Photographer Mariell Amélie‘s self-portraits are a bit like playing with an imaginary friend on the borderlands of fantasy and reality. They transport her to a dreamy limbo state, each looking like a snapshot from some noir-ish modern fairy tale. Some are haunting, others playful, but all have a sheen of melancholy, an icy veneer. This sensibility is perhaps explained partially by Amélie’s biography, which places her childhood on “a small island above the arctic circle.” A wind-blown isolation permeates her photography, no matter if the backdrop is breath-taking iceberg mountains or bright dollhouse interiors.
Her self-portraits are enigmatic. They are, to borrow a phrase from science, a bit of “spooky action at a distance” — in one, she contemplates her skates on a puddle-sized ice rink; in another, she pays no heed to the warnings of Narcissus, leaning down to kiss the marsh waters. The latter photograph is called “Part Time Lover.” All of Amélie’s photographs have similarly suggestive names: “She Had Just Left for Heaven, They Said,” is the name of one; “Alone and Unaware” is the name of another. As she tumbles from the driver’s seat of a car, vacant-eyed, the photograph’s name comments, “Someone Will Be Waiting at the Station.” These names, paired with the in media res nature of her photographs, give the unshakable feeling that there’s more to the story than meets the eye. If only it were possible to look beyond the veil.
Do you ever wonder what will happen to your body after you die? Thanks to Jae Rhim Lee, our bodies could go out of this world in a way that helps the environment. This ingenious artist has breeched the lines of art, design, science, and death to create something that could change the way we think about burials. Concerned with the alarming amount of harmful toxins and artificial chemicals that human bodies hold even after the point of living, Lee was determined to invent a sustainable way for our bodies to be disposed of during our burials. This led her to start the Infinity Burial Project, where she worked to create, through selective breeding, an infinity mushroom that decomposes bodies and clean toxins while still delivering nutrients to plants.
Through hard work, Jae Rhim Lee’s goals were realized with her creation of the Mushroom Death Suit. This suit, which she so confidently wears while giving her TED talk on the subject, offers an alternative burial method. If wearing the suit while buried, the mushrooms spores that are infused in the lines on the suit decompose and clean your body, forming a whole new green way of death. Lee hopes that this will be a symbol of a new way of thinking about death. She explains that this project is
“A step towards accepting the fact that someday I will die and decay.”
This unique and strange invention may not be appealing to everyone, but shines light on a subject that many may not want to confront. An important lesson about the realities of our bodies decomposing underground can be learned by watching her captivating TED talk.
Joris Kuipers‘ installations are meant to be experienced viscerally. Inspired by bodily cross-sections from MRI scans, CT scans, and even botany, Kuipers’ artwork is alien yet immediately familiar. We are intimately familiar with the vascular bends and twists of his pieces, as well as the palette of reds and purples and blues.
Blown up to the size of huge wall reliefs, these biological artforms are also a little unsettling, particularly because they’ve been deconstructed, unmade, and re-formed into startling configurations. Organic deconstruction, after all, is just a hop skip away from decomposition. Of these twin concepts, Kuipers says: “Loveliness and morbidity; both Eros and Thanatos flow through my red lines.”
In some collections, Kuipers steps away from the blatantly macabre. “Letting Go” contains a brightly colored installation that looks like dreamy clouds or floating alien flowers. Other pieces in the collection involve splashes of color amidst a staid black background and plays with light, flashing and blinking at the touch of a switch. This too recalls the cathode ray tubes and autopsy scans of Kuipers’ other work, but from a subtler angle.
Subtler or not, Kuipers work is, as always, intended to be evocative. “I hope that my work will initially be experienced ‘from the abdomen’,” Kuipers says in an artist’s statement, “to gradually make itself felt in the mind of the visitor.”
Beth Cavener Stichter uses animals in her sculptures as metaphors for the irrational world humans have trouble tapping into. As sculptures of animals, we’re encouraged to feel more directly what we see the animals going through, more so than we would with a human being whom we would try to supply with a narrative context. This is part of the problem Beth is trying to deal with,to get us to embrace the unconscious and irrational parts of our existence instead of repressing them in order to assert our Humanity. The artist explains:
“There are primitive animal instincts lurking in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality. ”
We’ve featured the paintings of German artist Martin Eder before, such as his portraits of female warriors and erotic kitsch. Another notable work of his is an installation known as “Hallucination,” which was shown in the Dimensions Variable exhibition at Berlin’s Galerie Eigen + Art in May 2013. The installation features a massive sculpture (6m x 10m x 10m) made of twisted black metal that appears to hover above the ground prior to impact. Like an ominous void, the object resonates with stillness and terror, unsettling the psyche with its violent yet silent presence.
The press release for “Hallucination” likens the object to Plato’s Cave, an allegory in Western philosophy that centers around the development of cognition and one’s sense of reality. Eder’s structure resembles a cave, a negative cavity that produces tension between abstraction and reality. Its liminal status (not falling, not making contact) makes it an object of infinite reflection; it becomes a symbol of a distant threat while also operating as a source of knowledge. Our physical relationship to the object—standing in a room or a hallway with it, for example—shapes how it manifests itself in our imaginations.
Do you hear that? Do you know what that sound is? No? Well congratulations. You just summoned the most vile creature from the South Pole… Evil Santa. You must have forgotten to order your gifts before the x-mas delivery deadlines, because after the dates above have passed, you no longer get jolly old saint nick delivering your presents. Instead, you are forced to deal with his sinister step-brother who delivers presents long after the appropriate time to receive them. Make sure to get your orders in on time and avoid the nasty cretan that is Evil Santa.
For Lost and Found, the photographer Will Ellis photographs objects collected from the deserted buildings, parks, and bays of New York City. Dating back to the first half of the 20th century, each recovered object is shot with the utmost care, regardless of condition or value. The artist’s long journeys in search of his discarded relics— traversing less frequented city spots with haunting names like Dead Horse Bay and North Brother Island— give historical and totemic meanings to each possession. Once relevant only to a forgotten child, a plastic toy shoe from the 1920s is studied under lights, archived by a seemingly objective lens, and repurposed as evidence of some imagined urban ancestry.
Ellis’s choice to incorporate animal bones into a few of the images strengthens the work’s genealogical impulse; a set of hospital keys, ripped from their locks and rusted beyond recognition, stands alongside a raccoon bone separated from its socket in time. Similarly, a horse bone from the city’s industrial age is visually equated with a pair of plastic doll arms; shot from the same angle, the eroded bone and muddied plastic occupy similar portions of the frame, each lit with expert precision.
As if part of a museum catalog, the series of 30 photographs provides a cohesive, if subjective, vision of history. Through the eyes of Lost and Found, the city’s children narrate its evolution, telling a visual story that begins with doll, touches on music book, and culminates in senior portrait. Ellis’s choice of a stark white backdrop and harsh lighting brilliantly avoids potential sentimentality; as the artist invites us into a distinctly nostalgic space, we are instructed to view the work with the utmost seriousness. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
One of the most iconic artists of our time Mike Kelley passed away today at the age of 58. With over four decades of activity within the international art world spanning dozens dozens of museum shows, several art noise bands, and multiple Whitney Biennial inclusions, Kelley will be sorely missed by the art community. Watch an interview with Kelley about his work after the jump.