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Chloe Aftel’s Portraits Of Agender Youth Challenge Male/Female Binary

Chloe Aftel's Portraits Of Agender Youth Chloe Aftel's Portraits Of Agender Youth Chloe Aftel's Portraits Of Agender Youth

In the wake of a horrific incident in which Sasha Fleischman, an 18 year old “agender” youth, was set on fire after falling asleep on a bus in the Bay Area, San Francisco Magazine commissioned photographer Chloe Aftel to capture a series of portraits of young people (including Fleischman) who defy the male/female gender binary.

Aftel’s “Agender” series seeks to raise awareness of an overlooked and misunderstood community of gender fluid people who face oppression and harassment simply for not conforming. Preferring terms like “genderqueer” and “nonbinary” and the pronoun “they” over “he” or “she”, this growing community includes people who identify across the gender identity spectrum, from agender (neither male nor female) to bi-gender (both male and female) to gender-fluid (shifting from male to female).

“They have a real strength of character and complete clarity about who they are,” Aftel told Vocativ. “I found it fascinating that there is this whole group of people galvanizing the debate about what gender is, and to a certain extent, what love is and what self-expression is. It’s about what works for you.” (via feature shoot and policymic)

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Grotesque Photos Capture The Pains And Joys Of Womanhood

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In her visceral, raw still lifes, the 21-year-old photographer Madison Carroll captures the grotesque remains of meaningful moments gone by. Used condoms, pregnancy tests, and blood stains grace her compositions, punctuating a narrative that skips dizzyingly from girlhood to womanhood, from innocence to experience. As if plucked from last night’s waste basket, these soiled items emerge; in the context of Carroll’s clean, immaculate technique, they become all the more haunting.

As if part of some unusual crime scene, waste products are left out, forensically archived by Carroll’s lens. Here, rotting fruit and old bandaids mark not a murder but the more gradual, subtle trauma of growing up, of being woman. Like a pool of blood, tea spills from a delicate, shattered china cup; a lemon, once fresh and aromatic, rots. An egg cracks, the yoke spilling out into a satin pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear like a giant, monstrous ovum released during menstruation.

In Carroll’s disturbing yet thrilling realm, the dangers and joys of femaleness collide in a moment of brutal self-reflection. Death and fertility become indistinguishable. In a frilly, feminine doily, a cockroach lies dead, rotting beside a snuffed-out cigarette. A Clear Blue pregnancy test sits on an old rust-stained rag, the urine and tissue in the toilet simply a blurred afterthought.

Like a hoarder of significant items, Carroll’s lens seeks out that which might be thrown away, forgotten by time. A male lover, sprawled on the bed, is captured asleep, in a state of heightened vulnerability, his pale nakedness pressing against the border of the frame. At the artist’s feet, a condom evidences the intimacy that occurred minutes or hours before. (via Feature Shoot and iGNANT)
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Peiqi Su’s Dancing Penis Wall

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If you read about “The Great Wall of Vagina,” you know that walls made of modeled human genitals are nothing new, but student artist Peiqi Su’s 3D printed “Penis Wall” raises the bar. This interactive installation is composed of 81 interactive phalluses, which go erect and flaccid according to the viewer’s presence and gestures, each of which is registered with ultrasonic sensors. These little guys can be linked to stock market and translate data visually, or they can be programmed to play along with “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.

Inspired by the widespread notion that “everyone on Wall Street is a dick,” Su satirizes the male sexual organ. But she also treats it with the utmost reverence, referring to it as “one of the oldest and probably the most attractive thing that humans can interact with.” The wall is a very literal manifestation of male desire; the viewer is in total command of the erections, which rise like small columns of vertebrae, giving new meaning to the term “boner.” (via Animal New York, Lost at E Minor, and Huffington Post)

Dancing along to Tchaikovsky’s recognizable composition, the phalluses look delicate and agile as a prima ballerina; instead of the deliberate, immaculate movements of the female form, we see a surprising representation of male sexual impulse. These penises seem not like organs governed by erotic urges but rather like whole creatures with minds of their own, capable of executing the most complex choreography. Like ocean tides, their careful movements speak to a strange and unexpected unity and harmony between the self and the community. Here, the genitals aren’t base and vulgar but intelligent and thoughtful. What do you think?
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Celebrity Fad Diets Recreated As Beautiful Still Lifes by Dan Bannino

Beyoncé Knowles - “Master cleanse diet,” lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, salt, and laxative herbal tea

Beyoncé Knowles – “Master cleanse diet,” lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper, salt, and laxative herbal tea

Bill Clinton - “Cabbage diet,” cabbage soup, mixed with other vegetables.

Bill Clinton – “Cabbage diet,” cabbage soup, mixed with other vegetables.

Luigi Cornaro - “Sober Life,” fifteenth-century Venetian nobleman, 400ml of solid food or eggs and 500ml wine.

Luigi Cornaro – “Sober Life,” fifteenth-century Venetian nobleman, 400ml of solid food or eggs and 500ml wine.

Lord Byron - “Romantic poet’s diet,” potatoes in vinegar and soda water.

