Sara Angelucci’s intriguing series titled Aviary recalls the past to create strange portraits of birds that are superimposed onto anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite (small, business card sized) photographs. It began by the artist studying the American Victoria area, and she connects its cultural, social, and ecological aspects conceptually to her work.
The nineteenth century was the United States’ colonial era when there was unprecedented expansion, exploration, and an interest in science and art. Family photo albums and commemorating memories were something new, as photography became increasingly common. The collection of cartes-de-visites were like trading cards, and the urge to collect didn’t stop there. People had cabinets of curiosities that included things like taxidermied birds, an interest that lead to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Angelucci explains in a statement about the work, writing, “Made by combining photographs of endangered or extinct North American birds with anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite portraits—they portray creatures about to become ghosts.”
She goes on to muse:
So how do we read these strange human-birdlike creatures? One could at once see them as manifestations of their time: a hybrid crossover of faith in science with a belief in otherworldly beings. As W. G. Sebald writes in Campo Santo, “[photography is] in essence, after all…nothing but a way of making ghostly apparitions materialize by means of a very dubious magical art.” And, what would it mean to embody another creature: Could one then see, feel, and understand its desire to live? Might we then imagine the Aviary portraits as chimera suspended in a state of empathy, and wonder what our treatment of other sentient beings might be if we could feel what they feel, or see what they see? (Via Observer: Design Observer)
Clowns can be…unsettling but however you feel about clowns, Kyoko Hamada‘s photo series called ‘Clown Care Unit’ is fascinating. In partnership with a hospital’s medical staff, these professional performers work one-on-one with acutely and chronically ill children, their parents and hospital staff to help ease the stress of illness by reintroducing laughter and fun as natural parts of everyday life.
Artist Pawel Bajew is a master of contorting the body and creating an oddly beautiful scene constructed from simple objects. In his series titled Freaks, the photographer creates surreal images of seemingly mutated bodies and disembodied limbs. However, disfigured his figures may appear, this effect is created mainly through simple minimal objects under the clothing or strangely placed props covering identifying parts of the body like the face or limbs. His cleverly placed mannequin parts and wigs form surreal scenes, some filled with isolation, others with humor. Each strange situation is not unlike a film still; holding dramatic poses and staged lighting. His figures seem tormented in some way, with the bodies twisting and bending in abnormal ways. The faces are often hidden in this series, distorting the identity of the person and causing an eerie, psychological effect on the viewer.
This intriguing, Polish-based photographer also captures amazing portraits full of detail and originality. His portraits are filled with self-portraits as well as others, embodying an eclectic group of eccentric individuals. Each subject seems like a fictional character, filled with exaggerated expressions and over the top costumes straight out of a novel. Bajew’s portraits are not without humor, as some figures have funny expressions, but also have a darkness about them, just like his series Freaks. His body of work as a whole personifies a distinct mood and peculiar atmosphere about it that leaves it distinguishable and unique.
Debra Broz, a ceramic artist in Los Angeles, has a dedication to manipulating the conventional ceramic animals used and loved for kitschy home decor. Through her art surgery, she forms nearly mythical renditions of hybrid-animals. Although they still look cute, there is something inherently off and relatively creepy about them. Starting by sourcing and finding old ceramic pieces she is attracted to, Broz then re-assembles and grafts parts and pieces of different ceramic sculptures together. Arms, legs, multiple heads- she tries it all. The doe-eyed Franken-furries still contain an element of innocent, their new freakishness framed with such subtlety that it is nearly camouflaged; for many viewers it takes a second glance to even notice that something is amiss within the structure and proportion.
Broz eloquently articulates her work in an interview, “The thing is, it all depends on perception. Though kitsch may act as if it is the antithesis of fine art, if you start trying to analyze it you run into many of the same complex issues you would if you were analyzing fine art. Personally, I enjoy the intellectual play that is part of analyzing objects. It seems funny to me that people desire to take content away from things rather than explore it. Part of what makes the world interesting is how complex it is, and I’d rather have the complexity, with all its difficulty, than a watered-down, idealized and simplified version. That is part of why I’m interested in kitsch. If you really start looking into it, it is just laden with references.” (Excerpt from Source)
Luis is the 2nd short video of the series “Lucía, Luis y el lobo” (”Lucía, Luis and the Wolf”). The video was shot frame by frame with a digital photo camera. Materials: charcoal, dirt, flowers, found objects and cardboard.
Los Angeles based photographer Jordana Sheara makes lovely work, both personal and commissioned. With an inclination towards fashion photography, Sheara creates two distinct worlds in each of her photographs; the illuminated and the shadowed, lending instant drama to her photos. Her subjects always have a beauty about them, even right after waking up, when all you really care about is that first cigarette of the day.
Taking every day industrial objects as his starting point artist Steven Montgomery turns nuts and bolts into huge sculptural forms. Not only are they built on a scale much larger than their original size but instead of metal he uses ceramic to achieve highly detailed forms. By taking these objects and turning them into art Montgomery is able to record the evolution of society through the physical structures which hold it all together. His forms range from relief painting to monumental sculpture and impact the viewer with both bright and muted hues. His use of an unconventional material such as ceramic to complete his process allows for illusory aspects to filter in. These highlight nuances which might be lost using other materials. The glazed aspects of ceramic give it a beautiful surface which lend an aesthetic which would probably be lost if another was used. His infinitely accurate attention to detail almost make it hard to believe these are made from the porous material and despite the subject matter have the same precious beauty as porcelain Chinese drums and figures.
In the purest sense, art should record the present time in which we live, Montgomery follows this path focusing on the internal infrastructure of society to achieve this goal. His work gives credence to the inanimate objects which helped shaped our culture recording the times in which we currently live.