for male and female genitalia, the appendages pile on top one another turning into “third eyes” and “fourth arms”. Newer studies, concentrate on multiple partners more than parts. Also portrayed in hedonistic positions, subjects mimicking, love, lust, faith, and dreams materialize. Comparisons to Surrealism, Japanese scroll work and comic books have been made. There is a Crumb association, but Pedro goes to further lengths. He takes the psychedelic yogi route, opting for freak show characters instead of urban myths. His mysterious subject matter holding true to the power of sexual desire.
Southern California, thanks to its diverse landscape, has always enjoyed a wide variety of musical genres. Los Angeles in the 1980’s saw a kaleidoscope of tunes, and different beach communities, the Valley, South Central, the Inland Empire and East LA each had its own form of local music. Plus, since the late 60’s, a growing number of major record labels had/were setting up their headquarters there. Coupled with an abundance of clubs, Los Angeles become the epicenter of the music industry.
So, not surprisingly, major rock groups did very well in Los Angeles – devoted fans packed their venues. While the alternative scene got less coverage, the free press such as L.A. Weekly, the L.A. Reader, BAM, Rock City News, and Music Connection provided the recaps and nightly gigs around the town.
The Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL) culled from their Herald Examiner photo archive and worked with the Gary Leonard Collection, LAPL and Photo Friends to present From Pop to the Pit: LAPL Photo Collection Celebrates the Los Angeles Music Scene, 1978-1989. The images show the diversity of the decade as well as the different groups who had hit singles, infamous moments, and thrilled countless fans.
If you’re local to Los Angeles, stop by and see the exhibition at the LAPL History & Genealogy Department from January 8 to June 28, 2015. In addition, there’s a companion catalog available for purchase on Amazon.
Luis Lorenzana is a Filipino artist who uses surrealist painting and sculpture to tease and reflect upon the state of consumerism and technology in the present-day world. His style is decidedly “lowbrow” — it is playful, and rich with satire and humor — but his works involve explorations of elitist cultural trends and re-interpretations of classical, “highbrow” art. This particular series is called instanity, a combination of “instant” and “insanity,” which reflects the idea of material excess and immediate gratification: we need to have everything, and we need to have it now. The fact that Lorenzana bends artistic temporalities (by painting Angry Birds into a classical landscape, for example) further shows an insane desire to compress time and space into one material instance — even the result is a little bit strange.
The characters in Lorenzana’s paintings are intentionally ugly. His painting of the Venus — recalling of course, Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus — is portrayed with an over-sized head and asymmetrical breasts, unsettling her status as a venerated artistic figure. Lorenzana’s sports-car-driving characters are likewise strange and hyperbolic, with their striped suits, cigarettes, stacked mustaches, and cavalier attitudes, all of which denote a level of excess and materiality that has turned into madness and ludicrousness. These unpleasant representations of culture poke fun at our own “instanity,” and, more generally, at the sheer monetary/aesthetic value and elitism often associated with fine art.
When Elana Pritchard was sent to the women’s division of the Los Angeles County jail for two months in July 2014, she decided to document her experience using only the paper available to her and a golf pencil. She witnessed strange, horrific, even threatening situations, but was able to turn the time into something productive and enlightening for her readers. Even right from the first moment on the bus from the court hearing to the jail, she observed some unbelievable things.
I saw some ugly things on that bus: prostitution, nudity, profanity. A group of male prisoners ganged up on me and thought they could pressure me to show them my breasts — in exchange for crystal meth. I tried telling them to mind their manners, but it didn’t work. I just had to sit there and wait for it to be over. Even though they were all in handcuffs and blocked off by a barrier, they still succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure if the guards knew what went on in the back of the bus, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t care. (Source)
Subjected to a squat and cough every time upon re-entering the jail, along with 40 other people in the room, Pritchard fast learned to forget about any sort of dignity. Humiliation and verbal abuse were everyday occurrences for the inmates. Hygiene standards were questionable, and the ladies were supplied with used underwear to put on each week.
Every jail has it’s myths and legends, and Pritchard does a good job of accurately confirming or dismissing even the most outrageous ones. Read more about her experience and see more drawings here. (Via LA Weekly)
Traveling all over the world, street artist No Touching Ground wheat pastes compelling imagery amidst various cities architecture that adds depth to the context of our time and place. Recently, in Greece, he posted work concerning their social political climate under the title “Ingredients Of An Uprising”. In one of them, an Axe body spray bottle, re-worked to say “Anarchy for Him” floats over other graffiti on a busy street.
No Touching Ground creates a nearly optical illusion as his work is so photorealistic that it blends into its surroundings in an uncanny way. He began by working around images of animals from the wild, and people dressed up like animals. His work has since become more political, ranging from symbolic elements indicative of social tensions, to portraits and quotes of protestors met at a demonstration. In Seattle he voiced many of the emotions surrounding the tragic death of John T. Williams at the hand of a Seattle police officer. His work is aesthetically lush and important for our social consciousness.
A rather mysterious artist, No Touching Ground has work all over the world. Alaska, Seattle, South America, Europe, and now Greece, there is no saying where his work will show up next.