Jason Rhoades, who lived and worked in Los Angeles up until his death in 2006, created amazing, over-the-top, often overwhelming, generally disorienting installations. Using neon, plastic buckets, power tools, snaking wires, figurines, sound and other odds and ends Rhoades created work that is engaging, witty and visually spectacular.
Known as “scatter art,” Rhoades’ environments combine a multiplicity of ideas. In works like The Creation Myth, originally installed in 1998, and now re-created for his retrospective at the ICA in Philadelphia, Rhoades created sculptural forms representing how humanity processes information, forms memories and produces things like art. The work often contains biographical, sexual and sometimes outright vulgar elements that require a viewer’s patience and open-mindedness. Seemingly arbitrary, each artifact has its purpose within Rhoades’ installations.
Overloading a viewer with information and visual content replete with metaphors and symbols, Rhoades purposefully creates his installations to avoid finite conclusions. In many ways Rhoades’ works mirror human thought—they layer information and content in seemingly incoherent ways forming multiple, usually incomplete notions and assumptions.
Rhoades’ retrospective will be on view at the Philadelphia ICA through December 29.
Erin M. Riley takes the images that usually live on Snapchat, Tumblr, or the privacy of your own phone and translates them into tapestries. They are pictures you wouldn’t want your parents to see. They feature naked and half naked women, drug paraphernalia, used condoms, and more. In an interview with Arrested Motion, Riley states, “I try to take pictures of the condoms after I have sex, the pictures I send to people, pictures of tables at parties, substances & liquids that change the course of events.”
If broadcasted the world, these are the type of photos that would really embarrass someone. Riley takes time to translate these experiences into large, detailed, and colorful weavings completed on a loom. In the same interview, she goes on to say, “I am taking the time to recreate these images as physical tapestries, because these are the events and objects that are significant to me. Tapestry allows images to be given more time, for hookups to gel, for mistakes to be thought over, its a way to over analyze every detail.” This is a cathartic activity for the artist, who says that there is an ebb and a flow in her images over time. Sometimes, they will be more aggressive or explicit, then scale back. Riley says that it’s a reflection in her own life, and she’s open to sharing this with her viewers. Doing so gives the opportunity to start a dialogue with people who admire, question, and collect her work. She’s happy to have conversation with people who might not broach the subject without the help of her tapestries.
Part of the success of Riley’s work is the way it is produced. She combines two different worlds; weaving, an old art form that requires a lot of skill, and the digital age, one that is very focused on instant gratification and accessible by nearly everyone.
Manal Al Dowayan is a Saudi Arabian contemporary art photographer based in London, Dubai and her native land of Saudi. The basis of her work is black-and-white photography, however she recently introduced more layers to her work by working on sculpture and installations .
Suspended Together, first displayed on the 54th Venice Biennale’s The Future of Promise exhibition is comprised of 200 fiberglass doves that hang from the ceiling by transparent nylon thread. Each of these doves are imprinted with images of written postcards and stamps.
The piece is visually striking and it evokes an interesting set of complex emotions and ideas that challenge the spectator’s view on Saudi women and their initiatives and downfalls to find freedom. At first glance, Suspended Together gives the impression of movement and freedom, however, a closer look, leaves the spectator looking at doves that are static in movement, suspended in flight. Manal tells Nafas Magazine that the written text and images imprinted in the doves are real “permission documents issued by an appointed guardian when they [women, in this case successful professionals] have to travel [get surgery, or any type of important procedure]” ; women in Saudi are not able to conduct themselves freely, and although reforms to improve the visibility and freedom of women look promising, they don’t seem to pass through King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia’s leader. This struggle is visually present in Manal’s work, as she successfully implements imagery that illustrates the contradiction of many important women that found success in their profession [the dove], yet find themselves suspended in flight, as they try to find their way to do the small tasks of everyday life with volition and freedom from their ‘guardians’.
The work of Melbourne based artist Justine Khamara may at first appear to be digital manipulations, but these sculptures are in fact photographs that have been physically manipulated. By cutting, shredding, and shaping pieces of mostly portrait photographs, Khamara creates these absurd and warped images. She sculpts some photographs into spheres or other three-dimensional forms, others she weaves or skews but maintains more of the image of the original photograph, only with a warped effect. In some of her work, she has copied the image of a single body part multiple times, and sculpted fractal-like shapes that give an appearance of continuity. The hand-cut precision of these constructions demonstrates Khamara’s fine attention to detail and use of a medium that usually utilizes a broader variety of images. (via skumar’s)
Dimitri Kozyrev’s paintings are captivating, to say the least. His color precision from plane to line and surface to sky balances the ephemerally abstract beautifully with a hardened environment. This compositional fracturing feels like ice cracking on the pond, disrupting the reflection or illusion of us and our structures, before we crash into a new reality.
