In 2011, photographer Colby Vincent Edwards (in collaboration with William Franevsky and Jarrett Scherff) created The 8th Day, an incredible exhibition that “documents” a post-apocalyptic future. In addition to black and white photography, the artists designed costumes made of leather, cloth, feathers, twine, and bone. Dusty, ripped, and layered, the outfits integrate brilliantly with the wasted environment. The weapons the models carry seem ancient, but upon closer inspection betray the remnants of the present-day world: shattered metal and protruding nails.
The photographs themselves are stark and intimate, composed of “high contrasts with rich blacks, and blank white collodion skies” (Source). We see human figures traversing barren plains, salvaging debris, and collapsing in what could be sorrow, exhaustion, or near-death. With their faces masked, the characters’ physical anonymity makes it possible to imagine oneself in their place, navigating the devastated world. Here, the artists have drawn on the appeal of our childhood fantasies, but have troubled them by infusing such imaginative stories with the tragedy and finality of a cataclysmic event. Step back from the beautiful details and you perceive the vast emptiness of the world.
Even though the exhibition is a few years old, the images are still intensely relevant. Depictions of post-apocalyptic worlds weigh heavily on our social consciousness. In this way, The 8th Day captivates us while making us quietly thankful that such a universe exists only in our imaginations — for now. Visit their Tumblr page for a fuller narrative of these stunning photographs. You can view the rest of Edwards’ work here.
Colombian photographer Adriana Duque uses digital photography to illuminate bizarre narratives taken from myth and the fantastical. Combining both the context of Western lifestyle with that of the rural Colombian world, Duque explores the uncharted territory of her mind through carefully crafted scenes and settings. This series, Anthology of an Obsession, features highly polished photographs, nearly monochromatic, of children interacting with a world before the one we know.
As said within her artist statement:
“Duque treats her medium as a kind of mis en scene in which she projects her child-centered concerns, in an apparently static dramatization of actions in which a sense of astonishment and anxiety is present that also points out to a collision between the normal and paranormal. Some of her photographs build illusions of mythical proportions developed with an almost religious ritual sense; photography in this terrain is a kind of romantic gesture that directs the viewer towards a transcendental experience. In the fictional fairy tale references there lurks a disquieting subtext of sadistic overtones related to notions of childhood identity.” (Excerpt from Source)
Sculptor Monica Piloni creates surreal, multifaceted versions of the human body from resin, hair and different plastics. Whether it is a triptych of herself, melded at the hips, with multiple breasts, three legs and conjoined heads, or a double tailed horse, she has the ability to make something gruesome seem commonplace. In her work Ballet Series, she assembles body parts to look quietly surreal and unassuming, yet elegant. Figures lie on beds, as if exhausted from a recital, literally collapsing on themselves. Piloni places her models in a graceful manner, toes pointed and muscles tensed as they would be mid-dance. The poses and gestures of the bodies conjure up the drama of French Romantic oil paintings, where humans were depicted expressing a whole range of emotions with their bodies.
In her work Concave & Convex, she piles dismembered body parts up on themselves to form a human landscape. Similar to Louise Bourgeois’s ambiguous sculptural forms, Piloni fragments the human shape into abstraction, and in the process dismantles her, and our, understanding of identity.
Her sculptures are captivating because of their simplicity and fluency of movement. Even her more challenging pieces (modified women with exposed genitalia) have a gentle symmetry that reassures, rather than revolts. See more of her beautifully gruesome work after the jump. (Via Sweet Station)
The subject of Miljohn Ruperto‘s work in the recent 2014 Whitney Biennial is taken from the mysterious Voynich manuscript. Dating back to the 15th century, the book contains indecipherable text, whose authorship, has been credited throughout history to aliens, ancient Mayans, and long forgotten tribes. It repeatedly stumps the brightest scholars and laymen making it one of the greatest and most misunderstood academic mysteries of all time. The only clues to its origins lie in 126 unidentified botanical studies accompanying the text. The illustrations of plants and figures, drawn in a weirdly fantastical style, tell a story which seem to mirror life’s age old mysteries. The project involving Ruperto and his collaborator, Ulrik Heltoft began by making 3D models of the plants, which were then photographed and transferred onto black and white analog film.
The end result, is a series of creepy snap shots recalling old hollywood publicity stills. Creakily formed branches and stems appear as strange appendages, as the plants take on otherworldly shapes illuminated by sinister shadows. The staging of Voynich’s botany not only becomes haunting and striking but everlasting, offering the viewer a mostly cinematic experience. An ongoing project, it will continue with the duo creating new photos of the specimens accompanied by large paintings of an enigmatic planet known as 55 canri e. 55 cancri e is part of the cancri planetary system which revolves around our sun. Astrophysicists have suggested it might be composed entirely out of diamonds. This came to light after studies found when the planet passed in front of the sun, it absorbed an enormous amount of energy. However, much like the Voynich and due to its enormous distance from earth shall probably only remain escapist fodder for our intellectual pursuits.
