Jorge Rodríguez-Gerada is known for his culture-jamming renegade advertising disruptions, and even more so for his large-scale charcoal portraits of local residents on the buildings in their neighborhoods (previously featured here). But his newer works have gotten bigger, so large many of them can be seen from Google Earth.
“Working at very large scales becomes a personal challenge but it also allows me to bring attention to important social issues, the size of the piece is intrinsic to the value of its message,” says the Cuban American artist. “Creativity is always applied in order to define an intervention made only with local materials, with no environmental impact, that works in harmony with the location.”
Works like WISH (above) took several years to complete, and involve a time-consuming process which begins by using a plotted grid system and only recently available Topcon GPS technology to map the area. 30,000 wooden stakes were applied as markers to an open area in Belfast, Northern Ireland’s Titanic Quarter shipyards, resulting in a portrait drawn by volunteers using nearly 8 million pounds of sand, rock and soil. The massive scale of the project is balanced by the delicacy of its subject, an anonymous local girl Rodríguez-Gerada met while planning the project (via blog4uuntitled).
Melissa Brown is a printmaker who has turned her attention towards painting and animation. Her paintings repeat imagery in the way a print might, but also take on the physical quality of paint. This hybridity allows the paintings to have elements that are both familiar and strange. Brown’s animation is also a hybrid of print and paint. The animation you are about to click on is set to a mellow carnivalesque tune. Melissa has worked with games, in their various forms, to create her art. She has used the folded paper Fortune Teller we all used in grade school, and all the way up to an all-night performance on how to win the State Lottery in front of a movie screen filled with diagrams. Brown’s new animation keeps with this interest in games. It is based on an old street con, the shell game. You can see that animation in the Dinter Project Room.
When I have spoken to Melissa about her work she always starts by telling me something very technical, like something about the lighting, but we eventually talk about how the patterns and spaces in the work make us feel. This new work has a sort of physical effect on me, like a great bass line that comes out of nowhere, and, even though you’re in a bad mood, makes you dance with your seat belt on at a red light in your car at an intersection. Brown is in a group show at a Bright Lyons called Freak Furniture Fan Club with two other great printmakers Leif Golberg and Erin Rosenthal.
“Hermaphrodite [sex … is] the sex of the angels,” explains Claudette, an intersex sex worker, to the photographer Malika Gaudin-Delrieu. The pair began their collaboration after meeting in Claudette’s native Switzerland, where Gaudin-Delrieu was documenting the country’s legalized prostitution. With her recent series of photographs, the artist elegantly dispels stigma around complex gender identities; as seen through her lens, Claudette is a woman, a husband, and a father.
Ideas on prostitution, a field often associated with the abuse and exploitation of women, is also complicated by the work. Here, sex work is seen as a means of self-actualization and joy; “Claudette is the opposite of a victim. She controls her life, makes her choices clearly and knowingly. She does more than just live her life, she loves it,” says Gaudin-Deirieu of her subject. A courageous activist for sex workers’ rights, our protagonist stands before a dark auditorium, bathed in spotlight, silently inhaling, poised to speak.
Laced throughout the work are subtle moments of love and intimacy. The series, romantically titled La vie en rose (presumably after the love song by Edith Piaf, a prolific French singer who was cared for by sex workers), focuses in part on Claudette’s 52 year marriage to her wife Andrée. Claudette’s quiet warmth and affections, seen in her and Andrée’s sleepy embrace, permeates throughout the entire visual narrative; with the same profound care, she counts her earnings, dresses in lingerie, rubs her neck.
Claudette describes her work as “[assuming the role of] ultimate femininity […] with happiness and a sense of relief,” and her nuanced relationship with her sensual yearning shines through in the images. We follow her as stops in the street, seduced by a lingerie shop window, as she dresses herself, fingering the textured fabrics as they cling to her body. Claudette’s life, as seen through streaming sunlight and soft darkness, is magnetic, alluring, and unexpectedly soothing, and viewers are left to ponder an indescribably complex global sexual and political landscape. What do you think? (via Feature Shoot and HuffPost)
Writer’s note: Gaudin-Deirieu’s work and this post are in no way meant to be taken as a generalization of the lives of sex workers; instead, they are meant to highlight the life an individual. As the artist explains, there are as many views on prostitution as there are people practicing it. For many, it’s a form of abuse; for Claudette, it is not.
The word “hermaphrodite” is usually considered to be offensive, and in no way is this post meant to condone or encourage the use of the word under most circumstances. Here, it is used only because Claudette herself identifies with the word.
