The Fallen, an installation by two British artists [Jamie Warley and Andy Moss], entails striking silhouettes of fallen soldiers on Arromanches beach in Normandy. The project is a tribute to the civilians, German forces, and Allies who lost their lives during the Operation Neptune landing on June 6, 1944 on Normandy Beach.
The artists, together with a team of volunteers, traveled to the site in order to create the silhouettes, which were individually drawn into the sand with pre-prepared stencils.
After the completion of about 9,000 imprints, the shapes were then left to wash away by the beach waves; a poetic visual composition that reminds us that life is temporary.
“The idea is to create a visual representation of what is otherwise unimaginable, the thousands of human lives lost during the hours of the tide during the Second World War Normandy landings. People understand that so many lives were lost that day but it’s incredibly difficult to picture that number.”
Veterans and families, including some who have lost loved ones in recent conflicts were involved in the ‘Fallen’ project. (Via DailyMail Online)
John Grade’s Capacitor is a site-specific installation which reacts to the climate of the site it inhabits. Located within the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, this enormous coil is roughly 40′ x 20′ x 20′ and slowly reacts to the changing wind directions and temperatures of the outside environment. Physically behaving according to statistics collected outside the institution, a mechanized controller within the installation powers the enormous coil’s shape. According to Grade, “the whole of the sculpture will appear to be very slowly breathing”. Capacitor also changes the brightness of the lights within the construct, giving an entire reaction to outside elements. (contemporist and artist’s site)
Many contemporary artists incorporate materials traditionally associated with craft into their art practice. Craft, often segregated from the high art world, is used to describe a pastime or profession that requires skill and concentration. Fine artists involve styles such as knitting, crocheting, beading, ceramics and many others practices to create their works. The effects of using these generally intricate and time-consuming techniques are impressive as works by these five artists demonstrate.
Shane Waltener was trained as a sculptor and now makes beautiful and haunting installations using yarn. Many of his works are engaging and beg a viewer’s participation. Over Here, which mimics a giant spider web, references a technique called Shetland lace and is made of fishing line. Sherry Markovitz is a Seattle-based artist who incorporates buttons, feathers, fake pearls, shells, sequins, seed beads and other items to animal heads or dolls. Markovitz says that she “was never influenced by the contemporary art world,” and indeed, her works created from hours of labor and scouring flea markets for material feel as though they walked out of another place and time. Elaine Bradford uses crochet to create otherworldly sculptures. Her installation at the Vinson Branch of the Houston Public Library, for instance, consists of an elephant and a gaggle of Canadian geese, all sheathed in crochet skins. The work is fun and playful, but also sophisticated and clever. Orly Genger, most recently known for covering Madison Square Park in New York with a massive installation consisting of 1.4 million feet of layered, painted and hand-knotted rope last summer, is an artist who employs traditionally “feminine” activities to works that reference artists like Barnett Newman. She titled her Madison Square Park installation after his Who’s Afraid of the Red, Yellow and Blue? series from the 1960s. Edith Meusnier is a French textile and environmental artist who transforms nature into installation spaces. She uses craft installations to raise questions about sustainability and the vulnerability of nature.
Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.
Spine against spine.
On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.
The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.
This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.
The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.
Spanish artist Iván Prieto‘s sculpture work is surreal and sometimes a bit disturbing. In order to heighten the jarring effect of his creations, Prieto places some of his work in abandoned places, creating a narrative that lends his work (and the places they inhabit) a haunting presence. His sculptures are largely figurative, and feature bodies that are warped or grotesque, speaking to ideas of excess and deficiency. Even when he’s not using empty spaces to feature his work, his gallery installations are just as provocative and strange. Prieto’s talent for sculpting fascinating figurative shapes and contortions and then contextualizing them within spaces indicates an awareness of an overall composition of his creations, something not all sculptors think about when featuring their work. (via slow art day)
English photographer Carl Warner creates realistic landscapes that are made out of food. As an experienced landscape photographer, Warner puts his talents to work in order to reinvent the conventional type. The ‘Foodscapes’ are created in Carl’s London studio where he crafts out each and every little detail (all components completely made out of food) through intricate and laborious steps. The scenes are photographed in layers from foreground to background. The food products used tend to wither quite quickly under the beaming lights, this might take each landscape even more time to get finished.
He first starts off with a set of drawings; he lines up the model-drawings that he would like to work with, and from those he picks the one that will be worked on.
Warner has a team of food stylists and other artists that help him with the process.
“ Although I’m very hands on with my work, I do use model makers and food stylists to help me create the sets. I tend to start with a drawing which I sketch out in order to get the composition worked out, this acts as a blue print for the team to work to.”
Text phrases, words and letters abound in contemporary art, ranging widely from direct witty phrases to text that has become illegible in its adaptation. With increased crossover between different fields of art, the craft of editing text in literary arts is a skill and practice that has been incorporated into the visual arts more frequently. Jenny Holzer is an artist who comes to mind in this regard.
However, in this article I am examining the other polarity of text in art. As an artist who regularly uses text in my own art work, I am always interested in discovering the ways in which other artists step beyond the all too prevalent witty-one-liner on the wall into an artistic language that is far more expansive and uniquely cultivated. The artists included here demonstrate the beautiful grey area that emerges between abstract painting, graffiti, constructivist painting and the written word, to name a few. Here text becomes a vehicle for additional forms of communication, used as a foundation to expand upon with the artist’s particular vision or agenda.
Wendy White, Feodor Voronov, Glenn Ligon, Annie Vought, Jose Parla and Jel Martinez are all artists whose work takes text and language and pushes way outside the box. Wendy White’s use of the lines and structure of letters themselves is deconstructed and echoed in lines that emerge within her abstracted and color washed work. In the images of her work shared here, I particularly love the way in which she goes beyond the canvas in architecturally reconstructing the text-like elements along the border.
In 2013, conceptual artist Lenka Clayton created the “One Brown Shoe” project, in which she instructed participants to make a single brown shoe using materials found in their homes. The participants were 100 married couples that spanned 12 countries. They were asked to not discuss the project with their partners, and to construct their shoes in secret. Once each person completed their brown shoe, they could then share it with their spouse.
The type of shoes and materials used runs the gamut. Brown shoes were made from packing tape, knitting, animal crackers, corks, teddy bears, and much more. Materials were both conventional and innovative. One artist, for instance, made a stiletto heel from a nail. Another made use of a nest and quail egg. Some people used actual shoes, which seems like cheating (it isn’t). Despite living in the same household, no couple used the exact same supplies. Size of shoe was also noticeable; Some of them were meant for giants, while other babies.
In writing about the project, Clayton muses, “…each pair of shoes might be seen as a portrait – of two individuals, of one couple, and of the difference between the two.” It shows the artistic differences between the pair, as well as their individual ingenuity and knowledge of materials.
The fact that the shoe-making was in secret was the key to making this project successful. If they hadn’t, I don’t think these shoes would be as interesting. They might look forced, like they were trying (or not trying) to replicate their partner. One Brown Shoe allowed the participants to create freely without criticism. The eventual reveal of the two shoes, which are often very different from one another, is both amusing and telling. When left to their own devices, it’s fascinating to see how two people who share a life together would create something that is so alike or so different. (Via Junk Culture)