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The Dark Sensuality Of Youth In Bill Henson’s Controversial Photography

Bill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — Photography

The work of Australian photographer Bill Henson is a sensual journey into a dark, sensate, and ephemeral world. He is well-known for traversing and troubling the lines that demarcate time and space, identity, and artistic genre; as stated on the Tolarno Galleries website, he is an “explorer of twilight zones, between nature and civilization, youth and adulthood, male and female. His photographs are painterly tableaux that continue the traditions of romantic literature and painting” (Source). The mottled and dewy skin of his emotionally-rich subjects resembles the classical, artistic technique of chiaroscuro, wherein deep and murky shadows are used to create bold contrasts that illuminate the body in dramatic compositions. Similar to how your peripheral vision dims when you look at something bright in a dark room, the arched backs and turned faces of his models become the semi-obscured focus in his pieces, shrouding them in even more emotive and intangible beauty.

Henson is not without controversy, however. His work received a lot of criticism in 2008 due to complaints of indecency; his accusers deemed his images of nude teenagers as exploitative and inappropriately sexualized. His photographs were seized from exhibitions, and a public debate erupted regarding censorship. Later that year, it was settled. He would not be prosecuted, and the Australian Classification Board declared his work as “mild and justified” (Source).

Henson’s photography may evoke a sense of discomfort in some people, but to others, it resonates as passionate and melancholic portraits of youth. Many of us can probably relate to his imagery — those nights in our early adulthood, where we began to explore the possibilities and materialities of our post-pubescent bodies, connecting to them without shame, becoming self-aware of our own physical beauty, expressivity, and depth. Even his images of two or more models interacting do not seem pornographic; instead, we see people reaching, touching lightly, seeking connection, discovering the quivering electricity of the body when it comes into intimate proximity with others — the power of touch. Such nights and experiences remain forever in our memories. In this way, Henson’s work is less eroticized voyeurism than it is an exploration of our physical and emotional development.

A vast selection of Henson’s work from across the years can be seen at the Tolarno Galleries website, found here. Check out the rest of the dim and sensuous images after the jump, and please let us know how you respond intellectually/critically/emotionally to Henson’s photography in the comments below. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room Will Have You Seeing Dots

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A children’s project by Yayoi Kusama has people seeing dots, lots of them. Called The Obliteration Room, the renowned artist known for her sculptures and paintings of dots, decided to have a little fun with the kids. She created an interactive installation geared towards children which asked occupants to enter an all white room and stick the walls and furniture with colorful dots. This allowed participants in essence to make Kusama art. The installation was designed to enable the child part of your brain to run free and create.
Currently displayed at Queensland Art Gallery, the before and after pictures are nothing less than remarkable. In some ways mimicking connect the dots paintings where a gradual buildup occurs, we see how the all-white room is turned into a lively display of dots which turns the stark environment into a colorful painterly mess.
According to Kusama, The Obliteration Room is a place where you empty all your thoughts. The dots become therapeutic, meditative shapes which in Kusama’s case has helped her stay sane. Now at 85, the artist doesn’t keep it a secret that she lives as an outpatient at a mental hospital in Japan. In the 1960′s she was at the forefront of anti-war art demonstrations, in particular protesting the vietnam war. Her work is shown worldwide and is considered one of the more important artists of our time. (via juxtapoz)

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Lucy Sparrow Opens Grocery Store Entirely Made Out Of Felt

> Lucy Sparrow - Felt, embroidery

Lucy Sparrow - Felt, embroidery

Lucy Sparrow - Felt, embroidery

In the depths of East London, artist Lucy Sparrow ambitiously converted an abandoned, rundown store into a majestic, playful and fully functional corner shop. The only catch is that every single object in this store, including the cash register and the functional pricing gun, is made out of felt! Everything has been stitched and created by Sparrow herself out of nothing but felt, thread, and the occasional stuffing. Last year, when The Cornershop was “opened” it was filled to the brim with normal, everyday items that a grocery shop may have in stock, but instead, made of felt. The items included ice cream, cans of soup, Doritos, beer, and even cigarettes, just to name a few. The variety of items that were sold at the store was endless. The best part about this corner shop is that it functioned as a real store. A customer could enter the store, shop, purchase the felt items, and take them home. Sparrow’s felt creations became so popular that she even opened up an online shop where anyone in the world can purchase his or her own soft food and cigarettes.

Each grocery store product looked impressively similar to its real-life counterpart, in spite of being made out of felt, with the exception of Sparrow’s vegetables with eyes, of course. While The Cornershop was opened, it contained over 4,000 soft, plush items. The painstaking task of creating each individual grocery item out of felt and embroidery speaks volumes to the artist’s patience and artistic talent. (via The Jealous Curator)

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Jnr Hacksaw, Filthy Lucker And Pedro Estrellas Create Inflatable Hugs For Everyone

Musii-Multisensory Interactive Inflatable



Welcome to Musii, an island of emotion where you can play, feel and listen. Feel like you need a hug?  Musii will give you one!  This instrumental blow-up stands for Multi-Sensory Interactive Inflatable.  A device that lights up and provides a sense of comfort for anyone who interacts with it.  Large, soft nylon spires make up its body and extend upward. Pressing down on them creates a spectacle of feeling, brushing all emotion.

Beneath the milk white exterior is an audiovisual system equipped with LED sensors and vibrating speakers that radiate music from a selection of more then 50 sounds. Musii was specialized with the intentions of providing sensory therapy for children with special needs. The inflation and deflation of the spires creates a “humming bird” musical of sound accompanied by rays of changing color.  The adjustment of light, sound and volume can be accessed through a touchscreen remote.

