The internet is currently swarming with stories, tributes, and memorials to the late, great Robin Williams who passed 3 days ago. Some people may not know that in addition to being an actor, comedian, activist, and improv performer, Williams was also an unabashed lover of video games, comic books, and graphic novels, and that this loss resonates throughout these communities as well. Yesterday, Nick Gazin over at Vice posted crowd-sourced illustrations that pay tribute to the performer, his characters, and his life. (via vice)
In some places in Ireland there are housing developments that stand like lonely sentries, waiting for people who never come. Valérie Anex’s series “Ghost Estates, Ireland, 2011” captures these eerie non-residences and their all but unused communal spaces.
The National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis NIRSA defines a ghost estate as a development of ten houses or more in which fifty per cent or less of homes are occupied or completed. In October 2010, according to official estimates, there were 2846 ghost estates and more than 350 000 vacant homes throughout the Republic of Ireland.
Even completed and populated these estates would be odd Stepford-like places, with their rows of identical buildings spreading across the countryside. Lived in, though, they would adapt and change, influenced by their residents. Landscaping, additions, a new front door color— eventually the sameness of the buildings would subside. Empty, though, the monotony is numbing. Anex’s photos are stark and documentary in style. The repetition of the house forms, a superfluous real-life copy and paste, benefit from their pragmatic composition. Anex doesn’t rely on fancy tricks or filters to evoke the paralysis of these places—the empty eyed windows and rubble-strewn lawns become increasingly disturbing with each image in the series.
These empty shells are eyesores for the locals in these small towns. The crisis is affecting the country – unemployment, debts, budget cuts, flights of capital investments – but it is also shaping its landscape. Bitter memories left by the spectral and temporary nature of the property boom in Ireland, ghost estates are the symbol of the property market’s collapse, a topology of the economic disintegration of the country.
There are some residents in these ghost estates, though Anex has chosen not to include them in her photos. Tana French’s chilling 2013 novel, Broken Harbor, is set in such a place. In that book, madness and murder and awful fear take place among the mostly empty and unfinished houses of an Irish ghost estate. Looking at these photos, it doesn’t seem a stretch. It can’t be comfortable to live in such a place, with unfinished houses and absent lives. (via Slate)
Heather Benning refurbished an abandoned farmhouse built in the 60s and turned it into a life-sized Dollhouse in the style of the era. Her project began in 2005, as she remade the house to be used, re-shingling the roof with recycled shingles, restoring and furnishing the house, and stood open to the public until 2013. She removed the north side of the building, and replaced it with plexi-glass, to look like an authentic children’s toy. When the building was no longer structurally sound, Benning – who has already planned for such an event – burned it down. The resulting images of the 8 year long project are lovely, although I’m sure seeing the thing in life would be much more exciting!
Benning grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. It has profoundly influenced her practice. Rather than installing in urban centers, as is the general practice of sculpture and installation artists – because, you know, there are more people to see your work – she installs in rural settings similar to where she grew up.
Benning speaks about her relationship to farmhouses:
I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. I was affected by my surroundings; when I was young, my parents would give me disused farm buildings for “play-houses.”
There was also an abandoned farmyard/house about a mile through the field on some land my father worked. In the summer months and on weekends, I would spend days exploring this yard and house, imagining what it was prior—who the people were, make up stories why they left. My sister and I would play “pioneer” based on the tales our grandmothers told us.
(Article and quote via Canadian Art)
Photographer Patrick Willocq grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its culture has shaped his work as an adult. In the series I am Walé Respect Me, Willocq provides us with a peek into tribal traditions that are still practiced in the DR Congo. These particular photographs create a narrative that portrays the stories of primiparous (first-time) nursing mothers. They are colorful scenes featuring compositions that are set like a stage, as we see objects hanging from a not-so-invisible string. Willocq speaks more about his images that blend the truth with the fantastical:
I’ve always been fascinated by native tribes because I feel they have a wealth that we have somehow lost. To document this beautiful tribute to motherhood, fertility and femininity, I proposed to some Walés to participate in staged photographs. Each set-up worked as a visual representation of one of the subjects that the Walé would sing about on the day of her release from seclusion. On that day, she sings the story of her own loneliness, and with humor praises her own behavior while discrediting her Walé rivals. (Via Juxtapoz)
New Zealand based sculptor Neil Dawson constructs sculptures made from aluminum and stainless steel, creating geometric shapes that appear to floating mid-air or suspended by nearly invisible reinforcements. Some of them look like simple illustrations, drawn in the air, while others are more complex constructions. Dawson often suspends his weightless work in civic spaces and skyscapes, creating gravity-defying, airy illusions.