In the site-specific installation Anxiety Map, designer Alexia Mosby documents an overactive mind’s anxious thoughts. It’s a personal map, and one that boldly displays the many things that run through your head as you’re leaving your home. Over the course of two flights of stairs, you’re doubting that the stove was turned off or the door was locked. After making your way to the bottom of the steps, you come to the conclusion that you have to go back and check.
Anxiety Map uses stairs, walls, and even railings to transmit her text in black masking tape. At certain angles letters look distorted, and it’s only when you approach them from very specific ways that they appear correct. Otherwise, they are stretched, shortened, and sometimes incomprehensible – not dissimilar to the thoughts in our head.
Singer and model Viktoria Modesta isn’t satisfied with just the practical everyday. After having to amputate her leg because of medical reasons, she’s reinvented herself as a cyborg pop star, performing graceful pirouettes and sexy catwalks, completely unencumbered by her prosthetic limb.
In her collaboration with Channel 4, Modesta released a music video (watch it after the jump) called “Prototype,” which features her doing a breathtaking dance using her bionic leg like the blade of a knife. It’s a dramatic display of sci-fi elegance, one that ends with the slogan, “Some of us were born to be different; some of us were born to take risks.”
Modesta echoed this sentiment in past interviews, saying, “The time for boring ethical discussions around disability is over. It’s only through feelings of admiration, aspiration, curiosity and envy that we can move forward.” (via Bored Panda)
Seattle artist Kyler Martz is an illustrator, painter, and tattoo artist with an expressionist style so unique within his field that it seems to take the whole concept of tattoo work into uncharted territory. While the work of famous tattoo personas like Ed Hardy has mass commercialized the basic styles of sailor tattoo art and tattoo graphics into a nearly bland generalized version of itself, Martz is pushing the genre forward and taking it back to weird, in the best way possible. Having mastered the basics of line work and image building, what stands out about Martz is his use of layered objects and elements to create a woven narrative that is surprisingly dense within a compact space. Using both abstract and figurative symbology, Martz has found an interesting balance between the literal and the ethereal that makes his work conceptually vivid and involved. Many hidden aspects lie in wait: faces and skulls within landscapes, pocket knives folding open into mountainscapes, and often you can find the Eye of Hamsa nestled within the architecture of the piece. Russian nesting dolls, houses on snails backs, and boats made of sea creatures are other strange metaphorical pockets Martz’s work has inhabited and enlivened. Allusions to the omnipresent spirit of the northwest drift in and out of his work: campfires, trees, The Puget Sound, log cabins, mountains, and wildlife; items detailing the Filson/Pendleton lifestyle that is deeply embedded in the historical northwest culture. These abstract notions add a sense of timeless mystery and allow his work to be interpreted on multiple tiers of thought. It will be really fun to see where he is at and what he is making a few years from now.
Aleah Chapin‘s oil painting series The Aunties is an intimate, realistic, immodest look at a women’s world, as seen and experienced by a woman. The models featured are actually the artist’s mother’s friends, women who she has grown up with, and with whom she has a personal, unadulterated knowledge of. Chapin hasn’t spared any detail in her oversized portraits – we see the female figure in all of it’s beauty. Breasts are saggy, stomach rolls are bunched up, stretchmarks are on full display, pubic hair untamed and exposed, and thighs are dimpled with fatty cellulite.
Full of tender moments between mother and son, or groups of friends, her work is a strong counterpoint to the idealized and unrealistic female body images we are confronted with daily. She says about the subject:
Most women have issues and I’m not immune to that. We’re told that our bodies are supposed to be a ‘certain height, certain size, certain weight’. But the pictures we see are completely unrealistic; they’re very Photoshopped. We all know it when we look at them in magazines and yet, we still compare ourselves. That’s why we need images that show all sorts of bodies – so we can accept every size and shape. (Source)
Chapin paints women in a playful, relaxed, completely natural state. She tries to capture a childlike spirit, which is in all of us, no matter our age or gender. She says:
We generally care more what we look like – probably too much at times, me included. Young women are still trying to fit in. I think when you get older you care less –that’s not a negative thing at all. You’re just more accepting. When you get past a certain age you become invisible – and that’s a whole other problem. For me, it’s about finding beauty in every imperfection. (Source) (Via Hi Fructose)