Soulful Portraits Of Deceased Animals Laid Down To “Sleep”

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After the death of a dear friend, the photographer Emir Ozsahin was struck by the poignancy of life and grief, choosing to confront by creating heartbreaking images of deceased animals. In his series Pastel Deaths, he captures lifeless creatures in gentle tones, hoping to undo the fact of their tragic deaths with the naiveté of a child incapable of processing mortality: with the utmost innocence, he poses a dog beneath a blanket and offers the grey-nosed canine a book to read.

The series conveys this youthful optimism and poignant refusal to accept death with the use of tiny fixtures that could easily reside within a child’s dollhouse: a bed on which a bird might lay his beak, a straw nest for a guinea pig, a tiny, sudsy bathtub for another, darkly featured bird. The artist’s relentless striving to erase the fact of and his own personal knowledge of death is utterly heart wrenching; we follow him as he personifies each creature with a soft pair of miniature pajamas, a stuffed toy, or a pair of fallen glasses.

The juxtaposition of the dead with the artist’s infant-like insistence upon life results in a painfully intimate conversation with death and with each once-living being. Ozsahin’s subjects are so unflinchingly peaceful in their eternal slumber that the viewer must approach them only with utter care; the eye holds each for a moment like a tender newborn baby, then sets him down to rest. As viewers, we waver between acknowledging the facts and whispering to ourselves quietly, “No, look, he’s just sleeping.” While using once living creatures as subjects normally raises ethical flags for me, Ozsahin’s images read like Victorian post-mortem shots of humans, serving to tenderly and lovingly memorialize each creature. (via Feature Shoot)

Cyril Le Van’s Sculptures Created With Stitched Together Photographs

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Combining photography, sheets of plastic, and sewing, French artist Cyril Le Van reproduces life-size three-dimensional objects. They include small things, like a Polaroid camera, and large things, like a car. Le Van photographs his subjects from all angles then pieces them together using a blanket stitch. The result is something that’s a deflated, vaguely real version of something that already exists.

A portion of Le Van’s work focuses on consumerism. He reproduces expensive Nike shoes, Rolex watches, leather jackets, and more. These things are a status symbol for those who own and wear them, and his uncanny duplicates take power away from its branding.

Another facet of the artist’s sculptures are based on economic and cultural exclusion. Le Van photographed shanty towns and installed them in a gallery setting. His intention is that it challenges the viewer’s awareness of issues like poverty, and forces them to ask questions like, “what are these, and who uses them?” This, along with a car buried in luggage and a motorcycle weighed down by belongings, shows the transient nature of not having a permanent place to live.

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Gerd Ludwig Documents Chernobyl’s Lasting Legacy

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28 years ago, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion released radioactive particles into the atmosphere, spreading radiation over much of the western USSR and Europe. Over the past 20 years, photographer Gerd Ludwig has returned to Chernobyl several times in order to document the still-lasting impact of the disaster.

The first time Ludwig visited Chernobyl, in 1993, he was limited on the extent of the sites he could visit, but eventually got special permission from the police to be taxied around. During this trip, Ludwig met many elderly people who had decided to stay in their homes, ignoring radiation levels. Ludwig tells Slate, “At first Ukrainian officials discouraged them, branding them as illegal residents, but soon turned a blind eye, realizing that they preferred to die on their own contaminated soil instead of a broken heart in anonymous city suburbs.”

By 2005, the laws and regulations surrounding the exclusion zone loosened and Ludwig was able to tour Reactor No. 4, an area so contaminated that it could only be visited for a maximum of 15 minutes per day due to radiation levels. Ludwig says, “While photographing, I needed to dodge the spray of sparks from the drillers in highly contaminated concrete dust, and I knew that I had less than 15 minutes to capture impacting images of an environment that few have ever seen and that I might never access again. The adrenaline surge was extraordinary.”
In 2011, Ludwig returned to Chernobyl supported by Kickstarter donations. It was there, sitting with one of the people who handle cleanup and containment efforts, when he learned of the Fukushima nuclear plant explosion, prompting further consideration of the disastrous consequences of nuclear power sources. During his most recent visit last year, Ludwig was able to document the emerging New Safe Confinement, an advanced dome that will protect the reactor from further deterioration as robots begin to dismantle and decontanimate the area.
Ludwig continues his work documenting changes and lasting effects of the Chernobyl disaster, and is currently raising money on Kickstarter to help fund a high-quality book called “The Long Shadow of Chernobyl” featuring his photo documentation. Ludwig hopes that continued documentation of Chernobyl will help spread more awareness of the dangers of nuclear energy. (via slate)

Artists Turn Giant Trees In The Forest Into Humorous Watchful Faces

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Dear Human is the artistic partnership between Jasna Sokolovic and Noel O’Connell.  After meeting at a residency in Denmark the two began collaborating.  Their work is based on common beliefs the two share and each project incorporates their respective strengths.  Noel has material expertise and pays attention to detail where Jasna possesses great improvisational sensibility and an explorative nature.

Together their work draws inspiration from different environments.  They appreciate places and spaces that allow them to experiment with materials, as well as other people, such as designers, architects and artists.  Often their projects offer an alternative perception to overlooked everyday landscapes by revealing the hidden potential of places and objects.  Ultimately they hope to inspire consciousness and curiosity.

The Sentinels were one such project.  In part of the forest the duo regularly visits there used to be a grove of grand Douglas firs.  Over a century ago they were cut down.  At the time the technique to cut such giant trees was to chop wedges into them and embed horizontal planks to stand on, so the lumbar jacks could cut above the root line.  Now the remains resemble empty eye sockets that, as the duo says, “longed for an intervention.”  Inserting porcelain eyes into the slots the Sentinels were born and they silently keep watch over the forest.

