Collage artist Ashkan Honarvar (previously featured here) creates intriguing paper works that are undeniably macabre, and eerily beautiful. He deals with the darker side of humanity, and how identity is formed through the human body. Usually taking images of faces, people or bodily forms, Honarvar splices images together and recreates an idea of how we perceive ourselves, or the role the human body plays in history. In this series Conquest 5, he is concerned with the idea of colonization and the idea of superimposing one culture on top of another. He takes this concept quite literally and overlays images of wealth (gems, jewels, precious textiles) and tools that would be used to colonize a culture over images of peaceful, relaxed indigenous people.
In Die Weissen Kommen (The Whites are Coming) Gert von Paczensky wrote: ‘If we delve into the core of colonialism then we see that the whole thing was one big plundering expedition, one continuous assault and robbery that involved massacres and mass murders, gold and bloodbaths, rapes, slave-trading and genocide’. Ashkan Honarvar has taken this subject and visualized various aspects of European colonial history. The hunt for wealth and power, the submission of the indigenous people, the abuse of religion as a justification and the animal-like behavior. (Source)
Honarvar is used to tackling complex issues – his themes have ranged from war victims, to the Israel – Palestine conflict, to Soviet forced labor camps. He isn’t one to shy away from uncomfortable subject matter, and has a knack for turning horror into something wondrous. He explains his motivation:
Imperfections play a big role in my work. I’m always looking to find beauty in places you don’t expect them to be. I think subconsciously I’m trying to find beauty/aesthetics in the extremes, just to be able to believe that everything is ok and there is hope. (Source)
Tarek Mawad and Friedrich van Schoor have teamed up to light up a forest, using real-time projections to create the effect of bioluminesce. With their digital wizardry, trees glow as though veined with lava and wild mushrooms dance with fairy lights.
The duo spent six weeks in the forest, mapping all the contours of their subjects to ensure the illusion would be complete. Ice blue stripes shimmer and disappear on a tree frog’s back and spiderwebs glint with threads of light. The result is subtle and magical, hinting at undiscovered mysteries just off the beaten path.
Simply named “Bioluminescent Forest,” the project was inspired by the natural bioluminescence found in marine life such as jellyfish and certain deep water creatures; seeing the aquatic lightshow transposed onto land adds yet another layer of intrigue and otherworldliness. (via This Is Colossal)
Artist Shirin Sahba’s exquisite works are ripe with tiny details and beautiful, fresh color. The grandiose compositions feature large skies and cross-sectioned grounds that reveal petals, flowers, and patterns rather than dirt or grass. Gradients of pinks, purples, blues, and greens fill the in-between spaces in a dreamy, hazy sort of a way.
Aside from the repetitive symbols and drawings, Sahba’s work is minimal. Her images feature one or two people as the subject, and we aren’t given much visual context clues. Sometimes, there’s a tree swaying in an imaginary breeze or an elephant giving two lucky people a ride.
Born in India, Sahba spent her adolescence surrounded by “the pristine azures of the Mediterranean in Israel,” and she visited 25 countries before she was 16. Her paintings speak of her upbringing as well as her love old cinema and traditional roots steeped in the Old Persian art of miniature. “I have often repeated the narrative of solitary characters traveling with no specific destination, allowing the journey itself to carry more importance,” she writes in an artist statement. “I have also concentrated on the simplifications of the traditional landscape into an abstract picture plane of colour and textures, while including figurative miniature characters and architectural elements, unifying the abstract with the representational. The characters are allowed to freely traverse a surreal landscape of floating colour planes.” (Via Art Hound)
Jordan Sullivan’s series The Burial Cloud examines and reflects on the rape of his mother in 1973, Petacalco, Mexico. Each photograph is just a glimpse into a memory, a fleeting moment that we cannot hold onto or make sense of. Sullivan has created this series from found photos and letters from his mother, as well as his own staged photography. The tone in the photographs quickly changes from adventurous and carefree to somber and destructive, all the while embodying the same distant vagueness. This leaves us with curiosity and wonder of the events that took place. Sullivan explains:
“[My mother] had traveled with her friends to Petacalco in search of an epic wave that a pair of surfers had recently discovered.”
This series lays out the event just as it would appear as a memory; in fragmented images that shift throughout time. There is no implication of a time or place in much of the imagery, just a window inward reflecting on the human psyche. The emotion of the woman shown, the photographer’s mother, changes from bright and excited to isolated and alone. The Burial Cloud is a journey in which we must piece together a story we cannot fully understand. A story told through disjointed, stunning images that include roaring oceans, burning flora, and scenes of discontent. These ethereal photographs radiate feelings of discovery, doubt, youth, and fear. Sullivan shines light on a delicate subject while beautifully capturing his mother and a tragic past. The Burial Cloud will be released as an illustrated biography in 2016, and will include photographs, text, and collages.
Welcome to Okinawa, Asia’s hidden treasure that many don’t know about but should. The name Okinawa means “Rope in the open sea” which is an apt description for this series of 160 islands (49 inhabited and 111 uninhabited) that is quickly becoming known as the ultimate vacation spot for those who don’t want to visit the same old tourist traps that most people frequent.
