Through elegantly beautiful works, Vandana Jain uses corporate logos and symbols, to study the effects of institutionalized repression. Her metaphor, an illusory philanthropy implies how corporations subliminally demoralize and enslave cultures. Her depiction manifests most commonly in an architectural setting, and through icons of religious nature including mandalas and totems. These logos are beautifully manipulated by Jain into mesmerizing works, that distract from the symbol’s intended purpose. Mostly working in installation, Jain engages all media in this format including drawing, sewing, painting and video. Her most recent project, “Dazzle” is the result of her residency at Brooklyn’s Smack Mellon. For the project, Jain created a series of murals, inspired by naval camouflage used during world war l. Before sonar, brightly colored lines were painted on warships in various patterns. These were used to confuse the enemy of a ship’s size, speed and direction. Jain applied the same technique to the huge interior walls of Smack Mellon. In colored artist’s tape, her familiar corporate logos are masked behind camouflage, which continues her conversation with the corrupt and exploitive nature of corporate brands. Her training as a textile designer comes through in the pattern making ability needed to make the walls come alive. The dazzling lines recall circus tents and opt art made in the 60′s and 70′s.
Spanish artist Guillermo Mora creates oozing folds of vibrant color from little more than piles of acrylic paint. An accomplished artist whose work was recently featured at this past Art Basel in Miami, this innovate sculptor creates incredible installations made from just two simple materials. Rubber bands and leather belts are the only things holding together his shiny clumps of paint. Mora’s process is almost surreal, as he dumps buckets of acrylic magentas and baby blues onto the floor to begin. After the paint dries, he simply lifts the now hardened paint, and proceeds to fold and wrap his glossy, pastel creations. To add further to Mora’s highly textural and tangible installations, many of the artist’s sculptures have a crackled, rough grain to the paint.
Many of Mora’s installations are unique, as his work often morphs and transforms to the space that it inhabits. Mora’s choice of medium allows him to manipulate it to fit in the space as he sees fit, such as hanging from the ceiling, running down a wall, or folded into a corner. This allows the artwork to demonstrate a strong focus on color and form. Mora’s use of seemingly traditional materials continues to mystify us as he changes the way viewers think about acrylic paint and what it is capable of.
Maxime Ballesteros is Berlin-based photographer who captures the strange, incidental, and oft-intense encounters that punctuate our late-night sojourns into debauchery, pleasure, and excess. The openness and playfulness of his subjects (many of whom are his friends) denotes a party that has reached a fevered, dissociative pitch. Not unlike the fragmentary memories flickering through the brain after a night of indulgence, his photos always suggest there is a much greater narrative going on: from cars abandoned along a dark roadside, to entangled legs, to people kissing and groping in the company of others, we are privy to only one piece from such nighttime revelry, making us curious voyeurs into a fleeting moment from a stranger’s erotic and/or emotional life.
Something happens to us human creatures after nightfall – our energy changes, an “edge” develops that wasn’t there while the sun was still shining. We become desiring, sensate, and slightly odd night-dwellers. Given the recurring images of heels and garter belts and glimpses into the world of BDSM, it is not surprising that Ballesteros’ repertoire is commonly identified as “provocative” and “sexual.” However, it is important not to reduce his photography to such; Ballesteros expresses that his “work is [only] as provocative and sexual as the world is,” and that we interpret sex in everything because — of course — it’s what “driv[es] us most” (Source). What he also explores is the humor, beauty, pain, and gracelessness that motivate and underwrite these late-night experiences.
The way Ballesteros manages to capture the honesty and frankness of these experiences lies in his photographic techniques. His core tactic, in his own words? To “get lost” (Source), to become invisible in his surroundings while remaining receptive to the energy of the people around him, so that he can decipher people’s facades and understand the true dynamics of an encounter. With his camera, he tries to get in close; he avoids re-cropping so that the image is a true representation of that moment; and he uses a high flash, centering the object or body of interest. The result is raw, stark images that confront you with their candor and intensity. And even when his work dips into the surreal — the latex-clad woman screaming while being pushed down a hallway in a wheelchair, for example — the photos still bear a realist, honest aesthetic, as if they truly could be moments from a strange, semi-lucid night.
Following Ballesteros’ wisdom, I encourage all readers to “get lost” in his website, where he has organized his collections under such intriguing titles as “entre chien et loup” and “love me – i’m trying.” You can read an interview with Sang Blue here. The Corner Berlin also features a fascinating video of Ballesteros comparing the nightlife in Paris to that in Berlin. More of Ballesteros’ work after the jump.
Anne Simone combines her knowledge of computer programming with a love of music. Bittersweet is her new lp which features a twist. The lyrics of lead track “Digitize Me” make up a running computer program and the words you hear are directly taken from written code. The idea came to Simone when she thought about a computer reading language. In that environment, a simple machine responds to basic commands of yes/no, true/false and 1s and 0s.
The artist compared it to human nature and concluded that life would be so much simpler, if we just followed these Zen-like rules. If we did, there would be less complication and miscommunication in our lives. Getting a further glimpse of what actually occurs when two different disciplines collide, it can be witnessed on the actual computer printout of “Digitize me”. Nothing too complicated or elaborate in the aesthetic sense, it reveals just a simple drawing. The real innovation is in concept and design. A place marker for today’s interdisciplinary melding of styles and tastes. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Simone currently resides in Seattle, Washington, where she works as a software designer. Her passion has led to a double life that now overlaps and is reflected in well written, emotionally charged songs. These are further enhanced by an equally lovely voice, reminiscent of Imogen Heap or Tegan and Sara. Besides uplifting music, other novel bits on her new record take cues from classic synthsters Kraftwerk. The German outfit had a single called “Pocket Calculator” where the sound of fingers pressing a keypad accounted for the actual beat. Another, “Computer Love” taken from the same album, falls in line with Simone’s dreamier tracks. For the technically minded or just curious, the code/lyrics to “Digitize Me” is available on GitHub (https://github.com/kineticsongs/digitizeMe).
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.