French artist JR, previously covered by Beautiful Decay, has recently created a series of posters and floor-bound installations for the New York City Ballet’s Art Series. The NYCB Art Series commissions contemporary artists to create original works of art inspired by the ballet’s unique energy, spectacular dancers, and one-of-a-kind repertory of ballets. Having worked with artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel in the past the tradition has a high standard and is a special example of collaboration between dance and contemporary art.
JR’s installation involved coordinating dancers’ bodies in complicated, intricate arrangements. Interested in the unique qualities of dancers’ bodies juxtaposed with the texture of paper JR sought to explore the “interaction” one experiences when viewing the ballet, or in his case when actually creating his work. Both experiences are ephemeral, not something that can be wholly captured by a singular work of art. Yet JR’s temporary installation does capture beauty, grace, and the sense of a fleeting moment by portraying many dancers arranged in the shape of an eye. Encouraging a viewer to look at both his piece and the performance JR’s installation acts as a reminder to keep our eyes open so as not to miss a thing.
JR will share his Art Series installation during three special performance evenings — January 23, February 7, 13 — when every seat in the house is available for just $29. On these evenings, every audience member will receive a takeaway created specifically for this event. More information about public viewing hours here. (via designboom, hahamag)
Lindsay Bottos, a student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, has created “Anonymous,” a series of webcam selfies overlain with anonymous messages she’s received via her Tumblr page. The messages Bottos uses criticize her appearance, body-shaming and slut-shaming the selfies she’s posted to her Tumblr page. “I get tons of anonymous messages like this every day and while this isn’t unique to women, the content of the messages and the frequency in which I get them are definitely related to my gender. I almost exclusively get them after I post selfies. The authority people feel they have to share their opinion on my appearance is something myself and many other girls online deal with daily.”
The timing of Bottos’ project coincides with a recent article published by Pacific Standard that makes the case for online harassment, especially of women, as the next issue facing women’s civil rights. Even through a medium like the internet, a platform perceived as a level playing field of expression, women receive a disproportionate amount of threats and abuse related to their gender and appearance. Bottos asserts, “The act of women taking selfies is inherently feminist, especially in a society that tries so hard to tell women that our bodies are projects to be worked on and a society that profits off of the insecurities that it perpetuates. Selfies are like a ‘fuck you’ to all of that, they declare that ‘hey I look awesome today and I want to share that with everyone’ and that’s pretty revolutionary.”
Bottos’ other projects also heavily feature text, written or embroidered, onto various surfaces. For “Get Over It,” Bottos embroidered thoughts about her sexual assault onto a tear- and mascara-stained pillowcase; for “The Morning After,” she wrote thoughts in permanent marker in places touched by a hook-up; and for “I Don’t Really Miss You,” Bottos embroidered thoughts about a relationship onto images, clothing, and mementos. Whichever medium she uses, Bottos conveys her vulnerability though language and form, rendering an honest and engaging perspective. (via buzzfeed)
As a child, the vegan taxidermist Nicola Jayne Hebson wandered the Blackburn, England countryside, the sight of dead animals haunting her memory long after she returned home. The indignity of remains left to rot struck a chord in her, and she finally took a pair of mating, deceased frogs home, gently placing them in a frame, forever bound mid-coitus.
The artist, now 23, taught herself taxidermy, using only roadkill and deceased pets. The decision to use any living or once-living creature for the sake of art raises ethical questions, but Hebson hopes that debate over her work will inspire viewers to consider the ethics of the meat industry.
Ultimately, Hebson’s work reads as an emphatic attempt to reanimate a being that no longer exists, and it that sense it does—perhaps unfairly— claim nonhuman remains as an expression of the inherently human will to be remembered after death. But in this case, the work itself is so painstakingly delicate that it feels surprisingly generous; her careful craft isn’t a boastful display of her own ability; instead, it recalls ancient mummifications or ritualistic burial practices.
Her creations exude a life-like pathos uncommon in taxidermy in part because of her paradoxical choice to rely upon fantasy over strict realism, appealing to a more emotionally heightened realm of poetry and make-believe. One rat appears to lay a loved one to rest, and the viewer is seduced into mournfulness, forgetting for a brief moment that both rats are in fact dead. Other, more surreal creatures exist within what we might imagine to be a sort of afterlife; her seven-headed rat quietly recalls the biblical Book of Revelations.
Hebson’s creations are dizzyingly anachronistic, seeming to draw inspiration from anywhere between the Medieval Gothic period to the Victorian age. Unified only in their deaths, her works speak across generations and inspire us to mourn for those we so often forget. (via BUST and VICE)
Photographer Suzanes Heintz is a self-proclaimed spinster. As a single woman, she got fed up with the bombardment of questions about when she was going to get married. Tired of being pittied, she decided to confront this issue head on. She purchased two mannequins – one male and one female child – and the series Life Once Removed was born. Dressing up and posing with her fake family, she stages witty representations of the American Dream. Ski trips, vacations, and stereotypical romantic moments are all acted out by Heintz, and she sets the scene perfectly. These colorful images feel saturated, in both how they look and the emotional exuberance of the her expression and body language.
Heintz rejects the notion that to be a successful woman means that you have to fulfill a laundry list of achievements, not limited to an education, career, home, family, accomplishment, and enlightenment. In an interview with Feature Shoot, she explains why she created Life Once Removed:
I’m simply trying to get people to open up their minds and quit clinging to antiquated notions of what a successful life looks like. I want people to lighten up on each other and themselves, and embrace their lives for who it has made them, with or without the Mrs., PhD. or Esq. attached.
