Pulp Drunk is an exhibition of strange book cover art and a fascinating display of the wildly weird side of pop culture. Designed to attract new readers to read the words inside the books, the covers of post-war American literature were attention grabbing and bizarre at the best of times. But not only was it the American market who was trying out these tactics – illustrators were having a good time in Mexico as well. There, the cover art tended to be even stranger. Still aimed at selling books, but they tended to be less about in-your-face-sex, and instead included violence, crime, mystery, psychedelia and sci-fi details.
They featured characters having hallucinations and apparitions; super-strength robots throwing cars on a destructive rampage; jealous gorillas who are furious they didn’t end up with the girl; a thieving woman stealing a piglet under the cover of nighttime; and circus murder mysteries. These delightfully weird scenarios could be seen to mirror the supernatural side of Mexican culture and their attitudes toward life, death and mysticism. The press release from the exhibition explains further:
These sensationalized images from the sixties and seventies often feature surreal and lurid images of extraterrestrials, robots, dinosaurs, killers, Zorro and many other icons involving suspense, mystery, romance, and the supernatural. The central characters in the narratives tend to be ordinary people facing the common challenges of day-to-day life. They are not gallant martyrs but commoners who have found themselves confronting outlandish and startling predicaments as a result of poor decisions or risky behavior. (Source)
The Pulp Drunk exhibition may be over, but you can see more bizarre covers after the jump.
Kent Rogowski is a Brooklyn-based artist who alters consumer products as a means of exploring the emotional and cultural roles such objects play in our lives. We featured his Everything I Wish I Could Be project a couple years ago, wherein Rogowsky reconfigured self-help books in order to construct subjective narratives of experience and self-definition. The series featured here, titled Bears, takes an arguably darker — but no less profound — approach to our relationship with material objects. By inverting (formerly) adorable stuffed animals and re-stuffing them, Rogowsky has created a cast of strange, sad, and grotesque characters. The visibility of their internal structures has an undeniably disturbing effect; with their exposed seams, spilling stuffing, and lidless eyes, they look like the flayed and eviscerated versions of our childhood companions. As Sarah Verdone eloquently (and humorously) wrote for Paper Magazine: “If Hannibal Lecter, Martin Margiela and a blind speed freak had a three-way in a Build-A-Bear workshop, these creatures would be their mutant offspring” (Source).
But Rogowski’s project is not just about clashing the cute with the grotesque — which, in a way, alienates us from material objects typically associated with nostalgia and comfort. His mutilated creations, in their sordid states of innocent suffering, are portraits of the hardships we experience as we grow, struggle, and change. Despite their crippling disfigurement, the stuffed creations maintain an appearance of love and loyalty, steadfastly “holding it together,” waiting for you to return home while everything slowly unravels at the seams. In a fascinating statement about this project, Rogowski writes:
“They are at once hideous yet cuddly, […] while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.” (Source)
Check out Rogowski’s website for more examples of his insightful explorations of consumer products and the way they impact our internal lives. (Via Design Faves)
One of the saddest things to see while walking around your neighborhood is a missing pet poster. A new book Lost: Lost and Found Pet Posters from Around the World by Ian Phillips captures the desperation and panic in these hand drawn, hand written xeroxed pieces of paper. It captures the highly emotional experience when someone loses a pet and also tries to give a funny but poignant look into the whole culture of what people write and draw to catch the public’s attention in helping them find their beloved fur ball.
One readily apparent trait is that most of the signs are created by someone who is not in a logical state of mind. This is not said in jest but observation because who in their right mind would draw a picture of their pet and expect someone to recognize the animal if spotted in person? Most end up looking like cartoon line drawings and it just adds to the poignancy of the whole situation. The other thing made clear is the cathartic power of drawing and writing. Even though the drawings may not look like the actual missing animal it gives the owner a chance to let out some of their emotional stress through drawing and writing. It’s no secret that creative expression has wonderful cathartic powers and in some ways might help the panic stricken person cope a little more with the situation at hand. On a positive note the book also takes a look at found animal posters which is just as funny and poignant.
Studies have shown that only 23 percent of lost dogs are reunited with their owners and 2 percent of lost cats. A microchip which can be inserted into the animal at a very low cost is a wonderful and harmless way to secure that if your pet is ever lost or stolen you have a good chance of finding them. It’s been shown that animals with microchips have a 38 percent chance of returning home to their owners if lost or stolen. (via hyperallergic)
Emma Powell‘s photo series “In Search of Sleep” is a sequence of snapshots straight out of a semi-lucid dream. To create her photos, Powell uses the cyanotype process and also tints them with tea and wine. The result is a layer of haziness and off-kilter colors that enhance the surreality of her artwork, making them almost seem like paintings of the mind.
“In Search of Sleep recreates this shadowy realm and allows me to explore my real-life questions, from personal dramas to romantic doubts,” Powell says. Her inspiration is also, in part, the bedtime stories her father used to invent, which incorporated real world locations as well as a mysterious “dream-world of caverns, forests, and oceans full of unexpected animals and dangers.”
