Chad Wys is an artist, designer, and writer from Illinois. Inspired by postmodern thought, Wys’ works examine the reproduction of the image, and the way plural images—as superficial iterations of an original object—operate on us to suggest a sense of meaning and worth.
This theoretical approach is brilliantly exemplified in Wys’ Readymades series, featured here. The Readymades consist of found busts and ceramics that Wys has adorned with eye-popping colors, bold gradients, and silvery tears. By re-contextualizing objects of “antiquity” with garish, modern color schemes, Wys compels the viewer to contemplate their feelings and values in relation to such objects. He explains further on his website:
“By retooling the object and then re-presenting it for the viewer I intend to elaborate on the conversation that takes place between the observer and the reproduction in its ‘initial’ state. Through the reclamation and manipulation of these objects I mean to acknowledge, to underscore, that our possessions can, and often do, manipulate us.” (Source)
Wys observes how, as markers of class and income, art pieces and knickknacks signify arbitrary measures of personal worth. By “disfiguring” the cherished objects, Wys produces a visual, mental disparity that deconstructs their value; the clownish colors show the tenuousness of their “high status.” While subversive in intent, the finished Readymades are curious and beautiful art pieces in and of themselves, at once celebrating and critiquing contemporary art practices and embracing imperfection. The ultimate significance of the works, however, is the viewer’s cognitive responsibility; as Wys states, they are “meant to mean different things to different people who are at different stages of understanding” (Source).
Artist Noah Scalin has created a series of fantasized “anatomically correct” guns. Within his series Anatomy of War, the artist aims to humanize guns in order to depict gun violence as an even more sensitized and complex topic. He wants these pieces to provoke a discussion about the possibilities of violence if guns were “as fragile as the lives they can potentially take.”
Noah Scalin creates these “anatomically correct guns” with a mixture of polymer clay, acrylic and enamel. He has sculpted a handgun and an AK-47 from their own parts, literally making these machines from their own “guts.”These works act as tiny metaphors for the actual act of human choice within gun violence; as if the weapon is in fact a part of the human that uses it. These sculptures remind us that it is not the machine that commits an act of violence, but the brain that has decided to use it. These pieces take away the notion that a gun shoots someone, but in fact, a living thing does. He states “…too often the discussion around guns in America gets wrapped up in emotional terms around the 2nd Amendment. Anatomy of War brings the discussion back to the individual human level.” (via Lost at E Minor)
AnaHell is a photographer who portrays the body in ways that change the way we perceive it. Playing with unusual angles and wigs (see the My Little Phony series, for example), normative representations of bodies are broken down, resulting in images that are playful and often unsettling.
Featured here is a series titled Secret Friends, wherein AnaHell manipulates the appearance of bodies to create unique “creatures.” Each photo depicts people bent double with faces drawn on their backs, the subjects’ spines and ribs creating freakish contours. Adorned with hair and clothing and standing in ordinary rooms, they resemble domestic gremlins with a dual ability of charming and disturbing their viewers.
The following project statement explains—in fairly ambiguous terms—AnaHell’s approach and process:
“With a childlike fascination for rawness, flesh, and the absurd, photographer AnaHell plays with the ordinary and deconstructs it to reveal another perspective. She takes advantage of her immediate surroundings, often photographing close friends and family members in their own living spaces. Secret Friends are playmates, reflections, and villains—strange and wonderful creatures from another world, the kind that children create when they’re alone.”
Artist Sasha Ira draws stunning portraits of youthful and carefree depictions women. Her collection of work almost acts like an invitation into her sketch book; each drawing exists in a beautifully allusive state, provoking dreamlike moments and open ended thinking. Her work depicts ethereal renderings of young women surrounded by flora and fauna, decorative hints of cloth, and open, fluid strokes of what lies behind. Her style nods to both Art Nouveau, fashion illustration and Japanese anime styles, giving her images a contemporary, fun and youthful feeling. Her work shows a clear influence of Symbolist artists such as Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele (who took their inspiration from Japanese art). There is a very innocent vibe to this work. As if the viewer is given a look into a fantasy of a teenage girl. These drawings are captivating and charming. They give just enough information and intense draftsmen that leaves the viewer intrigued wanting for more, as if having his or her own gleeful trance into a moments past. They are reminiscent of a very adolescent state of mind, having an aloof aura to each one. Ira has created a beautiful series of drawings which truly get in touch with a feminine and whimsical essence, tugging at a spectrum of the freedom of adolescent bliss.
Canadian artist Shary Boyle’s beautiful sculptures know no bounds. Her physically delicate yet intrinsically powerful ceramic pieces push boundaries of the real, stretching seemingly ordinary moments into fantastical satire of historic dark realities. Her work explores the complexity of power dynamics, addressing a vast array of social structures including gender politics, colonialism, and exoticism. Her work exists in a state of quiet conflict; it is fragile, precious, and plays on notions of traditionalist elegant aesthetics, while simultaneously delivering sharp intellectual puns that are clever, sophisticated, and some how, even through the visual distortion, perfectly intellectually exact. For example, her piece Family (2010) features a pilgrim man and woman sitting by a fire made up of a totem pole reminiscent pile of a decapitated heads.
