Was your high school experience as glitzy as the one in photographer Akasha Rabut’s series Edna Karr? (The title comes from the school in New Orleans where the documentary-style photographs were taken.) We see cheerleaders, the dance team, and marching band getting ready to perform in these quiet behind-the-scene shots . Girls are applying their makeup, fixing hair, and sitting idly before they hit the city streets of a parade and come alive.
The series is a balance of high and low energy. As people kill time on their phones the scene is still. But when the kids are moving, Rabut captures the spirit of the performance, with sequins gleaming. The faded, low-saturation image are reminiscent of vintage photographs, and if it weren’t for the cell phones, we might just believe it. This plays to a sense of odd nostalgia for high school, a time when many of us wanted to feel grown up but just weren’t quite there. It was activities like the band or dancing that helped define the experience, and is a symbol of a relatively simpler time. (Via It’s Nice That)
On Saturday, Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi was arrested for the crime of distributing indecent material. And what did she distribute, exactly? Digital data that represents 3D modeling information of her vagina. After raising around $10,000 via her crowd-sourcing campaign, Igarashi was able to complete the construction of her planned vaginal-shaped kayak. As part of the campaign, donors were promised the digital file from which Igarashi was able to complete her design – it is for sending these files that Igarashi was arrested, and faces up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. If you thought sexist double standards were beyond apparent here in the States, then let me direct you to Japan’s incredible double standards, most strongly evidenced by the celebration of penises in an annual penis festival and their stance on most international pornography standards. Known by the pseudonym rokudenashi-ko ( “good-for-nothing kid”), 42-year-old Igarashi began working with 3D models of her vagina as a response to the shame and ignorance she felt about her own genitalia.
From her web site: “I make art pieces with my vagina, which I would rather call Manko(MK). I thought it was just funny to decorate my vagina and make into a diorama, but I was very surprised to see how upset people get when they see my works or even hear me say the word Manko. Even when a TV station asked me to be on their show, they wouldn’t dare let me say DECO-MAN because “MAN” is from the taboo word “Manko”. Why did I start making these kind of art pieces? It’s because I had never seen the vagina of others and I was too self-conscious of mine. I did not know what a vagina should look like at the same time, so I thought mine was abnormal. Manko and vagina, have been such a taboo in Japanese society. Penis, on the other hand, has been used in illustrations and has become a part of pop culture. But vagina has never been so cute. Vagina has been thought to be obscene because its been overly hidden; although it is just a part of a woman’s body.”
There is a petition circulating advocating for Igarashi’s release that has already collected almost 19,000 signatures. You can watch her crowd-sourcing campaign video here. (via guardian and spoon & tamago)
David Skazaly is a Hungarian/German graphic designer who has been creating hypnotic, mind-warping GIFs since 2008. Working under the name Davidope, Skazaly’s psychedelic GIFs and warped images have set the standard for animated GIFs across the internet. Even if you haven’t heard his name before (or his online pseudonym, Davidope), you probably recognize some of Skazaly’s technicolor, organic forms, pulsing in infinite loops, whether on art blogs or the annals of Tumblr. Skazaly’s animations are strangely hypnotic and entrancing, pushing a format that is now primarily used for cat memes and celebrity reactions into successful, technically adept artistic territory.
Skazaly got his start experimenting with animation program Macromedia Flash in the 90s before focusing on his own motion graphics. Looking at his Tumblr now, it’s clear Skazaly has mastered the art form of creating technically perfect GIFs, from trippy, twisting shapes to black and white worms perpetually moving forward. Skazaly’s mind-bending GIFs are dizzying, satisfying works of art, elevating a now common internet trend to a mesmerizing new level.
Photographer SD Holman uses her talent as a portrait photographer to capture women who fall outside of the traditional gender binary. In her series “BUTCH: Not Like the Other Girls,” masculine women are not oddity or other. These are photos of women who identify as butch captured by a butch woman—they are women defining themselves. In this way, Butch has much in common with the current social campaigns stripping women of makeup, enhancements, and retouching and declaring them more beautiful without the artifice. This is part of Holman’s intent with the show—to use the Butch identity as an example of one of the classifications through which women are objectified. The difference though is the hate and fear that Butch women have faced as transgressors of societal constructs of femininity. Holman says:
“Butches and all gender variant folk walk in a world that is really hostile to them, so we tend to look inward. I was inspired to show their beauty by my wife Catherine, a femme who loved butches, and encouraged me to do this when I started talking about it.”
The rich diversity of butch women is evidenced here. Just as there isn’t one way to be a woman, Butch includes women of all shapes and colors and styles. The fluidity of gender is apparent in each photo.
