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An Imaginary Ferocious Tale Of Brave And Hopeful Little Girls Is The Magnificent Story Of Author Henry Darger

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Henry Darger - Paintings - 9

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Henri Darger left 15,000 pages of stories and more than 700 pages of illustrations created in the dark. A fantasy tale blending horrific scenes of war and colorful innocent boys and girls all drawn with penises as the main characters. A world full of meanings and feelings where the silver lining is survival.

In order to understand the illustrations painted by Henry Darger, we need to understand his story. His mother died while giving birth and his father sent him to an asylum where he was allegedly abused at an early age and from where he escaped at age sixteen. He spent the rest of his life working at Catholic institutions by day, secluded in his room by night where he would secretly enter his imaginary make-believe world, a pen in his hand. A self-taught man, he learned how to draw by collecting advertisements, newspaper illustrations. He made collages, layering and tracing the outlines of his precious characters. 

The interpretation of the drawings, lets us inside of Henry Darger’s inner turmoil. The heroines are the Vivian girls, blond cute little girls defying furiously and heroically adults, the Glandelinians. They appear dressed up with colorful outfits or naked with a penis. They lead armies, hide, and spy on their opponents; crossing fields of strangled, disemboweled and dismembered children’s corpses.
Suffocation and awkwardness emerges from the scenes and let us feel a glimpse of the strong harsh almost cruel and unbearable emotional state the author endured.

Henry Darger says in his autobiography, In the Realms of the Unreal that he hated the perspective to watch himself become an adult. He never wanted to to grow up. The chaos of his narrative, combined with his violent drawings all turned against adults are the terrifying trace of his past. Never able to recover, he chose to shut down this part of his spirit to any kind of other human beings only to let it come to life as pure art.
He demonstrates the powerful reason to be of art: to express with any kind of means the distress trapped in a human’s soul into something beautiful.

Henry Darger’s illustrations are currently shown at Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris until October 2015.
© Eric Emo / Musée d’Art Moderne / Roger-Viollet

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Nina Berman Documents The Ferocity Of Consumption At Eating Contests

Blueberry pie,  Warwick NY

Erik Booker takes a breath from the Major League Chili Eating competition in Orlando Florida. The challenge was how many 32 oz bowls could a person eat in 6 minutes.   Joey Chestnut won with  8 and 3/4 bowls  -  2.125 gallons in 6 minutes

Blueberry pie,  Warwick NY

Coconut Cream Pie,  Queens, NY

Documentary photographer Nina Berman’s recent “Eat To Win” series is not for the faint hearted. Through her observation of eating competitions across the United States, she documents what she calls “the ferocity of consumption” and delves into the notions of frenzy and excess while depicting food as more than a necessary part of human survival. In these competitions, food becomes a source of competition, not in a necessary sense, but for entertainment. The series is comprised of close up of contestants, with their faces covered in food and savage expressions on their faces.

The competitions themselves unfold within 2 to 6 minutes, which underlines the way in which time is the most vital element of the competition. Berman’s photographs are interesting in the sense that she has chosen not to document the end result of the competition but the competition process in itself. This has resulted in a series full of intense facial expressions, a loss of manners and a visceral illustration of unbridled humanity.

Berman’s high definition close up allow you to step inside the world of eating competitions in an almost tangible manner, that brings you quite literally, face to face with the more disgusting side of being a human. She brings you into a high contrast world of overconsumption and excess and does not stray away from the greasy details. She places eating competitions at the junction of pleasure and pain, and by doing so establishes a subtle and somewhat humoristic critique of consumer society at its peak.

Photographs by Nina Berman/NOOR

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Complex Lace Graffiti Adds A Touch Of Harmony And Femininity To Urban Spaces

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Artist Nespoon, based in Warsaw, knows how to make people smile and forget, just for a second their worries. Random streets, abandoned spaces and tree trunks is where the artist chooses to install her intricate lace patterns, taking street art to another level. She stencils sidewalks, sprays signposts and hangs handmade crochet with no other intention than to create a surprise for the streetwalkers.

She calls her art “public jewelry”. Her devotion to making the streets look prettier is poignant. The lace patterns she uses are traditional, bold and extremely detailed for their sizes. She is inspired by textiles and makes sure to outsource local suppliers. The geometric and airy patterns generate harmony. Just what a busy jungle city needs: peace and beauty. By adding a touch of femininity to urban spaces, the city becomes lively and vibrant.

Lace has a special meaning for Nespoon. It has a history that speaks to the majority, mostly women. As for centuries, women were the only one crocheting, leaving a heavy heritage that can be now counterbalanced to their own benefits. They can recognize in the artist’s work a familiarity, a deja-vu and embrace the installations. (via Behance).

