A young photographer named Mahdi Ehsaei has published a book of photographs depicting a little known minority in the Middle East. Afro-Iranians are a group of people descendent from slaves and traders who were brought over from Africa in the 8th century. These illicit transactions were conducted through slave markets in the region continuing through the 19th century. The demographic Ehsaei photographs is interesting because it represents a group mainly unknown in the Arab world.
In his new book Afro-IranEhsaei photographs beautiful children who in their smiles hold a link to their history but most likely are unfamiliar with how their ancestors initially arrived in the region they call home. Using youthful energy he creates a narrative focusing on the future set against a backdrop of the past since many are photographed close to the ocean which is how their ancestors first arrived. In others we see women dressed in traditional African garments, a sign mentioned in Ehsaei’s statement as a way to keep their African heritage alive. This is also true of the segment’s strong culture which is rich in music, dance, oral tradition and ritual.
Ehsaei is of German-Iranian descent and has completed photo essays on boxing, Iran and the nature of photography. He currently resides in Berlin.
New York-based artist Marco Gallotta uses paper cutting as a way to create intricate portraits that “portray people in their natural state.” A combination of linocuts, watercolor, and collages, the multilayered images feature frontal views of people who have decorative shapes masking their faces. Patterned flourishes, water-esque ripples, and clashing swirls appear front and center as they obscure any sort of realism and transform it into an abstract work of art.
Despite these different techniques and media, Gallotta brings them together in a harmonious way. Here, each layer seems to tell a different story. There’s often a photo beneath the artist’s hand cut work, but it’s what’s above it provides a conceptual look at who the subject is. It’s their essence, and these decorative adornments speaks to the complexities of who someone is – their perceived versus actual identity. (Via Lustik)
Utah photojournalist Trevor Christensen‘s latest photographic project Nude Portraits is not what it sounds like. He has come up with a clever twist on the usual relationship between photographer and subject and the normal practices of taking photographs. Toying with the idea of himself being naked, taking photos of people fully clothed, Christensen was intrigued by the idea enough to follow it through. He started out by taking snaps of his girlfriend in the kitchen while in the buff, and had continuing doubts about the direction he was going in. Feeling as if it was unnatural, or definitely not normal for a photographer to work in a state of undress, he pursued the activity further to see just what he could capture on the other side of the lens.
By creating a memorable experience for his subjects, he is able to record a variety of reactions and emotions, revealed only in this unique set up. People range from laughing awkwardly, to averting their eyes, to being quietly stern, mildly bemused, or completely unfazed. His project has turned out to be a comprehensive and interesting study into different individual’s and societies’ attitudes toward nudity, personal space and the borders between public and private.
Throughout the process Christensen is exposed and vulnerable, but sees it as a necessary tool to ease the tension between artist and muse, and to level the playing field – where everyone is just as nervous as each other. In one case he enters the domestic space of Kendal, a gay Mormon man and what follows is indeed interesting. For Christensen, he is very confronted by this particular photo and worries he is taking advantage of some one who is too uncomfortable with the situation.
He says his main aim is to show people something they have seen or experienced before, and is worth seeing again. He wants his models to go back to that place they were in during the portrait and to feel those same things once more. Check out more images on his Instagram account, and an interview with him here.
A smart new campaign launched on Earth Day (April 22) in Hong Kong has ambitious plans aimed at changing the littering epidemic the city is facing. Called ‘The Face of Litter’ and developed by The Hong Kong Cleanup, in partnership with Ecozine and The Nature Conservancy, it is a multi-media attempt to curve people’s messy habits. Groups of scientists have targeted certain areas around the city, and with the help of DNA phenotyping and specialized software, an image of the litter culprit is developed. Then by considering the type of litter found, and where in the city, an even more accurate description of the person and their demographic can be developed. The faces of the guilty litterbugs are then displayed around the city, in different bus stops, on billboards and on social media.
By publicly shaming people who drop their rubbish, The Hong Kong Cleanup hopes to drastically change their citizen’s habits. China and Indonesia are among the top polluters around the world, and now many people are acting to change this sooner rather than later.
