Chinese artist Li Wei’s photographs defy gravity with himself often at the helm. They are the documentation of reality that involves sometimes-dangerous stunts that the artist says aren’t doctored by computers. Instead, he uses mirrors, wires, acrobatics, and more to give the illusion that people are flying and have transcended above cityscapes.
In a 2012 interview with The Creators Project, Wei says “we are all controlled by someone else. Our thoughts and actions are all controlled by an unseen force.” These images demonstrate an effort to break free of constraints and limitations, and teeter the line between fantasy and reality. Specifically, Wei is talking about the rapid change in China’s economy, but they hold a wider-reaching message. His photographs could be seen as a meditation on our consciousness, hopes, and desires of wanting complete freedom but having to live within the confines of society.
Lauren King uses vintage photos of landscapes and imagines how to continue the scene. Her drawing extensions – done in graphite – are truly convincing. She creates a space that feels more real than the photo, because it exists outside the borders of the image. A photo retains the image, literally captures it, but King brings the scene back to life and revives it on paper. The most interesting moments are when the image she creates moves subtly from reality, as when she extends the pattern of a bed cover, and the material becomes more like a plant. The photos she uses, mostly postcards, are highly nostalgic. She makes good selections, using atmospheres that are playful or whimsical like her technique. What makes the artwork so successful is her highly skilled rendering; if the images didn’t seem so accurate, they wouldn’t be as fun. What makes them interesting is that, although they seem to complete the image, they could be totally different than what the scene was originally. (Via I Need A Guide)
In Sergei Isupov’s hands figurative ceramics are both instantly recognizable and strangely surreal. Heads are tattooed, the art integrated into the facial features. The backs of the heads often add a separate contrasting element. Lift the head to find a third, hidden design on the base. The images create a narrative, but what does it mean?
“My work portrays characters placed in situations that are drawn from my imagination but based on my life experiences. My art works capture a composite of fleeting moments, hand gestures, eye movements that follow and reveal the sentiments expressed. These details are all derived from actual observations but are gathered or collected over my lifetime. Through the drawn images and sculpted forms, I capture faces, body types and use symbolic elements to compose, in the same way as you might create a collage.” Source
Contrast is inherent to the nature of ceramics. The sculpting that goes into creating the work is meticulous and controlled but once the piece is lowered into the kiln the firing is random and unrestrained. In Isupov’s work the form and content are also contradictory. The figures and heads are realistic, even somewhat minimal, yet the paintings on them are surreal, highly detailed, often adding a skewed dimensionality. There are demons and distortions, surplus limbs and conjoined bodies. Isupov’s works create a world that is visually stunning and conceptually disturbing.
“I am a student of the universe and a participant in the harmonic chaos of contrasts and opposites: dark — light; male — female; good — evil. Working instinctually and using my observations, I create a new, intimate universe that reveals the relationships, connections and contradictions as I perceive them. … When I think of myself and my works, I’m not sure I create them, perhaps they create me.”
New Zealand high school student Liam Martin has created quite the buzz with his Instagram account (@waverider_), where he has currently amassed over 1.5 million followers due to his humorous recreation of memes, and more popularly and recently, fashion photographs of female celebrities (and the occasional cartoon). He’s creatively recreated images of Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, Tyra Banks, Lorde, Iggy Azalea, and Taylor Swift – it seems he grabs whatever is available around him that resembles celebrity clothing and accessories and constructs his own comically similar versions of high fashion. Much of Martin’s comedy emerges from the facial expressions he gives the camera and the energy he exudes in each photo. Martin says, “I’m very weird and open. I think that’s why I get so many followers, because I’m myself.”
Graphic design and illustration studio Violaine & Jeremy create stunning graphite pencil drawings of animals and people merging with wildlife and nature. Surreal illustrations feature wild and domestic critters propped with various attributes of human world: spectacles, patterned scarves and even Victorian waistcoats.
Another humorous venture by the creative duo, Violaine Orsoni and Jeremy Schneider, is to attach lush flowery beards onto humans and wild animals. The unexpected combination of a fiercely looking gorilla sporting a Garden of Eden-like facial hair is beyond humorous. The idea seems to resonate with the latest trend of men adorning their beards with colorful blossoming flora.
