Born in Bavaria, Southern Germany, photographer Elena Helfrecht taps into the dark stormy mood often connected with the painter Caspar David Friedrich and the German poets writing about the emotions of the human condition. Her images have a beautiful delicacy to them, heavy with reflection and contemplation as Helfrecht tries to make sense not only of the world around her, but also the world within herself. In her series Little Stories, she compiles photographic narratives of moments that are intensely personal to her.
Including close ups of her hands covered in blood, her feet poised in front of freshly picked flowers, her stomach cradling a pigeon, she uses her own body to visually express her inner thoughts and emotions. Helfrecht reflected on the series:
I think the most intense one for me has to be “Farewell” [the pigeon narrative]. I often think about death. I really fear what comes afterwards – the ending of consciousness, where nothing is left (at least this is what I can’t stop believing). When I went to work and just came out of the station, a pigeon fell down right in front of my feet and died there after a short cramp. I was shocked. I didn’t expect something like this to happen and I was deeply moved. I even cried. It was like a metaphor how quick everything can be over and what is left of it – nothing but an empty shell. We live and rush around without cherishing what we have, and then it will be simply over.
This series is about the one issue which bothers so many of us: the matter of life and death. In the pictures the shown human body is alive, but one day the images will show something which is no more, like the bird. Still I believe something will stay in this world after we die: Memory. This is what the photographs itself stand for (for me they are a tiny piece of hope).
Moving through a macabre world of paper mâché, clay and other assorted materials, Roxanne Jackson creates a gnarly wax museum population. In it, her themes of death, extinction and transformation mold into a still menagerie of Jungian imagery where half man/half animal, sleeping snakes, faceless figures and scary kitties are the norm. Her lot of decaying citizens become eerily alive as they slither, gawk, and snarl at the world. In them, a dark vanity is present, fulfilling our every need for gratuitous horror. In her Death Valley, Jackson uses familiar themes associated with the place that run parallel to her own work. Built around a faceless couple’s camping trip, we witness as they encounter human skulls, fateful hands, swans and Harpy; the half man/half bird creature who embodies the real and imagined shamanistic deities we often think of in these environments. Akin to a carnival master readying props for the eve, its outright Jungian excess takes us down a path which challenges expected norms. In Feed Me Diamonds, Jackson focuses on another transformative creature in the form of a mermaid. Except this pretty thing has a bullet in her head and seems to be drowning in a pool of debauched excess. In her hands, a pair of dice and a deck of cards tell us she’s playing with fate. In her mouth, a set of diamonds? Just another example of the grisly world Jackson inhabits which fronts as a pit stop for twisted redemption.
If you’re local to, or find yourself in New York City during January, head to Times Square to witness artist Sebastian Errazuriz’s site-specific installation. Titled A Pause in the City that Never Sleeps, it’s a black-and-white video featuring the artist slowly yawning multiple times throughout its 11:57PM to midnight timeslot. There isn’t any fancy editing or motion graphics in Errazuriz’s video – it’s just him that dominates approximately 50 electronic billboards that are central to the city’s hustle and bustle.
If you’ve ever visited Times Square, or even just seen pictures of it, you know that it’s a crowded frenzy nearly all times of day. There are hoards of people, bright lights, colors, and jumbo-sized advertisements that are on a continuous loop. Errazuriz’s moment-of-zen video stands in stark contrast to what we’re normally used to seeing. It’s unhurried, hypnotic, and contagious. Visitors might feel the urge to yawn after watching it.
About the project, Errazuiz says, “I hope that the video can offer a brief moment of pause that can remind us of our urgent necessity for free space and time that can allow us to recover a stronger sense of awareness. (…) I am yawning at everything and all of us; we need to wake up.”
Find A Pause in the City that Never Sleeps from 42nd to 47th streets between Broadway and 7th Avenue until January 31. (Via designboom)
Bara Prasilova‘s photography is both playful and disturbing. She uses soft pastels with pops of neon color to evoke feelings of nostalgia and innocence; simultaneously, she hints at themes of restraint and constriction. In her project for the Hasselblad Masters Book, she’s chosen to explore the theme of “evolve.” Her prop of choice is hair: a natural material that she portrays in a surreal and absurd fashion.
In one photograph, a woman jumpropes with a long Rapunzel-esque whip of hair; in another, a thick braid wrapped around a woman’s neck looks suffocating yet elegant. Prasilova explains:
“Through my photographs, I have been trying to understand human relationships and connections: long hair symbolises the invisible strings we use to strap somebody to us or, perhaps, the opposite, to let somebody loose. They are the threads of our emotions, worries and fears that we are afraid to loosen like hair.” (via I Need a Guide)
Photographer Ben Hopper‘s “Transfiguration” project transforms his subjects into living sculptures. Each photo is charged with kinetic energy, only heightened by the bold streaks of body paint and splatters of white powder.