All of these photographs are shot on location. When Heintz lays her head in mannequin’s husband’s lap while in the park, it’s totally real, and an important aspect to Heintz’s series. She goes on to say:
While I need the public to act as character and context for the actual photo or video, I also need their responses to make the effort a success as an instigator for social change. The reaction can vary from a raised eyebrow with a head turn, to a blast of laughter, to taking their own snapshots while posing with the mannequins. It depends a lot on the location. But most importantly, it stops people in their tracks long enough to ask me what the heck I’m doing. Because the project is so audacious and flat-out funny, it helps me reach the public, and actually get them to let their guard down long enough for me to have a conversation with them. (Via Feature Shoot)
In Hair Pieces, the photographer Rebecca Drolen examines the relationship between human beings and our hair, highlighting the impulse to deem body hair beautiful or strange. Inspired by what she calls the “archival” power of hair to outlive the rest of the human body, Drolen engages with hair pieces in comical and yet starkly emotional narratives. In the striking series, human hair transforms from ornamentation to elixir to parasite, creating a poignant work that elevates the mundane to the transcendent.
With clever titles like Hair Tie and Ear Hair, Drolen’s images read in part as a modern take on 1960s feminist photography; her carefully staged self-portraits are shot in black and white, revealing the rich grays of her vintage garments, retro decor, and and outdated shears. The home serves as the backdrop to the artist’s exploration of a more domestic femininity. In turn, the luxurious tresses and the house engage in both harmonious and conflicting dialogues: expertly styled hair dresses the windows in one image, yet in another, it uncontrollably discharges from the bathtub drain.
In her apparent nod to both women’s and photographic history, Drolen addresses the association between hair and death, or the ability of hair to document and catalog human existence. Hair fills the medicine cabinet as if promising to cure disease; it covers a foggy, indefinitely seen window to a mysterious space beyond. Like relics of years gone by, hair hangs on a wall, labeled and numbered by tally marks. Without a hint of sentimentality, a pair of shears and a head of hair lay side by side on a cleared out bed, evocative of an individual’s absence and passing. Take a look. (via Lenscratch)
Andrea Tese creates Inheritance, a poignant and thought-provoking photographic series that involves a deeply personal documentation of the artist’s mourning process following the passing of her grandfather. Apart from it being a personal tool for grieving, the Inheritance project is also an exploration of existential ideas in regards to legacy, impermanence, and the definition of self.
These photographs function simultaneously as an acknowledgement to the ephemeral nature of life and as an indulgence in man’s unwillingness to give in to this understanding – his desire to arrest time, to counter anonymity, to leave something behind, to be immortal.
By rearranging the mundane objects that filled Grandpa’s home before his passing, Tese creates these pictorial compositions that recreate her grandfather’s life in a profound, and powerful but controversial way. In essence, here, we see life as a collection of objects, a rather simple and intuitive idea, but one that certainly makes us think whether we get to leave this world with a valuable legacy or not. Are material objects our life-long legacy to our family and friends, and is that enough? Do our personal belongings carry the essence of our being?
Anyhow, it is inevitable to dismiss the fact that Tese does capture her grandfather’s spirit through his ‘junk’. After all, with most philosophical questions aside, it is fair to say that our stuff will be the only tangible pieces of self that will be left after our death. Inheritance is a definite ” poignant reminder that our junk will outlast us all.” (via Co.Design)
With spring around the corner I can’t help but think about flowers, which led me to consider Anna Schuleit’s installation Bloom, 2003, a site-specific installation at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston. Though now over ten years old I feel the idea that art and beauty can heal is a powerful and ever-relevant concept. The installation consisted of over 28,000 flowers, 5,600 square feet of live sod and recorded sound that played over the old public service announcement system. The flowers and sod filled four floors of the historic building and the basement hallways.
The building, which was slated for demolition, had a long and complicated history, having hosted thousands of patients and employees over the years. Struck by the absence of both life and color after visiting the site, Schuleit conceived of BLOOM, reinvigorating the building with an impressive display of flowers and transforming it into a fantasy world for four days. After the installation Schuleit had the flowers donated to half-way houses and psychiatric hospitals throughout New England. As she said of the installation in her interview with Colossal, “I wanted these flowers to continue onward, after the installation. Bloom was a reflection on the healing symbolism of flowers given to the sick when they are bedridden and confined to hospital settings. As a visiting artist I had observed an astonishing absence of flowers in psychiatric settings. Here, patients receive few, if any, flowers during their stay. Bloom was created to address this absence, in the spirit of offering and transition.”
Check out more of Schuleit’s work at her website and read the full interview with her here. All images copyright Anna Schuleit.
Photographer Randy Taylor had around 40 years of work archived in a storage facility that he wasn’t allowed access to until weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit. He was aware of the possibility that his work might be damaged, but wasn’t prepared for what he encountered when he arrived at the storage unit. “I descended into the smelly, wet, and dark bowels of the powerless building, which had flooded floor-to-ceiling with contaminated water,” Taylor said via email. “What I found was a jumbled, gooey mess of papers and things 3 to 8 feet high. It took the first day to carve out a vertical space just 2 feet into the unit, so I could merely walk in the door.”
Taylor tried to salvage as much as he could, but the damage and mold was so intense, that he was only able to recoup a few dozen images out of around 30,000 he had in storage. The photographs he selected weren’t based on any method; he just wanted to save as many as possible. After he selected his photographs, he dipped them in an alcohol solution to clean off the mold and stave off further destruction, though the damage has already been done, and will likely worsen with time.
Despite the sad loss of professional and family photographs, photography equipment, computers, and financial records, Taylor is heartened by the attention his Hurricane Sandy photographs are now receiving.” It’s been satisfying to have my images noticed again. Thanks to Sandy, they are truly unique.” ( via juxtapoz and slate)