Proving that snow globes aren’t just kitschy souvenirs, artist duo Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz create mini worlds covered by glass domes that are dark, gloomy, and slightly sinister. The scenarios they build are usually set in a stark wintery landscape and feature characters carrying out strange, ill-disposed acts on each other.
Working together since 1994, Martin and Muñoz source different figurines or model making elements, cut them up and re-assemble them as victims or criminals at a crime scene. They use plumber’s epoxy to build the base of the scenes, and cover it in a water resistant resin. Then, they fill up the globes with a water and alcohol solution, to create the authenticity of the object.
Taking inspiration from dreams, movies, and literature, the pair is happy to build on a bizarre or surreal narrative. Their scenes are very dark indeed: A man is caught in the act of dropping a boulder onto another man’s face, or we watch a woman suspiciously planting a dead tree in the snow, or two men vindictively dangling children over a deep dark well, all surrounded by the stillness of snow and winter. They see their snow globes as a celebration of that uneasy feeling you get when you are lost in a crowd, or left alone somewhere uncomfortable. Martin reflects on the environment that he grew up in and those feelings he experienced within them:
I always liked a good snowstorm, and so many of my best memories revolve around those occasions. The water is the thing in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. Everything that comes out of it, everything that you can do on it, or in it, is special. (Source)
Their globes and a number of other artist’s impressions of winter were also featured previously in a post on B/D. Click here to check out the different ideas of just what that wintery spirit is all about.
The current political situation in Greece is on everybody’s mind at the moment. So the installation by Madrid based artist SpY couldn’t be more poignant. Made up of €1000 worth of 2c coins, he glued the coins to a neighborhood wall in Bilbao, spelling out CRISIS in bold, eye catching capital letter. Not surprisingly, given the current financial state across the continent, the passing public helped themselves to the work, and in less than 24 hours, all of the coins had disappeared.
An active urban artist since the 80s, SpY has been long involved in making subtle social commentary for all to see. He often installs large letters or text-based work on the sides of buildings, or creates shapes in ivy on walls; has wrapped up a police car in plastic and has also formed inaccessible areas that make people look twice. He interrupts people’s daily routes to work, or comments on the urban structures that surround them.
The bulk of his production stems from the observation of the city and an appreciation of its components, not as inert elements but as a palette of materials overflowing with possibilities. His ludic spirit, careful attention to the context of each piece, and a not invasive, constructive attitude, unmistakably characterize his interventions. (Source)
No doubt SpY’s techniques are effective – his irony and positive humor draw attention to pressing social matters, and in a non-aggressive way, make viewers think twice about their political and physical environment.
SpY’s pieces want to be a parenthesis in the automated inertia of the urban dweller. They are pinches of intention, hidden in a corner for whoever wants to let himself be surprised. (Source)
Bizarre and surreal animal manipulations are artist Sarah Deremer’s specialty. In her series titled Balloon Zoo, she transforms colorful balloon animals into the real life animals they represent. At first glance, you may think that the balloons have been painted to look hyper real. However, once you see the animal eye looking back at you, it is unmistakable that something is different about these balloon animals. Each creature is still in the shape of a balloon animal, but appears to have characteristics and features of its living counterpart. Their bright colors and fun shapes contrast against the visible textures of fur, shell, and skin. Both cute and a little odd, her quirky critters will have you staring, trying to decipher what is real and what is not.
After receiving her bachelor’s in photography, she took her work to the next level through digital manipulation. It is truly amazing how the details of the real animal bend and form around each part of the balloon version. Animal manipulation is a common theme in Deremer’s work, as she has other work titled Animal Food and Big Mouth Birds that will change your perception of what could be possible in the animal kingdom.
“Balloon Zoo is a photo-manipulation project showing the realistic rendition of children’s balloon animals. The balloons are all re-imagined with realistic elements, made by combining photos of balloons with photos of the animals they represent.”
Thomas Mailaender’s creative use of sunburns in his project “Illustrated People” combines the surface of the human body with already existing negatives of photographs to create stunning and unusual results. His project consists essentially of manufacturing sunburns: he does this by placing negatives on his subjects bodies, and shining a UV light on the designated area. The light from the lamp shines onto the subject’s skin and, around the negatives in such a way that the image from the negative is reproduced. This method yields fascinating results that draw your attention, not only because of the photographs on display, but also the way he transforms the sheer pain of sunburn into a work of art themselves.
His juxtaposition of human bodies and other people’s lives makes for a sort of temporary tattoo, where the subjects carry the story of a stranger on their bodies. This project is truly beautiful in both its conceptual and physical form in the way that it joins human lives both past in present in a single work of art. The use of a natural element, albeit artificially inflicted in this case, such as UV rays in combination with the man made element of photography adds another dimension to the artwork and depicts human bodies as both artwork and creators of art. The temporary nature of the sunburn is also fascinating in its own respect: once it disappears, so will the photographs, giving the process of regeneration of skin an active role in this piece.