“There’s something sanctified about a gallery environment because the works are physically and visually static,” Dawson says. “With public sculpture there’s a real dynamism because it’s constantly changing with the light and the elements. The majority of my work has more holes in it than substance – it’s about looking through things, not just at things. There’s always an element of surprise,” he says, noting the appearance of his sculptures changes day to day, and that the experience is unique to each viewer. “When art is frozen in a gallery, it loses those possibilities.” (via juxtapoz)
In her series “Flower Power,” photographer Sophie Gamand has overcome her childhood fear of dogs by photographing Pit Bulls—wearing flower crowns.
“This project started as an excuse for me to discover more about pit bulls, and to see for myself what the debate was about. Were they really all crazy and dangerous? Or were most of them simply the victims of a generalization? … ‘Flower Power’ is about challenging myself to approach pit bulls with a fresh perspective and an open heart. I invite the viewer to do the same.”
The term Pit Bull designates an appearance, not a breed, and until fairly recently Pit Bulls were considered America’s Dog. What happened? Some states and counties have introduced breed specific legislation and outright bans to make it illegal to own a dog that even looks like a pit bull. They can be killed based on the way they look regardless of their temperament or previous history.
Though Gamand shares her concern with other Pit Bull defenders, for example Pitproject600 which also uses photography to show the gentle side of these dogs, the soft-focus, Photoshopped backgrounds of the dog pictures and the sweet flower crowns are an inventive and charming concept.
“The imagery associated with these dogs is often harsh, very contrasted, conveying the idea of them being tough. In my opinion, this feeds the myth that these dogs are dormant psychopaths. So I decided to take the other route and portray them like hippies, soft fairy-tale-inspired characters, feminine and dreamy.”
Thirty percent of the total dogs admitted to U.S. animal shelters are labeled as pit bulls, and 86.7 percent of pit bulls admitted to open admission shelters end up being killed. With her fairy-tale photos of dreamy eyed dogs, Sophie Gamand wants to give these dogs another chance. (Via Fast Company)
How do you get what money can’t buy? The good folks at Johnny Walker Blue Label and Jude Law show us how. This epic tale starts deep at sea on an Italian boat built in 1928. Jude Law and Giancarlo Gianni are cruising through what seems to be a perfect paradise complete with tropical islands, lot of sun, and a cool breeze. As a man that has everything, Jude confesses that he must have the luxurious and rare boat. When Giancarlo alerts Jude that no amount of money can purchase the boat Jude comes up with a challenge. Since the boat is priceless and no amount of wealth can obtain it, he challenges Giancarlo to a gentlemen’s wager, a dance off of sorts set in a memorable restored nightclub complete with a live jazz band and backup singers. With a delicious Johnny Walker Blue Label Whisky in hand and a few taps of their feet, the two men battle it out on the dance floor as only two stylish gentlemen could. Watch the video until the end and see how this epic tale between two sea loving gentlemen ends.
This post is sponsored by Johnny Walker Blue Label.
In their book Waska Tatay, French photographer Thomas Rousset and graphic designer Raphael Verona document the cryptic reality of Bolivian witchcraft. During their trip to the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Rousset and Verona encountered the magical world of shamanism, spiritual healers and ancient mythology. Their book exposes the collision between old and new, mystical and mundane, spiritual and physical.
The ambivalence of Waska Tatay begins from a first glance. Book’s abstract cover of fading yellows and blues is contrasting with the actual matter. The clash continues throughout Rousset and Verona’s style of photography, which is tossing between reportage and staged portraiture. Finally, the grotesque ambiguity reaches its top when the subjects in all their ritual garments are photographed in their mundane surroundings. This incoherence between content and form exposes the viewer to the grim reality of tradition in today’s world.
“We decided to mix two languages: one very staged and those that are very snapshot. We mixed a lot to create ambiguity for the reader, in knowing what’s real and what’s fiction.”
Rousset and Verona claims to have tried to zoom the old fashioned world into today’s reality. The picture of a Bolivian girl standing in a tree is an iconic example of their idea: “You could see that the girl is a witch, trying to talk with divinities or evils but her voice to God is replaced by a cell phone,” says Verona. According to the photographers, what they witnessed in Bolivia was a sense of magical realism which they wanted to broadcast to the viewer. The book Waska Tatay is available on IDPURE. (via Wired)