With Okinawa being such an exotic local it’s no wonder that seven thrill-seeking travelers from seven countries banded together to make a lifetime voyage to the islands.This series of eight videos followers these travelers as they experience the many sites, sounds and tastes of the islands unique cultural offerings. In the above video Russian model and dancer Maria Bessonova gets introduced to the beauty of the traditional Ryukyu dance. Ryukyu dance first developed in the time of the Ryukyuan kingdom. Known as a graceful and dynamic expression of the Okinawa soul, the elegant dance not only explores classical tales but also everyday life. As Maria learns about the dance she visits a Bingata Kimono workshop and ultimately gets to perform one of Okinawa’s most famous cultural offerings
Take a break from the studio today and join the cast of Okinawa as they explore the unique, the unknown, and the exotic offerings of Asia’s best kept secret. Now that’s tropical bliss!
The term, “May the force be with you” is taking on new meaning by a team of MIT researchers who recently designed a chair that can build itself. Yes, you heard right, a chair, which can build itself. Using water, magnets and technology, MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, headed by Skylar Tibbitts, in conjunction with Autodesk and molecular biologist Arthur Olson, have invented a technique which allows inanimate objects to construct themselves. The process, which combines raw, local and molecular materials, grabs hold of structural alchemy in the purest sense of the word. By deciphering the essence of structure, the team is able to figure out how it will react to raw and local environments. Once an assessment is made, a subject is then manipulated down a path of experiments, which will eventually enable it to react and change itself in the process. The study which has been ongoing for several years opens up endless possibilities, that will affect all sectors of life, including medical research, conflict resolution and urban planning. The chair evolved from Tibbitts’ original breakthrough known as 4D printing. That idea concentrated on the simple act of folding and became conscious of “the fourth dimension” otherwise known as time. Compelling not only in its simplicity, but also in exploring how the brain processes common occurrences in everyday life. So, the next time you witness bread popping out of the toaster, think of the infinite possibilities. (via thecreatorsproject)
Photojournalist Brett Gundlock delves deep into the everyday lives of Canadian Neo-Nazis in his emotionally conflicting series The Movement. The imagery presented is shockingly conflicting as we are shown moments of intimacy between the group’s members, and are also haunted by the many symbols embodying Nazi racism and violence. Isolating themselves from conventional society, the Neo-Nazi’s underground world is shown through photographs full of bloody walls, Canadian Red Ensign flags, and Swastikas.
Gundlock provides private, personal situations of a dark and troubling minority in a somewhat unlikely place; Canada. Interested in marginalized groups of society, Gundlock explains that his relationship with this series is complicated due to the obviously upsetting Neo-Nazi ideology focusing on White Supremacy. Gundlock describes his experience with this underground culture:
“The symbol of white skin is penetrated and marked with the black inks of Nazi symbols. Crime becomes the bullet point to their alternative résumés. Their existence requires a distinction between themselves and mainstream Canadians, people they understand and reinscribe as “the enemy.” A self-fashioned minority who believes they should be the majority, the Neo-Nazi enclave animates the tensions of a culturally diverse Canada.”
Gundlock’s sociological approach to his documentary style photography creates an informative and engaging dialogue in The Movement. Gundlock asks a very important question in his statement on this series, why do some Canadians become Neo-Nazi Skinheads? Perhaps it is the human need for community and belonging that drives some people to join such a hate-filled group. Often, people join these groups for a sense of entitlement, importance, or a sense of belonging. Gundlock’s photographs point a keen eye on a controversial part of society that many do not wish to face.
You can view Brett Gundlock’s newest series by checking out his Instagram.
Indonesian painter Haris Purnomo started painting babies covered with dragon tattoos over 20 years ago and has slowly included women and men into his oeuvre. Initially starting illustrating babies because “they were cute”, Purnomo quickly realized they could be a effective symbol for the Indonesian lower class. His portraits now include all ages, demographics and classes. Like some sort of branding or gang symbol, the faces he paints all bear a marking of a certain culture. They all belong to the same time and place. Purnomo was a painter during the time of the military dominated government of Suharto and his work shows a certain sort of forced introspection – a focus on pain and mysterious, subtle symbols.
His paintings are highly political as well as highly stylized. As a member of the Gerakan Seni Rupa Bary, The New Art Movement, and of PIPA, two innovative art movements from Indonesia in the seventies, he not only challenged Suharto’s power and the preexisting aesthetic, but also people’s understanding of their own culture. These are his own thoughts on why he produces artwork and it’s social importance:
Once we are faced with the necessity to make a choice or a stand, everything that makes up our backgrounds will play its part: time, age, economic, social and political considerations, idealism, behavior, creativity, et cetera. All these may alter, strengthen, undermine, or develop anything we believe, and the ‘Pipa’ artists are not exceptions in this. As a father seeing his children growing up I experience a sense of losing [sic], I feel the strong drive to give more attention to children, including others’ children; that is what has been going on in me Being hopeful about my children and wanting to be more attentive to children in every aspect, I think these two things provide the basis of the central theme of my works.(Source)
Purnomo’s artworks are not only culturally relevant for Indonesia, but can teach us a whole lot about the human condition, it’s strength, fragility, resilience and adaptability.