Each piece of the collection demonstrates incredible attention to detail. Perfect technique of pencil hatching and shading brings Orsoni and Schneider’s intricate drawings very close to photorealism. Their studio collaborates on a variety of projects: from visual identity, to album covers, to design of the France’s leading innovation magazine, Influencia. (via KoiKoiKoi)
The Birth of Baby X, 2012 digital video, color, sound 4 minutes 30 seconds
Marni Kotak, “Surviving 6 Karpas (Beth Israel Psych Ward)”, 2014, photographic plaque, 40 x 24 inches (detail)
All the Meds I Took
Marni Kotak is off her meds. At least, she’s aiming for that. Prescribed a potent mixture of psychotropic medications in 2012 for her port-partum depression, Kotak’s latest work of performance art, “Marni Kotak: Mad Meds,” features her attempt to wean herself off medication.
Kotak’s 2011 work, “The Birth of Baby X,” was the literal progenitor of “Mad Meds,” culminating in the birth of Kotak’s son Ajax in front of an audience in the gallery space. This controversial exhibition was meant to “convey the authentic experience of [her] life as it is being lived, simultaneously engaging with audience members who become active participants in the actual events unfolding,” Kotak says. “The Birth of Baby X” was followed up by “Raising Baby X” (2011-ongoing), “Postpartum Depression” (2012), “Raising Baby X: The First Year” (2012), “Ajax’s First Birthday Party” (2012), “Raising Baby X: Playtime!” (2013), “Raising Baby X: Family Jam Session” (2013), and “Raising Baby X: Little Brother” (2012-ongoing). Is involving her son in her performances from literally the moment of his birth exploitive? What will it be like for Ajax when he’s old enough to realize that his childhood has been a public spectacle in the name of art?
“Mad Meds” does not involve other people in the performance, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not without its own complex issues.
The 6-week durational performance exhibition and installation finds Kotak addressing her personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry as she attempts to withdraw from psychiatric medicines prescribed as follow-up treatment for post-partum depression more than two and a half years ago. (Source)
Depression can be agonizing; depression after childbirth can be especially isolating in its opposition to the socially acceptable construct of happy new mommy. Of course, Kotak is completely within her rights to wean herself from her medications if she feels that they’re not working correctly, or if the side-effects have become too overwhelming, or if she just wants to. Naming the 10-foot trophy in the work “Med-free and Happy,” though, has implications about psych meds and depression that go far beyond her performance. If Marni Kotak is able to publicly stop taking psychiatric medication as a work of art, that would be a personal act that she has chosen to share, as she did the literal moment of her son’s birth. If Marni Kotak is using her art to suggest that it is some kind of achievement to stop taking meds, the many, many people who are thankful every day that they are functioning and whole and able to live their lives because of the medication they take may have a different point of view.
Images and news of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been circulating media for a few weeks now. The photographs that emerge out of this war are tragic and graphic. A handful of Palestinian artists have been transforming images of smoke and fire from the attacks on Gaza into portraits that reveal the very real and human cost of these rocket explosions. By inscribing faces and bodies onto images of destruction, these artists are reminding people from all sides that war takes its toll on an individual, human level, a fact that is often erased when the media creates its narratives. These simple, yet powerful, illustrations give these Palestinian artists a voice that they might otherwise not be given, a voice that tells a different story than the ones represented in the original photographs. (via demilked)
Although We Were Once a Fairytale (2007) begins slowly, with Kanye West stumbling drunkenly around a nightclub, the short film offers strange but rare insight into the celebrity/artist/god’s psychological complexes in a totally strange and successful way. He accomplishes this by stabbing himself in a bathroom, and producing a rodent from his guts. One of the main criticisms thrown Kanye’s way (other than pointing to his spectacular ego) is his inability to express himself coherently, but in his collaboration with Spike Jonze, Kanye seems to accomplish seemingly genuine and recognizable sentiment.
At first all of your assumptions about Kanye are affirmed: seeing him act like a shithead around the club, pitching back and forth barely able to stand, he is almost too easy to dislike. It’s about halfway through, when he ends up in the bathroom alone, that things begin to change. After he stabs himself, the vulnerable and repulsive creature he extracts from his streaming red-ribbon viscera creates an inner layer of Kanye most people are perhaps even unwilling to concede to him. Depending on how you look at it, it could be as cheesy/naive Bound 2 music video, but it’s difficult not to respect Kanye for the attempt to bare something deeper even when he is bashed so vehemently by pretty much anyone. The film defies direct interpretations. You have a sense of what the rodent represents: something living within, curious and grotesque, but it’s difficult to make sense of his relationship to the creature when he hands it a miniature knife. The final shot of Kanye’s expression maintains the ambiguity of the event, and keeps you thinking about it long after.