“Like a mask, the layers of body paint and powder disguise the identity and release something animalistic from within,” Hopper says. “It also creates a sculptor / painting looking figure, more abstract and less human.”
For his subjects, he chose to work with dancers and circus artists whose athleticism and grace enabled them to contort themselves into the surreal shapes needed. Some of the photographs look like cubist paintings because of the contrast between black, white, and human flesh along with the seemingly impossible angles and feats of flexibility performed by the subjects. The body paint looks almost like strokes of charcoal, creating depth while also the illusion of two-dimensionality.
DI$COUNT UNIVER$E is a Melbourne-based brand that combines art and eccentricity in the creation of a highly successful (and undeniably unique) fashion line. Enter their webpage and you cross the threshold from dull reality into a psychedelic circus full of fashionable madcaps donned in acid-bright garb. DI$COUNT founders, Nadia Napreychikov and Cami James, describe their aim at the crossroads of art and fashion:
“[DI$COUNT is] a culmination of ideas, imagery, the dialogue between us and the world, the desire for transformation and evolution; it’s about personality, spontaneity, humor and irony, cliché and imitation. It’s our art!” (Source)
“Culmination” and “spontaneity” are indeed the perfect words to describe DI$COUNT’s designs. The fabric is bestrewn with sequins, glitter, and studding, and the graphics include sparkling and bleeding eyeballs, open mouths, and disembodied, groping hands. Radiating with humor and seemingly random absurdity, the hyperbolic strangeness of these styles pokes fun at the highly conventional and artistically-vacant designs that dominate the popular fashion industry.
Both graduates of RMIT University, Napreychikov and James began the company “with little business experience, no capital and no intention of taking out a loan” (Source). Their solution? To turn to the internet and foster a cult following using platforms such as Instagram, Tumblr, and their blog. This way, they were able to connect with other people who view fashion as a potential form of alternative art and social satire. Visit their website and Facebook page and follow them as they explore the capacities of art, creativity, and social wit to explode the limitations of the fashion industry. FELLT also features an interesting interview with Napreychikov and James about their brand.
Credits: Photography from the Penthouse Mouse Midmouse Runway (March 2012) by Meagan Harding.
Graham Caldwell sculpts intricate organic-like structures from hand blown glass. His artworks mirror natural life forms on a molecular level. He pulls, twists, stretches and blows 2,000 degree glass into all sorts of shapes, arranging them into globular, spiky, prismatic, concave, convex, and densely myopic configurations. Caldwell uses the hard shiny metallic properties of glass in contrast to the forms he is recreating. He references nature – flowers, leaves, tropical fronds, water drops, fly’s eyes and eyebrows, but chooses to present them in a man-made, futuristic, fractured, cubist fashion.
Using mirrors, metals, steel and epoxy he likes us to reflect on the way we see the world around us. His interest lies in the act of perceiving, the function of eyes, the purpose of lenses, and how sight works.
Much of my work focuses on glass as a conduit or modulating agent for light and its parallel in the functionality of the human eye: using a lens to flip an image of the world, upside down and backwards, into the brain where it is reassembled, through illusion and forensics. (Source)
Caldwell is the ultimate advocate for art as science. His process is all about trying to recreate an organic process through a completely manufactured one. He enjoys the tactility of glass and the bizarre shapes they can inhabit.
Imagine the shape that balloons take on when they’re half filled with water; now imagine them flash-frozen and sticking sideways into space. Glass, says Caldwell, “is a slowed-down, meaty version of water.” (Source) (Via Hi Fructose)
From the sounds of it, Skellie is your average girl. She loves Starbucks, takes full advantage of open bars, and goes on shopping sprees. Skellie chronicles her life on an Instagram account, where she’s known as @omgliterallydead. The caveat, though, is that Skellie is a skeleton – a fake one that you’d normally see around Halloween.
This project started as an inside joke between co-workers, and Dana Herlihey, a social media manager, is the brainchild behind Skellie and her antics. “In early October, a pose-able, plastic skeleton arrived at our office,” she told Buzzfeed. “My coworkers took to it; someone taped a Starbucks cup to the skeleton’s hand and I took a photo for my personal Instagram. (This was at the height of the Pumpkin Spice Latte craze.)”
Herlihey thought that it’d be funny for the skeleton to have its own Instagram account, and she realized the potential for contemporary satire. Skellie plays the part of a “basic” person who gets super excited over the most average things – Fridays, sushi, and snow are just a few. Each photo adds another definition of the term.
Herlihey has a lot of dedication to Skellie. When you see the skeleton at the coffee shop, at the dentist office, and at a bar, that means that Herlihey took her with her. “Some people love it, laugh, ask to take a photo, or make a witty pun as they pass by,” she explains to Buzzfeed.. “Others will pretend there is no skeleton sitting beside me or give me frequent disapproving side glances.” (Via Bored Panda and Buzzfeed)