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Grégory Chatonsky Creates An Endless Mountain Range Of Kim Kardashian’s Face That Critiques Meaninglessness In Social Media

Grégory Chatonsky, Perfect Skin II — Digital artGrégory Chatonsky, Perfect Skin II — Digital artGrégory Chatonsky, Perfect Skin II — Digital art

The psychological effects of social media—seductive vortexes that they are—are well discussed. Every day, we are saturated with idealized bodies and enviable lifestyles—unreasonable standards of happiness and fulfillment that are based purely on constructed images. Seeking to criticize this culture of obsession and apparent emptiness, French artist Grégory Chatonsky has created a bizarre amalgam of Kim Kardashian’s face featuring more than 51,000 photos of her tagged on Instagram. Using a software program he designed using Unity3d, images of Kim K’s face are pulled and generated into a sea of amassed and distorted flesh. The effect is overwhelming and somewhat nauseating; facial features sink, expand, liquefy, and solidify like crushed and melted Barbie dolls. Chatonsky has literally transformed the celebrity’s face into an endless, empty landscape.

This project comes at a funny time, with Kim K’s book of never-before-seen photos, entitled Selfish, hitting the shelves last May. Chatonsky’s choice of her face is rooted in a blunt criticism, as he views her image as the benchmark of meaninglessness in the self-serving application of social media: “She has no talent, she has nothing exceptional, she is none other than our own design, that is to say the way she [is] represented to us,” he told The Creator’s Project. “It is simply an extended skin, everything is on the surface. There is nothing to look behind” (Source). Terrifyingly, the digital collage continues to grow and morph on its own. With intensity, humor, and a heavy dose of dizzying insanity, Perfect Skin II jabs us with a postmodern critique that visually demonstrates how the image—while highly valued in our digital culture—is a flat, empty simulacrum empowered by obsession and replicated beyond meaning or logic.

Check out Chatonsky’s website to view other fascinating and speculative projects, such as a contemplation on the photograph as a desperate—but finite—imprint of our times on Earth, and the discovery of the data humans will leave behind post-apocalypse. This latter project, entitled Extinct Memories, is made in collaboration with Dominique SiroisChristophe Charles, and Jussi Parikka and will be opening at Brussel’s Interactive Media Art Laboratory in September of this year. (Via The Creators Project)

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Tisha Cherry Forms Miniature Masterpieces Out Of Oreos And Icing

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Food artist Tisha Cherry takes iconic masterpieces of incredible artists and makes them even sweeter. By using just different colored icing and black or white Oreo cookies, Cherry replicates the work of such artists as Henry Matisse and Frida Kahlo on the inside of the treat. Creating art on a small scale is a difficult task in itself, but to use icing as your medium adds a whole different level of complexity. Cherry even forms a little painting palette out of delicious dessert elements to go along with her cookie creations. Her Oreo art emulates a wide range of different artistic styles. One cookie has a clouded eye from the work of surrealist artist Rene Magritte, while another contains a post-expressionist landscape by Van Gogh. There is even some recognizable contemporary icing art, including the happy faces of artist Takashi Murakami.

Tisha Cherry does not only create miniature, sweet creations that resemble famous pieces of art. She has also done iconic movie posters such as Jaws, grumpy cat, rainbows, and even Mr. Monopoly. Other food art of hers does not even use cookies at all. She has made Bert and Ernie from eggs and bacon, Calvin and Hobbs from peanut butter and jelly, and Van Gogh’s Starry Night out of candy. You can see more of Tisha Cherry’s tasty, fun food art by following her Instagram. (via Juxtapoz)

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Bovey Lee Constructs Whimsical Urban Landscapes By Intricately Cutting A Single Sheet Of Paper

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Los Angeles based artist Bovey Lee uses one single sheet of Chinese rice paper to cut and construct her unbelievably intricate urban scenes. The winding compositions she creates with simple positive and negative space forms a topsy-turvy world of concrete jungles, mountains, and wild flora. Even the clouds present in her work are fantastical as they swirl around the buildings like smoke. Bovey Lee’s process begins with rendering the composition digitally on a computer. She then prints these images and hand cuts each little detail into creation. These whimsical, impossible worlds are so complex you can search through the cut paper for hours, noticing small details like a person balancing across a tightrope, or a city floating on a cloud in the distance. Even the trucks passing by have unique patterns on each one.