The magic of the family photograph lies in its flaws, and the curatorial team at website Awkward Family Photos has reminded us of this fact by collecting and cataloguing all of our charming photographic failings and reminding us that for every perfect chiclet smile, there’s a disgruntled side-eye or a bad haircut. The online collection is a testament to the bonds of family, and each accident betrays the touching vulnerability of each relationship.
The family photo album is a fragile, private thing; when made public, these images constitute a powerful and uncomfortable archive of American tradition and cultural shifts. While a photograph of mother, son, and daughter dressed to the nines in shoulder-padded polka-dots and acid wash jeans might have been swell in the ’80s, it serves now as a painful and permanent reminder of our fleeting coolness and relevance. In one image, a young man seductively holds a live snake; in a similarly embarrassing assertion of power within the family, a father superimposes himself over a cheesy portrait with now-outdated technology.
As family structures and fashion choices continue to shift, Awkward Family Photos is a visual historical narrative worthy of being preserved. And it will have its moment of glory in an upcoming exhibition at Santa Monica’s California Heritage Museum. The collection is to be arranged and hung in accordance with the following categories: “Family Portrait, Siblings, Vacation, Kids, Holidays, Weddings, Dad, Mom, Grandparents, Birthdays, and Family Pet.”
Exhibition goers will be invited to sit for their own portraits, which are to be added to the collection. This refreshing series is about embracing the awkward within us all; through each image, there are clear hints of love, charm, and unabashed playfulness. (via My Modern Met)
Lisa Alonzo’s sugary technique obscures a dark symbolic core. The images are beautiful and the technique is divine. In fact, the technique is a refinement of one of the high points of Modern painting, Pointillism, and Alonzo adds another, almost hysterical layer to Seurat’s Le Grande Jatte, by combining the beauty of Pointillism’s ballet of color with the designer frosting florets of a confectioner. According to the press release from Claire Oliver Gallery, that excess of beauty, when compared with the otherwise violent or mundane subjects, a hand grenade, a gun, a beer can, is a critique aimed at consumer desire. As a painter who has often struggled with acrylic painting, I was really impressed by the freshness of these paintings. You can see Lisa Alonzo’s new work at Claire Oliver until April 26th. Photos courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery.
Altering found photographs with a ghoulish touch, artist Angela Deane’s series Ghost Photographs depicts the supernatural having a good time. The quirkiness of subject matter pairs well with the aged source materials. Large group images are no longer a sea of smiling faces; Now, they are white, hollow-looking sheets staring back at the viewer. It’s amusing more than it is creepy because they aren’t terrorizing people, and existing as a normal person would.
Ghosts symbolize what’s gone but not forgotten. Deane paints over portraits of time that we’ll never get back. It’s the passing of a memory, and something that won’t easily leave us, no how matter good or bad.
Perhaps this series doesn’t need to be so existential. We can enjoy these small, strange works about ghosts on vacations, celebrating birthdays, and at the amusement park. Because hey, sometimes the supernatural needs a break from haunting. (Via Flavorwire)
Sculptor Andy Yoder spent nearly two years on his piece, Early One Morning, painstakingly applying thousands of painted matches to create a globe with the implied potential to catch fire. The matches, which were individually hand-painted, recreate the continents and oceans, but also swirling weather patterns (of note, Hurricane Sandy is seen off the west coast of North America).
The wooden matches are connected to a food and cardboard base, held together by a plywood skeleton (as a precaution, Yoder covered the piece a flame retardant chemical). Yoder’s piece can be seen Winkleman Gallery at this year’s PULSE New York Contemporary Art Fair, May 8–11. (via from89 and junk-culture)
Danish photographer Torkil Gudnason lives in New York City where he is mostly known for his work in fashion photography. As a side project, Gudnason creates botanical still lives using soft, ethereal lighting for his series “Electric Blossom” and “Hothouse Color.” Gudnason constructs his shots so that brightly colored backgrounds accent the flowers’ rich spectrum of color and texture. Gudnason compares the emergence of springtime to an explosion, noticing the energy that bursts forth during the change of seasons. He says, ”I’ll glance out the window of my studio, and see a flower blooming in a most surprising place. Such a contrast—like magic. I think about how the flower got there and how it survives, how strong flowers are.”
The bright colors and contrasts in Gudnason’s botanical photography nearly render the images unnatural, as if they have been digitally manipulated. This illusion of artificiality enhances the beauty of the photography by asking the viewer to consider the boundaries of the natural and man-made, and the role of the photographer in creating alternate perceptions of reality. (via cross connect and plant propaganda)