Celebrity Nipple Slips Turned Into Probing Works Of Art

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The now-infamous Playboy image later re-appropriated by Shinji

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For his project “Nipple,” the multimedia artist Shinji Murakami approaches female eroticism in an unexpected way, creating 8-bit images from photographs of Janet Jackson’s Superbowl “nip-slip,” Paris Hilton’s breast-baring bikini, and Kim Kardashian’s Playboy images. In constructing the pixilated images, the artist focuses solely on a tiny square area of each celebrity’s nipple.

In bringing the erogenous zone into the digital age, Shinji paradoxically desexualizes this part of the female body; while the original images are intended to be or considered to arousing, the blown-up nipple’s abstract, geometric pixel patterns inspire no erotic response. In this way, the work might be seen as a brutal reminder that, try as it might, digital media cannot stand in for true sexual intimacy.

Or perhaps “Nipple” is an unsettling prophecy: as we rely more upon technology, this series represents a more modern “sexy.” Erotic images of women’s bodies are becoming more accessible and more mass-produced; the video game industry, whose advanced technology serves as Shinji’s inspiration, has been criticized for its objectification of women. “Nipple” is that idea taken to the extreme; in these works, these female subjects are reduced to a single body part, and in turn, that body part is pixelated and transformed into an utterly dehumanized abstraction.

That is not to say that the images don’t contain beauty; in fact, the simplicity of their geometric form spotlights lovely hues. Each woman’s flesh becomes a digital tapestry of unexpected color variances. Like a modern take on the work of French Impressionists, “Nipple” precisely examines and deconstructs its subjects into tiny sections; here, in the place of a heavy brushstroke, is a pixel. What do you think of this conceptual take on the cultural connotations of the female body? Is it offensive or refreshing?

Take a look at more of Shinji’s brilliant and fun pixilated, video game-inspired work below! (via Spoon & TamagoShinji Murakami, and Game Scenes)

Kim Keever’s Stunning Photographs Turn Water Into Psychedelic Smoke

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New York-based artist Kim Keever creates these abstract compositions by experimenting with colorful tinted paints and water. As a former thermal engineer for NASA projects, Keever tends to veer his work towards the scientific and experimental.

The beautiful, luscious and colorful forms are produced by the mixing and mingling of various amounts of color drops into water; as part of the process, the scientist-turned-artist documents the swirling liquids in hopes that something visually stunning happens in the midst of the experiment. Keever uses an enormous 200-gallon fish tank as the setting for much of his work; it, offers plenty of space and possibility for these stunning and unpredictable reactions to emerge.

These abstract formations are similar to Kevin Cooley’s Controlled Burns, a series of images that also explores the formations and movements of organic materials; although in his case the artist experiments with smoke and fire- which primarily leaves us with more natural color palette. While filled with bright, artificial hues, Keever’s creations still evoke images of breathtaking natural phenomena and earthy material (i.e quartz gemstones, stones, precious mineral stones, ocean tides,etc). (via My Modern Met)

Lauren Roche’s Visceral, Evocative, And Singular Paintings

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lauren-2 figures and an animal_4_770In Lauren Roche‘s paintings, like the best portraiture, there exists a story found in discrepant details. Amidst heavily applied broad stroke of paint and drips, black dots appear to be lactating from human and animals, insinuating teets as opposed to breasts. Teeth are bared in grinless maws not typically associated with people or their pets. And yet there exists an honest and humble beauty in Roche’s rendering of her subjects. Explaining that many subjects are taken from faces of friends and pets, as well as old photographs used for reference, the Minneapolis-based artist adds,

“The figures in my images are facets of my subconscious and take action in a pictorial language and don’t transfer into names for me. I like to leave the interpretation of personality up to the viewer, because that’s what I do.”

Roche’s paintings possess a rawness that cannot be denied, balanced in equal measure by a deft rendering of facial expressions. Perhaps the beauty of these paintings comes from their singular nature, and their anachronistic charm, evocative of a different era of capturing images. When asked the purpose of a focus on portraiture, particularly in an uploadable Digital Age, Roche responds,

“The purpose of portraiture is to give the maker and viewer the space for an interpretation of the subject that is private and flexible, fluid and idiosyncratic. Its difficult to compare portraiture to a cell phone picture because the process is so different. Drawing portraits is like a form of meditation and reflection for me and taking a cell phone picture feels more like a superficial gesture to prove that I’m enjoying myself.”

Roche’s work will be featured in the upcoming Two Dark Horses at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis, MN, alongside Andrew Mazorol and Tynan Kerr (who when painting collectively go by AMTKpreviously featured here) and Lindsay Rhyner. The exhibition, named after one of Roche’s paintings (top of page) opens this Friday, March 21st and runs through April 26th, 2014.

Street Artist “Don’t Fret” Is Bringing Comedy Into The Streets

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Chicago-based street artist Don’t Fret is plastering New York with his wit and wisdom. Producing relatively simple images and text posters, he uses wheat paste to adhere them to walls and mailboxes They live among the torn down flyers and spray-painted graffiti adn look inconspicuous until you really stop to look at them.

Don’t Fret’s humor is observational, and sometimes silly. “Live by the sword. Die by your peanut allergy,” and “Polly saw you commit adultery” are both easy to “get” and amusing for the passerby. All images copyright of Jaime Rojo. (Via Huffington Post)