While visiting the town of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Italian photographer Martina Bacigalupo discovered a very unusual set of studio portraits. Despite being perfectly composed, none of them featured a subject’s face as they were all cut out leaving blank rectangles in the photograph. Oddly enough, it appeared to be a common practice in Gulu for taking ID photos.
Bacigalupo visited Uganda searching for ways to document this community, which was suffering from violent conflicts. The first faceless photograph she had stumbled upon lead her to meet Obal Denis, the owner of the oldest photography studio in town, the Gulu Real Art Studio (est. 1973).
“The portraits were well composed, with subjects seated on a chair or on a bench, with a blue, white or red curtain behind them, in various poses and modes of dress. Obal <…> told me the secret behind those pictures: he only had a machine that would make four ID photos at a time, and since most of his clients didn’t need four pictures, he therefore preferred to take an ordinary photograph and cut an ID photo out of it.”
For Bacigalupo, these ‘leftover’ images were the purest form of representation of Gulu’s society. She gathered the unused prints and interviewed clients of Obal’s studio. To most Ugandans, who suffered from more than two decades of war, taking new ID photos marked important changes in their lives: getting a driver’s license, starting a new job or applying for a loan. The value of such events is perfectly conveyed through the subject’s pose, gesture, clothing and other subtle details.
There is something desolate about Ryan Pierce’s woodblock-style paintings, although they’re filled with color and often the riotous bounty of nature…maybe it’s the lack of human presence that makes all of his scenes feel somewhat abandoned. A couple of the pieces below, in particular, are very Van-Gogh-ish in their paint handling and palette, a reference I feel I haven’t seen explored much out of young contemporary artists. Ryan seems to update the expressionist ethos into a post-industrial landscape.
With razor-like precision sculptor Willy Verginer creates figures from a single tree trunk. He carves delicately made pieces which speak and brings to light important issues affecting living things. His latest delves deep into the environmental concerns of crude oil. Instead of overly stating the obvious Verginer makes subtle references to its affect. He places his latest figures including animals and people atop barrels of crude oil. Since oil is liquid the artist purposefully depicts the figures beginning to become stained or contaminated by the substance. This is graphically shown around their feet, hooves or paws and also in their faces. In some he will paint the base on which the figure stands in silver or gold signifying the value placed on the highly valued commodity which is gotten through sacrifice of both creature and environment. When a human figure is used he shows the gold or silver seeping into their shoes or clothes which signifies man’s greed.
The one lingering fact about crude oil responsible for almost every aspect of modern day living is that it is highly toxic and carcinogenic in every form. When it is burned the smoke it produces causes black soot in the air which gets captured in our lungs. If oil is accidentally spilled into the ocean it will kill fish and other sea life almost instantly. As we learn more about its ill effects scientists are looking to provide more alternative ways to produce power which include solar and wind energy. (via hifructose)
When an artist works with patterns- repositioning, repurposing and giving new context to his or her subjects- it is often in the interest of creating more from less, big from small. It’s a way of demonstrating a well-worn flavor of creative vision, one that lets the world know that you not only can see the unseen, but you can create the bridge between that which exists, and that which, as of yet, does not. It’s a way of asserting how smart you are (after all you’re a step ahead of everyone else). This is a good way to be. But it doesn’t take that much effort to be smart, to see the bigger picture. For many of us, it’s really just a matter of opening our eyes. What’s really special -what separates the thinkers from the human computers- is the ability to really understand your subject. And that’s something that takes time and effort, not some abstract, bullshit self-assertion of ‘creative vision’. What’s really special is to use pattern to go inward instead of outward. To demonstrate not how one thing is actually a part of something else, but how certain elements make something not like something else. To highlight how some things are just inherently the way they are.
Take Ron Ulicny’s recent work on view at Spoke Art in San Francisco: clever sculpture and belligerently patterned works that force you to really absorb the materials from which they’re made. Ulicny’s technique finds a way of getting inside the things that we usually use to make other things. A way of finding the small structures within the already small. Forced to confront his subjects in such a direct way, we begin to feel strangely acquainted with the work.
Canberra, Australia based artist Jacqueline Bradley creates artwork that is perhaps best described as dreamy – sleepily strange. Her sculptural work is squarely based on familiar objects that recall a house and the home life inside. Yarn, glasses, dinnerware all seem to diverge subtly but perceptibly from normal use. In this way the sculptures seem more like playful memories of objects than the actual objects themselves. Bradley’s work explores the home as a place and the way people engage with it.
When two great artists come together with completely different styles, amazing things can happen. Artists Grady Gordon and Derek Albeck have come together to create a collaborative series in which Gordon starts one of their artworks, and Albeck will finish it. Both artists working in graphite, their work fits together naturally. However, there solo work provides a stark contrast to each other’s styles. Gordon often works in monotype, creating his pigment from ground up cow bones. His organic, abstract techniques could not be more different than his collaborator. Albeck’s work is exceptionally detailed, rendering photorealistic drawings with graphite. When you mix these two opposite methods of creating art together, the results are incredibly unique.
When Gordan and Albeck join forces, their work becomes a hybrid series of morphing, deformed faces that are not of this world. These highly expressive faces are missing many parts such as eyes, a nose, or a mouth at some times. Even the hand that is included in this series appears to have contorting fingers and twisted bones. The winding line work confuses our perception until we cannot tell which end is which, or even, which part is the inside or the outside of the head. You can see this captivating series at the exhibition Sometimes I See You Look At Me Like That at The Smoking Nun Gallery in San Francisco, Califonrnia. You don’t want to miss it, as it ends next month on July 17th.
With the help of their local Cats Anonymous organization, photographer Jason Houge and his girlfriend have been feeding and caring for a colony of 30 (for now) feral cats that occupy the couple’s rural Wisconsin property. When they first moved into to their home, cats would come and go, but in 2012, one family of cats stuck around longer than a season. Thus began the start of Houge’s cat family, a family that he has recently been documenting via Instagram. “There’s not a lot of understanding of cats, even when they live in your home,” Houge says. “I was mostly interested in seeing how they lived and interacted within a colony.” Houge’s photographs capture the wildness of the feral cats, the use of black and white emphasizing outdoor light and shadows from which the cats emerge. There’s an intimacy to these photographs that could only be captured with the cats’ trust of the photographer.
Noting how quickly a cat population can increase, Houge explains, “It’s likely most people have heard stories of hoarders who live with hundreds of cats. It only takes two intact cats and two or three years to get to that point. A female can have an average of five kittens three times a year and can become pregnant at about six months of age.” (via feature shoot and lens)