Toronto-based artist TALWST creates works in a miniaturized scale. The tiny sculptures are constructed in reclaimed ring boxes and feature landscapes that are inspired by current events, dreams, and icons in pop culture. TALWST’s details are incredible, and it’s only after careful inspection that you see every fleck of paint, particle of moss, and patterns drawn on clothing. The artist also paints the top inside of the boxes and creates a small yet all-encompassing world.
While the attention to detail is one reason to intensify your gaze, the other is the subject matter. TALWST is timely, and although some scenes might conjure the past (their backdrops, especially, look like old paintings) the artist portrays contemporary issues such as Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s deaths. These miniatures his prototypes for creating responsive, diversified and inclusive history, unlike we have now. “The work’s small scale allows me the opportunity for a very particular kind of meditation,” TALWST explains. (Via Skumar’s and Junk Culture)
When you think of a someone who’s a “crazy cat person” you might imagine them to live in shambles overrun by felines. In Andréanne Lupien’s series Crazy Cat Lovers, however, that’s not the case. Her amusing photos feature people in their otherwise tidy homes, yet surrounded by their cats duplicated many, many times.
These images celebrate her love of felines, and the initial inspiration was her own cat. Lupien tells us, “I had fun taking pictures of myself with my cat, putting it around me in the room so that the final picture would result in my cat being multiple times in the photography doing multiple actions. That was it!”
Crazy Cat Lovers makes light of the cat phenomena. With their Internet presence like videos, GIFs, and photos, felines become more and more popular. “This was my opportunity to fully talk about it.” Lupien says. “To create the photos, I would take my photography kit, put it in my bag and leave to explore the world of some crazy cat lovers. It was a great adventure! I would visit unknown people or I would go to a friends house. It was always a new universe to discover. Every picture had its own essence and energy, its own universe. It was like visiting a person’s unique world.” (Via Yahoo News Tumblr)
New York-based photographer Mario Zanaria started taking pictures when he was 12 years old and hasn’t stopped since. His work focuses on people, and his series Pianosequenza “a[n] homage to the contact sheet.” In it, one single image is composed over the course of one of these sheets. It’s fractured but coherent, and each assemblage reveals an alluring scene. Pianosequenza is an Italian word in cinema that translates to “long take” in English. “The idea,” Zanaria writes, “is to turn a part of a movie in one only single take, without cuts or re-plays of a scene. If everything is good in the scene than it can be taken, otherwise it will have to be taken again from the beginning.” He’s fascinated by the contact sheet, and says:
I like how they can tell stories that most often only the photographer knows. They have a very interesting double identity: an intimate relationship with the photographer, in which they are fundamental in the process of choosing the pictures that will survive the editing process, and a nearly non existent one with the public who will see the photographer work mostly only after the selection has taken place.
Zanaria’s series allow the contact sheets to be “the main and essential actor.” Without them, the image is not complete. (Via Blu)
“The Sentinel” (2012). Graphite on paper, 65″ x 80″.
“I Will Still Be Here, Long After the Kingdom Cometh” (2012). 68″ x 96″.
“Desdemona Sleeping Beside Death” (2009). Graphite on paper, 66″ x 70″.
“Ophelia at Fourteen” (2008). Graphite on paper, 72″ x 80″.
Christina Pettersson is a Florida-based (Stockholm-born) artist who draws on mythology and classic literature in the creation of large-scale graphite works that depict scenes of tragedy, savagery, and beauty. With realistic shading and elaborate textures, the images have a narrative-rich and highly expressive style that is reminiscent of historical paintings. Fascinated by the role such ancient, emotional, and metaphorical stories have on contemporary culture, Pettersson writes:
“I want to restore that epic and mythological dimension, a sense of awe and reverence for the world. The fact is they are not much about my personality. I want to be a storyteller. I want to believe that life is still wild” (Source).
Central to Pettersson’s illustrations are references to classical female figures, including the huntress/protector Artemis and Shakespeare’s Ophelia. Most of the images are dark in their imagery and/or atmosphere: Artemis, holding her bow, confronts the viewer with a fatally impassive expression; Ophelia, still awake, sinks into an oceanic abyss; while other women, unnamed, lie slain and bloodied. What Pettersson seems to be exploring (and critiquing) is the female body-as-sacrifice in such mythological traditions. These women — whose deaths are often treated as incidental plot-devices or metaphors in otherwise male-centered narratives — are given representation that mourns the tragedy of their deaths, and in many cases, signifies a liberating rebirth. Desdemona, for example, murdered in her bed, lies beside her peacefully-sleeping resurrected self; Ophelia, submerged in water, remains conscious while a ship — a symbolic “lifeboat” — turns her way. In a beautiful poem accompanying the latter image, Pettersson explains how she seeks to reclaim Ophelia from Shakespeare’s lethal sentence:
We are accustomed to your cruel pen,
the way it marks a creature for death, death only,
but this is too much.
The business of death is the subject of Genevieve Blais’ photo essay Funeral. In the series Blais looks at how consumerism dominates our lives even after life. Using a mechanical almost step by step process she captures the funerary procedure from start to finish through an itemized set of rules. In catalog fashion she shows what is needed to accomplish the final step of life; flowers, caskets, makeup, embalming machine, credit cards and waiting room. The photos themselves look dated, perhaps on purpose pointing to the fact there really hasn’t been much advancement in the business of death.