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Bex Day Photographs The Charming, Denim-Clad Characters Of The Biker World

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The stereotype of your average biker is probably not the first thing you would think of when looking at these images by London based photographer Bex Day. She manages to capture a personable, jovial and charming side to the bikers associated with the infamous 59 Club of London. Wanting to recreate scenes of the subculture from the 60s and onwards, Day cast different characters in certain poses that are endearing and humorous. She says:

I wanted to explore the renowned biker café, the Ace Café and explore the lives of the bikers who hang out there and get to know them better; but most importantly to investigate their take on the 50s/60s movement.

Trying to keep the scenes as realistic as possible, and true to the spirit of the 59 Club, it is important to Day that she captures the bikers how they really are – wrinkles, blemishes, hairy backs and all. She goes on to say:

I wanted to recreate the era to illustrate it in a timeless manner, which is what I try to do in all my photographs, but also to emphasize how the subjects viewed the era we were trying to portray and their take on it was crucial to the photographs.

Day wants to challenge our views of conventional beauty and to destroy the guidelines of what is and what isn’t aesthetically pleasing. A subject that isn’t normally seen as beautiful, in Day’s hands, is treated as something equally as attractive as a traditional fashion spread. Who would’ve thought long haired men wearing too-tight dungarees and ‘pimp’ glasses straddling motorbikes could be so appealing?

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Bloodcurdling Photos Of Clowns Straight Out Of Your Worst Nightmare

Eolo Perfido - Digit-C Print

Eolo Perfido - Digit-C Print

Eolo Perfido - Digit-C Print

Photographer Eolo Perfido’s series Clownville is a place where nightmares are real. In this series, Perfido photographs a hodgepodge group of bloody, cackling, and all together demented-looking clowns. What makes this set of clowns so horrifying is the incredible attention to detail the photographer has taken into account when developing such a dark, desolate atmosphere. We are able to see each crusty hair on the clown’s body, every white, chalky flake of skin. They have become just as grotesque as they are unwanted. The clown, who can be thought about in a cheery, amusing way, is often a subject that many people fear. Among all of the classic, cult horror films lies the infamous and terrifying clown. It has been appropriated to suit every child’s nightmare. Still, there is something incredibly sad about the clown, even in some of the characters in Clownville. Although frightening, many of Perfido’s clown seem worn out and used, as if they are just misunderstood and unfortunate. This sense of hopelessness can be seen in the photograph exhibiting a fairly large-sized clown smoking on a couch. Another representation of this is found in the face of the big, teary-eyed clown staring straight into the viewer, with no smile. The entertainers are perhaps tired of entertaining us.

Eolo Perfido’s heavily stylized approach to photography is very apparent in his series Clownville. Many of his photos have a very staged look, almost like a play, while at the same time feeling genuine. Others have an old, classic flavor due to their grainy quality and black and white tones. There is something different that can be found in each clown as their creative make up and poses reveal bits of their character. As unnerving as this series may be, we cannot look away from these unforgettable, chilling faces.

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Mark Powell Uses Old Documents And Magazines As His Drawing Surface

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Old magazines and documents are given new life in Mark Powell’s work. Instead of using a blank piece of paper he incorporates a used surface with one of his drawings. This adds a bit of nostalgia and makes his sketches unique. He created a series of animal portraits on the covers of 1940′s National Geographic magazines. These were done in Powell’s ultra realistic style, where he used a common bic ballpoint pen to create dramatic renderings. In this instance, the wild animals offer the viewer a striking view of not only Powell’s expertise as a draftsman but a certain comfort level in seeing a familiar title.

A series of map drawings by the artist cleverly uses historical and literary figures. Mostly portraying old men, Powell fuses the lines on their faces perfectly with the map borders adding an interesting element. The idea itself preserves a time and place.  Birds, insects and chimpanzees create another body of work that incorporates more reappropriation. The intricately drawn specimens appear on anatomy text book pages, old letter envelopes and historical editions. These are rendered with scientific precision similar to botanical studies. Their placement on the used surface opens up a collage sensibility.

Powell uses a tool that also holds historical significance. Before the bic biro pen was invented only cumbersome fountain pens were used. These were messy and inconvenient. A newspaper editor named Lazlo Biro noticed that newspaper inks dried quicker and with his brother Gyorgy, a chemist, created the first ballpoint writing pen. Because of the moving ball at the pen’s end the inks were allowed to dry making it easier to use. (via faithistorment)

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Three Women Get Historical Makeovers That Explore Their Cultural Pasts

makeovers BuzzFeedVideo - Makeup/Fashion BuzzFeedVideo - Makeup/Fashion

Last week, BuzzFeed published a video featuring three women who were given complete makeovers based on “diverse traditions of beauty,” transforming them into figures from their cultural, historical pasts. Their backgrounds — which were Indian, English-Irish-Scottish, and Chinese-Taiwanese – were researched, and then clothes, accessories, hairstyles, and makeup were selected to recreate the looks. The women are fascinated and excited by the stylists’ creative interpretations of their heritage, and as one participant expresses, “It’s traditional, but at the same time, there’s an edge to it.”

A possible criticism of this video would be that it risks essentializing ethnic identities and notions of beauty; it’s always important to remember that cultural histories and traditions are infinitely diverse and nuanced. However, BuzzFeed’s goal to creatively explore a range of backgrounds is valuable, in that it aims to celebrate cultural difference and disparate histories. The video provides positive representation to alternative-and-equal cultural understandings of traditional beauty, which is important in a world wherein the media is so often dominated — or at least influenced — by Western standards and ways of thinking.

Check out the video above, and share with us your thoughts. What do you think about these depictions of diverse, traditional beauty? (Via designboom)


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