Holman is an artist. Her portraits are classically beautiful, with their artful lighting and dramatic contrasts. The subjects mostly gaze through the lens to the viewer, unapologetic and authentic. There is no contrivance in these images, no sense of willful provocation nor is there any sense of apology. Author Amy Bloom writes, “Intimacy is being seen and known as the person you truly are.” These photos are intimate and groundbreaking, brave and matter-of-fact, beautiful and handsome.
Kim Burke’s miniature food sculptures are so realistic you’ll want to eat them in one bite. Inspired by the photorealist movement, Burke creates flawless dollhouse-scale meals from actual photographs, positioned at various angles for maximum accuracy. Each plate of food, so small as to be balanced on a human fingertip, is carefully rendered from clay using needles, razor blades, and a rock for texture. Chalk pastels add color. For cake frosting, Burke uses Translucent Liquid Sculpey mixed with solid clay. The artist’s company, Fairchild Art, offers a range of plates, from sweet to savory dishes, each at a 1:12 scale.
Burke’s passion for dollhouse accessories began as a hobby in 2008, but soon blossomed into what she calls an “obsession.” The work is painstaking and each piece typically requires one to three hours of full concentration, but the result is well worth it. She says of her process, “every time I make something new I always try to add something extra to make it even look more real.”
Decadent and indulgent, Burke’s tiny masterpieces combine the sensuousness of a Caravaggio painting with the whimsy of childhood play. Like Caravaggio’s Still Life with Fruit, each piece is entirely inedible yet invites a mouthwatering appetite. Burke’s delicate fruit baskets emerge like Eden’s forbidden fruit in miniature, igniting the imagination and uninhibited delight. Poignantly small, they remind us of the preciousness of our humanity. When seen on a plate the size of a penny, the most familiar food stuffs become miraculous and spellbinding. Made with tender love and care, the diminutive plates suggest our own fragilities and vulnerabilities. Take a look. (via Demilked)
Dutch photographers Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm depict both sexes simultaneously in a series entitled Best of Both. It appears in Baron magazine for their The Future of Sex issue. The images feature nude male and female figures posed in different yoga-esque positions on the same gray carpet, with one half a man and the other a woman. Bodies are twisted matched up perfectly to create one whole person.
The combination borders on ordinary and strange. On one hand, these figures are nude, which is nothing new; we’ve seen it throughout our lives and plenty of times within the context of art history. But, at the same time, its creates a person whose extreme twists and distorted views (we see the butt attached to the front of a chest) immediately reads as something amiss. It subverts any sort of preconceived notions we have of the individual in a simple but effective manner. (Via It’s Nice That)
For Brazilian artist Fábio Magalhães’ hyperrealist oil paintings, the more grotesque the better. Using gruesome body horror imagery such as hacked up, barely identifiable body parts and suffocated faces in plastic bags, Magalhães’ work is as incisive as it is skillfully rendered. The breaking down of recognizably human appendages and entrails into chopped up, stomach churning chunks is purposefully reminiscent of a real-life counterpart: that of animal cruelty. Although we’re accustomed to seeing animals deconstructed into bright, vacuum-sealed packages of meat every time we go to a supermarket, it’s only when faced with the sickening sight of what our own bodies would look like if sold in similar plastic bags that truth of the cruelty behind the meat industry becomes stunningly clear. Magalhães’ paintings are nightmarish in portrayal, and certainly something you’d never want to see in real life, but when put to canvas are strong, provocative, and memorable works. Magalhães studied at the Federal University of Bahia in the city of Salvador, where he is currently based. (via Illusion)
Petra Collins takes photos of her friends in cut-offs and puts neon Rihanna lyrics on gallery walls. It’s up for interpretation whether you see that as a form of feminism. She is a self-described feminist and walks the line somewhere between fashion and art culture. Not an uncommon thing to do, but certainly a path less easily tread by women artists addressing subjects that the fashion industry influences heavily and arguably negatively (…expectations of femininity and the female figure).
Petra’s practice sets out to embrace her own vision of what is beautiful, young and female. Conveniently, she is thin and (un)conventionally beautiful, but she has a point. There’s a definite irony in one woman telling another that what she does is somehow shameful or misrepresents the female gender. It’s slippery territory because one might wonder why Petra feels such affinity with this aesthetic. Is it because she was brought up on it, and what are the implications of that?
In 2013, Instagram deleted her profile for this picture after which she wrote an essay posted by Oyster Mag and the Huffington Post that you can read here on her website. Basically, She doesn’t want you to tell her what she can do with her body, whether you see it as feminist or not. Petra’s work is powerful, and yes, it makes young women and girls look sexy. The Teenage Gaze is a photo series from 2013 mostly of girls in highschool, bathrooms, with water, or applying makeup. It’s erotic and beautiful, delicate and girly in the most stereotypical sense. It defends the right to be as you wish as a woman, whether you fit neatly within or totally outside the box of preconceptions. See Petra’s most recent work on her Instagram feed (looks like she’s been too busy making art to update her website).