This “crash” echoes of Constructivism or Futurism, with deep contemporary critique on not just the disruption of landscape during wartime, but maybe even more so, the distortion of self, identity, and technology in relation to art and activism as these terms relate to the avant-garde, painting, and intention in today’s milieu.
On this note, Kozyrev elaborates:
“I have titled this body of work ‘Lost Edge.’ I use the word ‘edge’ because I draw a comparison between the notion of the avant-garde in war and the art world. In the early 20th Century, the avant-garde was at the height of its importance in both realms. Now, however, I maintain that just as the concept of the military avant-garde has been “lost,” because of changes in methods of warfare, the avant-garde in the contemporary art world, has also lost its edge.
“The source material for this body of work is images of ruins of the once mighty fortifications of the Mannerhiem Line, built to protect Finland from the advances of the Soviet military avant-garde. Finland’s attempt was valiant and not in vain; this war and the lives that were lost in 1939 are largely forgotten. The fortification lie in ruins, and nature is slowly reclaiming them. Similarly, the ‘cutting edge’ of the contemporary art world seems to have become blunted. Viewers of the avant-garde work of many visionary artists of the early 20th Century were shocked, challenged and inspired by The Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ and ‘Fountain’ of Marcel Duchamp. Because of changes in society, like changes in warfare, it has become difficult for today’s contemporary artist to generate the same level of response without resorting to vulgarity.”
This weekend on Beautiful Decay we want to welcome you over to the dark side, where a vast amount of artists are churning out contemporary art fueled by the fire of Metal. A multitude of artists these days are making art inspired by the crushing sounds and dark spirit of Heavy Metal, Death Metal and Doom music, all of which weave in and out of several other genres.
I’ve been a huge fan for a while now of the work made by artists Skinner, Ben Venom and Martin Durazo, which are strongly informed by Heavy Metal. This past week after chatting with artist and Beautiful Decay owner, Amir H. Fallah and artist Skinner and reaching out on Facebook to learn more about artists tied into this music scene, I was turned onto a breadth of incredible artists. A lot of artists working with metal as inspiration have strong crossover into design and illustration, album art, posters (especially for the band Mastadon), band merch and murals. There’s also a strong genre of work that explores dark spiritual matter, mythology and death that is absolutely captivating. You can expect upcoming coverage of these sub-genres in coming weeks.
Raphael Hefti, an artist interested in the factory-like production and performative qualities of art making, puts a twist on ‘land/earth art’ by using sand, iron oxide, aluminum and a 19th century welding process on an enclosed gallery space in London.
His works blur the boundaries between natural/industrial, as he shows new ways of considering the artwork outside of already established narratives, in this case, setting up a foundry (a factory that produces metal castings) in a gallery space, and/or creating a natural process in an industrialized way/setting.
‘Quick Fix Remix’, a performance and exhibition, demonstrates the artist working with the process of ‘thermic welding’, a 19th century industrial process originally devised to weld steel train tracks together. The sand underneath the artist’s feet is composed of iron oxide and aluminum. With the help of both the portable casting vessel (located towards the back of the gallery space) and the artist’s physical labor, the sandy landscape is transformed into an improvised metal casting factory. (via mousse magazine)
“For me the idea of performance is related intimately to the idea of production. Often the situation I work in has its own sense of choreography – from the dunes of a beach to the machinery of a factory floor.”
Photographer Endia Beal has created corporate-style portraits of white women with hairstyles often worn by black women for her series, “Can I Touch It?”. Beal was first inspired to do this project after interning in the IT department at Yale while she was there earning her M.F.A. At the time, Beal, who is tall and black, was sporting a large red afro. She stood out among her mostly shorter, white male colleagues, and one even mentioned to her that a rumor was circulating around the office that the men were curious about her hair and wanted to touch it. She eventually asked some of her male colleagues to touch her hair, and even pull it. A week later, she recorded their reactions. She wanted the men to experience something new, and they were admittedly uncomfortable.
She next sought out middle-aged women who work in the corporate world for “Can I Touch It?”. ”I wanted people that had a certain idea of what you’re supposed to look like in the workspace, because it would be a challenge for them to understand what I experienced in that space…And to a degree, many young white women have shared that experience, but for older white women it’s an experience they haven’t necessarily had.”
“I said, ‘I am going to give you a black hairstyle,’ and they were like, ‘You’re going to give me cornrows?’ ” Beal recalls. “And I said, ‘No, we’re going to do finger waves.’ ‘Finger waves? What’s that? You mean from the ’20s?’ And I said, ‘These are a little bit different type of finger waves!’ ”
She says the women were excited to learn something new and to show off their hairstyles. Through this project, Beal hopes to start a conversation among people who come from various gender, race, and generational backgrounds, especially within the rigidity of a corporate environment. She is currently in North Carolina continuing this project, and is considering having the women enter and work at their offices with these new styles, after which she would record their experiences. (via slate)