A picture of an embalming machine with the brand name Dodge makes you wonder if the popular car company was thinking proactively when designing their product which accounts for approximately 30,000 deaths per year. Turns out there’s no relation to the two and Dodge the funeral provider has been a family business since 1893. The website advertises their formaldehyde-free products and offers seminars and even a magazine for those interested in this type of work.
In her statement, Blais says when she first embarked on the project she didn’t know what to expect but as she went along she began taking a Marxist attitude towards the whole procedure. However, death is big business and those working in that industry make a comfortable living by a simple fact of nature that is both unavoidable and inevitable.
Maryland 17 July 2004: Had the regular prison fare of a chicken patty , potatoes and gravy, green beans, marble cake, milk and fruit punch.
Missouri 30 August 2000: 12 ounce T-bone steak (medium rare), Caesar salad, double order onion rings, 20 ounces of Diet Coke.
Washington 27 May 1994: Salmon, scalloped potatoes, peas, tossed salad, cake.
Oklahoma 22 January 2009: Barbecue ribs, chopped beef, hot links, baked beans, plain potato chips, coconut doughnuts and chocolate milk.
Since the year 2000, artist Julie Green has immortalized the final meal requests of US death row inmates. It’s an on-going project aptly-titled The Last Supper, and she paints cobalt-blue pictures of the meals onto second-hand porcelain plates.
Green’s initial inspiration for the series came when she was working at the University of Oklahoma and noticed this menu printed in her morning paper: “three fried chicken thighs, 10 or 15 shrimp, tater tots with ketchup, two slices of pecan pie, strawberry ice cream, honey and biscuits, and a Coke.” It was included in the death notice of an inmate’s execution. This tradition of a final meal startled her, and she clipped the menu, as well as others that she saw.
Not long after seeing that clipping did she start The Last Supper. Along with painting the plates, she also details what the inmate ordered. Green writes:
In states with options, most selections are modest. This is not surprising, as many are limited to what is in the prison kitchen. Others provide meals from local venues. California allows restaurant take-out, up to fifty-dollars. Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, and Long John Silver’s are frequently selected in Oklahoma, where their fifteen-dollar allowance is down from twenty in the late 1990’s. Requests provide clues on region, race, and economic background. A family history becomes apparent when Indiana Department of Corrections adds “he told us he never had a birthday cake so we ordered a birthday cake for him.”
Over time, she’s completed 600 plates – 50 a year. Green spends six months of every year working on this project, and she plans to continue it until capital punishment is abolished.
The Last Supper will be on display this spring at the Dayton Art Institute in Dayton, Ohio in an exhibition titled The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates. (Via PBS Art Beat)
Adventure photographer David Heath delicately captures the enchanting land of Burma, showing its shockingly stunning, exotic beauty. Over the course of five years and after taking eight individual trips to this mysterious place, Heath has completed a masterpiece of a collection of photographs radiating with natural beauty, and dripping with color. This incredible series, now available in print as a coffee table book, is a tribute and celebration to the lush culture and land that is Burma.
“From the moment I first set foot in this magical land, I fell under its spell. I found it to be one of the most enthralling and visually captivating countries I have had the privilege to explore – truly a photographer’s paradise,” explains Heath, “I aspired to convey the soul of the beautiful Burmese people, their mystical culture and mysterious customs, in the most artistic way possible”.
Burma, a place not many people can say they have traveled to, has become a place of comfort for Heath, as you can see in his photographs. He captures subjects with such love and allows such a strong authenticity to remain within them. Heath uses no flash, only natural lighting in order to show the true, authentic nature of this amazing culture. Traveling through Burma by boat, canoe, train and foot, Heath shows us remote and rare perspective of this captivating land. Each image is a remarkable adventure where we can see ancient temples, colorful and traditional Burmese clothing, busy street markets, tribal face tattoos, and the sparkling, eager eyes of the children of Burma. We are able to experience a culture that seems a world away through the intimacy of David Heath’s travels.
Allie Pohl uses the measurements of an ideal woman (36-24-36) to engage in a number of conceptually driven art projects. Taking this ‘perfect form’, she fabricates a mannequin torso to represent the prototype for her conversations. To Pohl, this middle area constitutes a place of birth, renewal and assists the artist in her studies about self esteem, image and determination. In one project, the form is used as a chia pet showing the grass growing in the torso’s genital area. In another, the form is created using a red mirrored material and placed on a pedestal.
Pohl reassesses our idea of beauty and reflects on what women deem important. Some of her other work has examined the torso in the bathroom where she photographed a model on the toilet in gallery and museum restrooms. Her intention was to show the amount of time woman spend in the john. Another saw her take on the high heel. In 6″ shoes with a strap-on camera she went hiking. The result bore an all too familiar metaphor to the extremes women go to achieve physical perfection.
The hairier sex has also been the subject of Pohl’s studies. Using male mannequin legs from different eras, she created a group sculpture. The idea was to show what the perfect ‘male leg’ looked like throughout the years. Most recently, her torso has been used for philanthropy through a line of jewelry where all the proceeds go to various women’s organizations where Pohl lectures and discusses these important issues.