Lord Byron – “Romantic poet’s diet,” potatoes in vinegar and soda water.

Whether you find it oddly comforting or just downright strange, fad diets have existed long before our time. Photographer Dan Bannino documents the temporary eating habits of celebrities as far back as Henry VIII and as recent as Beyonce. He goes beyond simple tablet settings, however, and crafts moody, rich-looking scenes that are luscious in their color and texture. Bannino describes the inspiration for his series entitled Still Diet, writing:

With this series my aim was to capture the beauty that lies in this terrible constriction of diets and deprivation, giving them the importance of an old master’s painting. I wanted to make them significant, like classic works of arts that are becoming more and more weighty as they grow older. My aim was to show how this weirdness hasn’t changed even since the 15th century. (Via Artnet)

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Dalton M. Ghetti Creates The Tiniest Sculptures Carved Atop The Tip Of A Pencil

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The Connecticut-based artist Dalton M. Ghetti carves mind-glowingly small sculptures atop the tips of pencils. Bored with carving larger objects, the sculptor invented this delightfully miniature medium to draw the eye to the pleasures of the minuscule; in a world where bigger is generally thought to be better, his work reminds us that sometimes the most magical things can spring forth from right under our noses. Ghetti uses sewing needles and razor blades as carving tools, and he works by holding the pencil steady beneath a direct light source like a lamp. Due to the required precision and effort, a single piece may take months or even years to finish.

Ghetti’s work contains a charming childlike curiosity and innocence, one that is maintained in part by his staunch refusal to sell or profit financially from his creations. The pencil is an artistic medium in itself, and by carving it, the artist shifts our perspective and subverts our understanding of what constitutes fine art. Furthering this whimsical challenge to the visual arts cannon, Ghetti avoids fancy pencils, using only recycled or discarded pencils that he finds on the street. The subject matter of his sculptures is also delightfully regular; by carving these everyday objects—a saw, a hammer, a spool of thread— he elevates the seemingly mundane.

Ghetti’s most ambitious piece is his 9/11 memorial. For the project, titled 3,000 tears, the artist carved 3,000 tiny teardrops from pencil graphite. Each tear took approximately an hour to make, and the entire work was in progress for a decade. Together, the tears form one large drop. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
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Stunning Photographs Prove That Bees Are Beautiful

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In the past years, bee populations have been devastated by something scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder, causing a global crisis for humans and other animals. Sam Dreoge, a biologist at U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, catalogs hundreds of bee species in his lab. As the head of the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Dreoge produces stunning high-resolution images that capture the diversity and spellbinding beauty the fascinating and helpful little creatures.

Dreoge’s photographs, which are used to identify and track bee populations, are often magnified up to five times the actual size of the insect. Focusing on minuscule details normally only visible under a microscope, most of the pieces are composites of numerous images, shot at multiple ranges with a 60 millimeter macro lens. Each image is also carefully edited, scrubbed of specks of dust. In preparation for the photo shoots, each bee specimen undergoes a bath in warm water and dish soap, after which they are carefully blow-dried to showcase their astoundingly beautiful, vibrant hair.

Dreoge’s images of bees read like the technological age’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci, who studied and sometimes killed insect specimens for the dual purpose of art and science. Research like this always raises ethical flags, but that moral question becomes more complicated when we are confronted with environmental crises like CCD. Bee populations are effected by parasites as well as problems caused by humans, like pesticides and climate change; it’s imperative that we find a way to save these miraculous animals, and Dreoge’s work could go a long way. What do you think? (via Smithsonian and Colossal)
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Guia Besana’s Series Reflects Pressures Faced By Contemporary Women

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Guia Besana, born in Italy and based in Paris, has created a photography series titled “Under Pressure” that portrays women in contemporary society with its neuroses and complexes, but with an artistic and stylistic flourish – one evocative of tales from a storybook. Besana stages scenes, creating single, still images that are representative of a fictional story reflecting the pressures women face to be perfect including themes of marriage, burn-out, conflict with body aesthetics, excesses, and other questions involved in a woman’s identity. Besana’s thoughtful series is at once dark and playful and demonstrates the photographer’s artful vision- she has an eye for composition, patterns, and style, and creates a striking fine art aesthetic that pairs beautifully with the theme of contemporary women’s identities. (via dark silence in suburbia)

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Daan Botlek’s Silhouetted Street Art Figures Escape From An Abandoned Building

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Daan Botlek‘s trademark figural painted works always evoke a certain one-off kind of narrative, but his latest series, Escape From Wuhlheidecarries this idea even further. Based in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, Botlek (previously here) was exploring an abandoned and graffiti-filled building in Berlin, when the idea of painting an escape came to mind.

While wandering through Wuhlheide looking for some spots to paint the idea arose…to make some sort of storyline of an escape.”

The story in Escape From Wuhlheide reads like a cartoon rendered in real life, blending street art, animation, illustration and painting. Each ‘cell’ of the escape is painted individually, depicting two blanked-outline characters making their way through the dilapidated space, peeking around corners, crawling up walls and climbing ladders. Each ‘cell’ is then photographed, documenting their run away. (via colossal)

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