Along side her ceramic sculpture practice, Boyle is also prolific artist in a endless variety of media spanning painting, performance, and film, to name a few. The artist also does beautiful “live drawing” collaborations with musicians. She has worked with artists such as Feist, Peaches, and Christine Fellows.
Shary Boyle has won various awards including The Hnatyshyn Foundation Award and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize. She has shown her work at prestigious institutions such as the Centre Ppmpidou, The National Gallery of Canada, and The Art Gallery of Ontario. She exhibited at the 2010 Canadian Biennial as well as the 2013 Venice Biennale.
Toshihiko Mitsuya is artist who undoubtedly proves that it’s not the quality of materials that creates great art—it’s the way those materials are used. Mitsuya’s medium of choice is aluminum foil, which he cuts, shreds, and folds into astounding representations of medieval battles, mythical creatures, and undead warriors. Taking advantage of the foil’s malleability and reflective surface, the armor and weaponry look deadly; conversely, it also has been manipulated to convey the softness of feathers and hair. Mitsuya has brought to life an everyday, ordinary material that is often viewed as trash. In some of his installations, he has created epic battle scenes in ordinary rooms, so lifelike that you can almost hear the crash of miniature weapons. The foil, while appearing deceivingly formidable, represents the fragility of life.
In September of last year, Mitsuya participated in an exhibition at Studio Picknick in Berlin. Titled The Aluminum Garden, the show involved rooms full of plants made out of aluminum foil; Mitsuya turned a material that was born in a factory back into the semblance of an earthly organism. You can read more about the exhibition here, and learn more about Mitsuya on his website. (Via Booooooom)
In her exhibition “Black Fairy Egg Nest,” Julia Sinelnikova asks us if fairies are good or bad. Experienced as a ritual site with candles and stones, “Black Fairy Egg Nest” feels like a secret den where winged creatures could emerge at any moment. The primary piece hovering overhead is a nest of hand cut resin light sculptures dripping into the exhibition space. A pregnant mass leaks thin glowing strands and dark stones dangle towards the ground below.
But while there is a medieval and religious feel to the work, Sinelnikova is more broadly concerned with the distinction between who we are and how we present ourselves to the world. Her use of a fairy as the icon of the work symbolizes the contradictions inherent in our identities. As Sinelnikova points out in her artist statement, fairies are represented as both benevolent creatures who grant wishes and tricksters who can thwart even the most noble of plans. In this way fairies seem to be like us, flying between the light and the dark.
“Black Fairy Nest Egg” is part of Sinelnikova’s larger “Fairy Organs” work and includes sculpture, video and performance. “Conjuring Rebirth,” performed by Sinelnikova aka The Oracle and Xenolith Yolita aka Culttastic uses the glowing, dangling sculptures as a location for mystical curiosity, acquiescence and frustration. “Meditation on Suffering” centers around a glowing square where multiple women decked in shimmering foil move in concert with whispering voices in a neon lit disco. “Sentinel Seraphim” moves the multiplied women out of the geometric world of “Meditation” and into nature where the foil then takes on the likeness of wings.
Julia Sinelnikova is an artist and curator working in New York City. She has had solo exhibitions in Brooklyn, Austin, Houston, Barcelona, and Oulu (Finland). She recently curated “LEMNIVERSE: Vector Gallery at Art Basel” at SELECT Fair, Miami Beach and “Seeking Space 2014” at the Active Space, Brooklyn.
London based company Dot One takes product customization to the next level. The company, named after the 0.1 percent of a genetic sequence that makes each human unique, uses your DNA samples to create one of a kind products (such as scarves and prints) from the very part of your genome that makes you distinct. The company requires a simple cheek swab DNA test (the type made popular by direct-to-consumer personal genome tests such as 23andMe). Dot One then outsources the lab testing to AlphaBioLabs, where they extract, identify, and use DNA profiling to distinguish the desired portion of the code. AlphaBioLabs does this by creating a genetic finger print through scanning for Short Tandem Repeats (STRs), which are tiny bits of genetic code that are different for every person (except identical twins, of course). Once Dot One has the genetic finger print, they use an algorithm to translate these codes into a color, resulting in a pattern that is personalized to your specific DNA. These patterns are designed to imitate what a DNA sample would look like in a genetic gel test in a lab. While these products are made through a high technological process, they are reminiscent to traditional weavings and folk art patterns. They possess a true quality of something warm and special. You can even get a Tartan, which is created from the DNA of two people, or get a poster of your family tree. Cute. (Via HYPERALLERGIC)