95 per cent of marine refuse in Hong Kong comes from local sources, with over 80 per cent originating from land-based activities. Additionally, more than 70 per cent comprises plastic and foam plastic items. (Source)
Lisa Christensen, Founder and CEO of The Hong Kong Cleanup, says:
We are thrilled to be part of this innovative campaign, which is sure to have a positive impact on people and the community. Last year, during the six-week Hong Kong Cleanup Challenge, 418 teams comprising 51,064 participants, collected a total of 3,894,000 kilograms of litter from city streets, coastal area’s and country trails. Sadly, we suffer from a serious ‘pick up after me’ mentality, and this simply must change. (Source)
Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven are a Ukrainian photography duo also known as Synchrodogs whose surreal imagery frames the human body in odd-yet-intimate relations with the surrounding landscapes. This particular series, Reverie Sleep, takes this theme of the “strange natural” a bit further, drawing on the expansive and unearthly realms of lucid dreams. Made with the support of the Pinchuk Art Foundation in 2013, this project emerged from visions the artists experienced while wandering somewhere between sleep and awakening:
“[Reverie Sleep] deals with the stage of Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by [the] natural process of falling asleep. Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, [Synchrodogs] woke themselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what they had just seen, gathering their dreams to be staged afterwards.” (Source)
In order to recreate their dream imagery, Synchrodogs traveled to Iceland where they immersed themselves in dangerous and bleakly beautiful environments. As they explained in an interview with NYMag, they shot near “glaciers where you can fall into an ice hole and be found in a week, or in hot lakes where you can get boiled alive if there is a geyser which decides to eject hot water while you are in [it]” (Source). This earthly threat lends the images an impassive quality, just like the intangible lands we explore in our sleep while uncertain of what threats or joys await us.
Inhabiting Synchrodogs’ eerily sublime landscapes are female figures, nude or bedecked in colorful paints and surreal costumes. Bodies morph into ferns and fruit, or lie on cold earth and exalt in the light of an alien sun. Each figure is simultaneously human and inhuman, existing in a hallucinogenic, unquestioning state that dissolves and realigns our notions of reality. Shifting between forms and consciousness, they represent creatures of a limitless and symbolic universe.
Society has long had a fascination with dolls and the creepy connotations that come along with them, with such horror films as Child’s Play confirming our worst nightmares. Photographer Annie Collinge is no exception. Her own uncomfortable feeling associated with dolls has created a bizarre fascination inspiring her series 5 Inches From Limbo, which includes photographs of dolls with their human counterparts. Collinge find vintage, strange looking dolls in thrift shops and flea markets, and finds a person in the flesh that resembles the doll. She even dresses her humans to mirror their doll, creating a surreal vision of a person alongside their miniature, porcelain self. Eerie as it may sound, her photographs are relentlessly intriguing while still holding an odd beauty.
Originally hailing from London, the artist had traveled to Manhattan when she found her first doll for the series. The inspiration came when she spotted a vintage doll that boar a surprising likeness to her Aunt Yolanda, outfit and all. After this encounter, she searched for interesting, antique dolls or people that look somewhat like dolls themselves to start the next pairing. She will then find a doll to match her subject, or dress a person to fit the part. Either way, each chosen person displays a striking resemblance to each unique doll, with cherub faces and big round eyes. You may be wondering where all of the dolls end up after the photograph is taken. Well, although a little disturbed by them, the artist keeps each and every one. Dolls often seem to hold a life of their own, and with the help of Collinge, her dolls have now transformed into real life human beings, however unnerving it may be. (via Featureshoot)
French artist Debit de Beau creates gorgeous photo collages that seem to inhabit their own world. With wide skies dwarfing tiny inhabitants, Beau’s artwork seems both expansive and a little lonely.
Beau uses both illustration and textures, such cloth with raw edges, to liven up his collages. His landscapes meet at the intersection of the manmade and the natural world. A boy meets a whale just off a lighthouse’s shore, while a man walks his pet snail and considers a crossroads marked with all of life’s milestones: hope, loss, guilt, and success.
The emotional palette that Beau works with seems quite varied, his subjects by turn leaping joyfully off of a ferris wheel and pause, questioning a ladder that hangs from a lone window. The surreality of his collages aims to capture not a perfectly realistic scene but to cause emotional resonance, placing us in that person’s frame of mind. To climb or not to climb? Should I follow the snail? Or contemplate a quiet fall of rain? (via Optically Addicted)
Artist Maximo Reira fuses wild creatures with furniture in his series called Animal Chairs. The hulking, sculpted figures have a realistic styling to them, and beings like octopi, rhinos, whales, all have a place for someone to sit. Their backs have large notches cut into them, and they’re so regal looking they transcend ordinary chairs and are thrones.
Reira’s designs have textures that mimic the real epidermises of these creatures. There are tiny, intricate folds that look like dry, rough skin, and he’s covered them in a natural color palette. From a certain angle, they look as though they could be real. The artist has also kept their defining features, like long tentacles and massive horns. It’s an elegant, unique take on industrial design. (Via Hi Fructose)