Powell’s work certainly embodies that sense of searching, longing, and subterranean menaces. In some photos, her dreamer seems very small: standing before a looming labyrinth; marooned on a rock next to an enormous anchor; pausing before the stairs as a large shadow moves behind her.
“In Search of Sleep” almost gives the sensation that as much as the dreamer seeks, she is also being sought. Powell’s photography gives us a sense of a journey, and as mysterious as it is, we can’t be sure if the seeker ever finds what she’s looking for. (h/t I Need a Guide)
For those with a sweet tooth, the work of Peter Anton might make you hungry. The artist’s hyperrealistic sculptures of cakes, candies, and ice cream bring the sugary treats to life. At first glance, they pass as real food rather than as convincingly-painted and crafted artworks. “I like to alter and overstate foods to give them new meanings,” Anton writes in an artist statement.
The colorful, larger-than-life works showcase an acute understanding of texture and lighting. Anton was very aware at how luster plays into the believability of his objects. As a result, some of the “frosted” donuts shine just as you’d imagine. In non-glazed objects though, he applies a matte finish.
Anton has an innate reverence for what we eat, and it’s what leads to these works creation. He says:
Food brings people together and there is no better way to celebrate life. Through the use of humor, scale, irony, and intensity in my forms, the foods we take for granted become aesthetically pleasing and seductive in atypical ways. I like to create art that can lure, charm, tease, disarm and surprise. My sculptures put viewers in a vulnerable state so that I can communicate with their inner selves in a more honest and direct way. I activate the hunger people have for the things that give them pleasure and force them to surrender. The sensual nature of the works stimulates basic human needs and desires that generate cravings and passion.
The current Le Bestiaire exhibition on display at the Biennale internationale design de Saint Etienne 2015 in France is an adorable collection of grizzly monsters, creatures, critters, beasts and fiends. 14 different creatures of all shapes, sizes, colors and textures were dreamed up by a diverse bunch of artists including Studio Brichet Ziegler, Perrine Vigneron and Gilles Belley, Louise de Saint Angel, Anne Lutz, Joachim Jirou-Najou, Felipe Ribon, Les Graphiquants, Twice, Helkarava, Bonnefrite, Malika Favre, Amélie Fontaine, Leslie David and Ionna Vautrin.
In a workshop inspired by the animals in the exhibition, kids are asked to imagine themselves as a make-believe beast. A project created by Amélie Doistau and Tomöe Sugiura, the different monsters have forms, colors and patterns from actual, real life animals.
The exhibition asks us to think what it means to wear a costume, to don a disguise and to have the opportunity to act out of character.
When we dress up, regardless of whether we become beautiful or ugly, good or bad, marvelous or monstrous, everyone gets into character and is excused of all odd behavior, without being subject to ridicule. The animal kingdom is amazing and rouses the imaginations of young and old alike. Many designers have explored the world of childhood through this unifying theme. They transform everyday objects referencing zoological world. Could it be the desire to tame wild animals that propels designers to represent fierce creatures as docile pets? (Source)
If you get the chance, be sure to check it out for yourself, and you can ponder these questions further. Le Bestiaire runs from March 12 until April 12, 2015.
(Via Pattern Pulp)
British artist Philippa Beveridge fosters mystery through her series of glass change purses. In an on-going project titled Lost and Found, she reconstructs the dainty-looking accessories with trace amounts of what was left inside. The thick glass resembles an ice sculpture that also gives her work a fleeting, ethereal feel. She describes the sculptures in her writing:
[These] on-going series of works deal with the concept of collective and individual identity through the everyday form of a purse: a belonging which is often lost, stolen or mislaid, full of sentimental value and charged with personal memories. I began to make this work during a three-month long artist’s residency in Northern France. I invited local residents to visit me at the studio and show me the contents of their purses. Building on the theme of traces, I highlighted the objects and details found in the purses to forge histories and construct identities. The resulting imagery, trapped in the material, expresses notions of time, memories and sentiments which lean towards metaphorical interpretations in relation to one’s own past. (Via The Jealous Curator)
The technicolor world of Tae-Jin Seong rests meticulously on a carved piece of wood. Beneath his brilliant colors are hidden texts, symbols and scratches adding a secret aura to the painted surface. Combining that with a scroll-like comic book effect adds unique ability rarely seen in this day and age. Seong’s work points to the old traditions of woodblock printmaking. Except here, the prints are missing and a picture is permanently rendered onto the surface. There is contextual balance in his narrative combining newspaper funnies, scroll painting and comics which he uses as fertile playing ground to tell everyday stories about love, honor and happiness. His cast melds into old Ssaurabi figures (similar to Samurai) with everyday people and western superheroes. He creates a dual reality which borders on what is and what one perceives it to be.
From certain perspectives, Seong’s paintings explore quilt traditions with their sense of bright color and patchwork due to the under carvings. The tradition of quilt making includes the element of native story telling which Seong does to positive effect honing in on the daily life of small villages in his native Korea. In the end his work becomes a foray of hope turning vibrant eye candy into humorously thought provoking commodity. (via thecreator’sproject)