The future predicts a change in the definition of gender as we know it. The new work of Can Pekmedir, a Turkish artist, could not fall at a better time. In his series “Bone Structure” he is examining how the human face would look like with distorted features and a seamless flesh.The result is intriguing and repulsive. The flesh and individual hair seen so close creates a feeling of discomfort. He manipulates photographs using an algorithm and three dimensional technology. Through 3D, the viewer has the freedom to examine the visuals, whereas when it’s in 2D, he is following the artist’s point of view.
Coincidence and failed experiences are at the premise of these artistic discoveries. Can Pekmedir is instinctively morphing recognizable body shapes to get harmony. “My studies are focused on reconstructing and deforming bodies by altering the physical conditions in which the entity exists and/or treating them as test subjects for virtual experiments”.
If these creatures are perceived as mutants, then in no time we can imagine being close to sci-fi and fantastic inhabitants populating the earth. The artist isn’t telling us a story, he is delivering a brutal reality of his artistic vision. We have the liberty to accept or reject it, but the fact that a change is yet to come in the way the human race will evolve is a crucial point to investigate. (via designfaves)
Alaina Varrone is a Connecticut-based artist who reinvests the folk art of embroidery with her off-the-cuff brand of weirdness. Many of her works explore nudity, and some are candidly erotic, displaying cross-stitched pornographic stills endowed with traces of memory and fantasy. Other pieces are humorous and somewhat morbid (don’t let the masked man’s “smile” deceive you, with those severed arms of his). More recently, Varrone has embroidered a series of portraits of empowered young women simply hanging out — often dressed in rock metal clothes — and indulging in the occasional bawdy behavior, such as the poolside alien “kiss.”
Despite the apparent clash of a traditional medium with contemporary “deviance,” Varrone’s intention is not to shock, but rather to raise questions, provoke absurdity, and induce laughter (you can read more about this in her interview with Evil Tender). Indeed, her raw, unapologetic style and bizarre subject matter is humorous; like the amusingly strange marginalia people have found in medieval tomes, Varrone’s works participate in a very human tradition of wanting to create lightness and celebrate fun and absurdity. With her skill, creativity, and wit, Varrone’s pieces are uniquely entertaining. You can view more on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Flickr. (Via Juxtapoz)
The owner of anthillart.com has been turning ant extermination into a controversial art form by creating aluminum casts of expired colonies. After locating an anthill — mostly, those of the fire ant and carpenter ant species — he pours boiling, liquid metal into the entranceway, solidifying the tunnels and killing anything inside. The cast of the ant nest is then dug out, sprayed off, and mounted on a wooden base for display. Many of them are then sold on eBay to schools and collectors.
There is no doubt that Anthill Art’s pieces are deeply fascinating. By extracting the colonies from their molten graves, he allows us to appreciate the intricacy and alien-like beauty of the various tunnels and chambers. The species have markedly different construction strategies: the fire ants’ patterns are dense and labyrinth-like, resembling coral formations and Christmas trees. Some of them have long tunnels reaching out to isolated chambers. The carpenter ants’ structures, on the other hand, are very linear, resembling fungi growths as they extend into the earth with central chambers branching off.
Unsurprisingly, Anthill Art has provoked ethical questions surrounding the destruction of life in the names of art and education. On his YouTube channel, the owner has explained that fire ants and carpenter arts are nuisance species, the former being an imported pest that is “harmful to the environment,” destroying crops and preying on bees and other beneficial pollinators (Source). And ant extermination is a common, ongoing practice — so does it make a difference if we turn their annihilation into art or learning tools? Defending his work against an onslaught of criticism, the owner has claimed that with the less-invasive carpenter ants he tries his best to find abandoned colonies (Source). At the intersection of art, education, and ethics, Anthill Art’s ant-tombs are topics of debate.
Turning to our readers: what do you think? Is it okay to cast ant colonies for the purposes of education and art, so long as the ant species are deemed “pests”? We’re curious to hear your responses. Learn more at anthillart.com as well as the website’s Facebook page.
The morbid sculptures of Caitlin T. McCormack would fit right in at your next Halloween party. She creates beautifully intricate skeletons of fictional creatures – rodents, seahorses, insects and animals. Not only do they look fragile, macabre, antique, precious and ghoulish, but you would probably be surprised to learn what they are made from. The artist actually discovered that covering crocheted cotton string in PVA glue stiffens the material, producing a bone-like effect.
Her dark, heavenly creatures are usually displayed, sprawled out and pinned to a dark board of some sort. They look as if their skin and meat has been carefully dissected and discarded, leaving their skeletal remains to be gracefully displayed for all to delight in their discovery. Not only does McCormack craft these intricate alien-bone-forms, but also delicate lace work, dramatic dresses that look like they were worn to a ghost’s wedding, and charming little illustrations and plasticine characters that usually reference a well known horror story.
The busy artist doesn’t stop there – her work will be also feature as a part of the group show Opus Hypnagogia: Sacred Spaces of the Visionary and Vernacularat The Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, New York. Exploring states we experience between waking and sleeping, the show is a journey into altered perspectives, dark thoughts and unknown visions. A combination of historical, ‘Outsider’ and Visionary art, the show promises to be enlightening and entertaining. Running from July 18th – October 15th, be sure to explore the show and bring out your own black magic.