Bovey Lee explains that her work is full of tension between mankind and our environment; a power struggle between two forces. Her work explores the intensions and actions of humans and the affect it has on our surroundings. Lee’s process can be tedious and time consuming, but at the same time meditative. The artist further explains her relationship with working with cut paper. (via Faith is Torment)

“My work is like drawing with a knife and is rooted in my study of Chinese calligraphy and pencil drawing. Cutting paper is a visceral reaction and natural response to my affection for immediacy, detail, and subtlety. The physical and mental demand from cutting is extreme and thrilling, slows me down and allows me to think clearly and decisively.”

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Kim Jae Il’s Uses Negative Space to Create An Imaginary Landscape Of Bubbles

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The artist Kim Jae Il is playing a game, using a make-believe print effect to entice the eyes to get lost into the pattern; voluptuous lines of textured round drops running on the canvas. This is the beautiful visual Kim Jae Il is giving us. If watched from far away  the viewer is mesmerized by the scenery, colored water bubbles creating a spiral, loosing itself within the white background.

The bubbles seen are in fact the opposite of a texture. They are the result of an image incised into a surface, the negative space accentuating the hollow shape. This technique is called intaglio. It’s a print technique where the lines to be printed are cut into the base material. Kim Jae Il is using three dimensional sculptural expressions blended with two dimensional pictorial expressions. The cubic and plane layers are meant to push forward the perspective and fabricate an optical illusion.

Kim Jae Il’s intention is to turn the most ordinary into a dynamic mode. Using the motion as a vanished mirage; leaving a vague trace that can only be remembered. The artist wants to “engrave his own vestige”. He gracefully invites us to dig into his art, not just to admire it from far. Because like this vibrating world that we are living in, there’s more that can be decrypted.

Kim Jae Il is represented by Lilac Gallery in NYC.

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Tip Toland’s Hyperrealistic Sculptures Confront Us With Complex Questions Of Race And Prejudice



African Teen with Albinism

African Teen with Albinism

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African Child with Albinism 4

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African Child with Albinism 1

Tip Toland is an artist known for creating hyperrealistic, larger-than-life sculptures that confront the viewer with issues pertaining to identity and the body. We featured her in 2012, focusing on the aspects of her work that explored age, vulnerability, and death—material (and often stigmatized) states that have profound effects on personal psychologies. Characterizing her sculptures are combinations of clay, pastel, paint, and synthetic hair that create beautifully and uncomfortably real simulations of human anatomy.

In the years since then, Toland has continued to push the boundaries and create sculptures driven by important social messages. Featured here are various works: “Echo” (2014-15), “Africa,” and the “Africa Child” series (2014). “Echo” recalls many of Toland’s previous works: a nude, elderly woman appears to breathe deeply while her clouded eyes gaze skyward. What is most moving about this sculpture is the peace that emanates from her expression and figure; death and age are not feared, but rather accepted as states of near-transcendence.

“Africa” and “Africa Child” delve into more political territory, provoking questions pertaining to race, prejudice, and systems of objectification and “otherness.” “Africa” depicts a black woman awakening to an unseen problem, concern visible in her eyes. The “Africa Child” series involves five portraits of children with albinism, portraying—with astounding intricacy and realism—their expressions of fear and sadness. Explaining her motivations for “Africa Child,” Toland describes the extreme prejudice and violence enacted against those with this genetic condition in Tanzania:

“In Tanzania, horrific acts of mutilation have been taking place due to prejudice, ignorance, and superstition. According to lore, people with albinism are viewed as ghosts or bad omens. Despite this delusion, indigenous shamans have conjured up magical potions from body parts to bring wealth and good luck. Potions have been used in a variety of contexts: gold miners have poured them on the ground and fishermen have poured them on their nets or in their canoes. Living people are attacked and mutilated for their arms, legs, hair, genitalia, and blood. Ultimately the bottom line from these superstitions and prejudices is economic—in a country in which the average annual income is less than $450, a limb from a person with albinism can bring anywhere from $500 to $2,000.” (Source)

Certainly, Toland’s work challenges its audience, asking that the viewers acknowledge and examine systems of oppression and the violence occurring in Africa. But, as Kaiya Gordon astutely asks for the Pioneer Log, “What authority does Toland have to ‘inform’ viewers about a practice happening in Tanzania?” (Source) And how can we ensure that the viewer’s engagement is not one based in misinformation and unintentional, internalized systems of objectification? The pamphlet accompanying Toland’s 2014 exhibition at the Portland Art Museum states a progressive objective, deeming the works “portraits of horror that serve to inform Toland’s audience and, potentially, motivate them to take action” (Source). Trust, then, is left in the viewer to recognize—through the process of their own seeing—practices of “othering” and, by deconstructing these practices, foster a form of empathy and action that is not rooted in cultural assumptions.

Click here to view more of Toland’s work.

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