Photographer and grad student Kaija Straumanis has created a playful self-portrait series in which her image is captured right at the moment a random object seems to be thrown at her face. A pumpkin, book, dodgeball, boot, and even a mojito smash into Straumanis’ head, smooshing her face and glasses into an awkward contortion. Despite the impact of the objects, in each photo, Straumanus stares a seemingly unaffected gaze into the camera lens. The collisions are set during everyday tasks and among familiar environments, resulting in a humorous series of striking moments. According to HLN, Straumanis creates the photographs by layering images into a composite and artfully manipulating them until they appear seamless. She practices mashing objects into her face, looking into a mirror to create the perfect pose, then layers images accordingly. “I feel like it’s disappointing that I’m not actually getting beat up,” Straumanis admits. “I’m duping the Internet!” (via bored panda)
After her decades’ long work exploring androgyny, the photographer Bettina Rheims saw a shift in the way cultures view gender, and she was inspired by transgendered youth. As transgender issues are only recently beginning to receive the attention they deserve, her 2012 project Gender Studies aims to give voice to the most intimate thoughts on the gendered self. Using Facebook, she reached out to any and all people who “felt different” in regards to gender; with responses from those who identified as male, female, both, or neither, the diversity of her subjects is staggering, and they serve to remind us that feeling “different” may be the only thing that unites us all, regardless of our genders. In the series’s original show, the artist played audiotapes of her sitters, allowing their own voices to inform each work.
The portraits reveal strength in vulnerability; the bareness of the nude form does not speak to intrusive questions about specific physical characteristics but rather to a more meaningful revelation of selfhood through movement. As pure white clothes melt from bodies, each subject reveals bandages, tattoos, freckles, and other marks of universal human existence. All definitions and judgements give way to ethereal and blossoming beauty, elevating the spirit of the body and deeming theoretical, academic, or impersonal definitions of gender irrelevant. Simultaneously humanizing and worshipful, this is portraiture at its most powerful, lending the human form and soul a more murkily transformative sexual and emotional authority. What do you think of the images? (via Bust and Slate)
Barbara Wildernboar, a South African photographer and sculptor, creates a series of altered books that are visually reminiscent of organic, sea-like organisms. Some emulate the visually striking legs of a star fish, others are reminiscent of wild, but beautiful jellyfish- but most of her work imitate the very beginning of any type of live being, a very basic but important part of life as it is- the shape of an atom or a mitochondrion found in eukaryotic cells.
Wildernboar strictly uses books that she buys in flea markets while she’s abroad; usually, she uses books that are dated and redundant- however, there seems to be a pattern to the kind of books she picks- almost all, if not all, have to do with earth/physical science or biology. This specific detail could or could not be relevant, but the ways in which she shapes and manipulates the paper within the book tells us otherwise. She states the following about this speculation:
Although my work has strong ecological themes, I do not see myself as an activist for environmental change, nor is the body of work to be seen as a green campaign. It is rather a reflection on my personal response to climate and environmental issues that can often leave one feeling overwhelmed and distressed.
Imagine a ring encrusted with finely sterilized teeth—or chunks of imported hair— and you have the work of jewelry designer Polly van der Glas. To the artist, these works of wearable art aim to address notions of beauty; as part of the overall gestalt of the human form, hair and teeth are signifiers of vitality and virility, but when ripped from the gums or snipped from the scalp, they become morbid, reminding us of the fragility of youth, beauty, and the body.
Van der Glas’s pieces speak to the allure of all jewelry. The ring itself carries iconographic weight; the idea of the wedding engagement ring—and even a promise ring— pivots around its circular shape, which serves as a vaginal symbol as well as one of eternity. The magic of van der Glas’s work lies in this tension between the sensuality and permanence of precious metal jewelry and the morbidity and temporality evoked by the deconstruction of the body.
Somehow, though, the work is not entirely grotesque. The careful treatment perfectly rounded teeth is reminiscent of a child’s play with the tooth fairy fantasy; shining locks harken back to romance tales in which locks of hair are gifted as promises to forbidden lovers. In this way, the work is playful and young, but set within metallic frames and coated with dark metal, that innocence veers into a dangerous realm, reminiscent of violent helmeted warfare. As it turns from gentle to wicked, from everlasting to painfully mortal, each piece invites us to examine and grasp onto the most precious and poignant treasures of our own jewelry boxes. (via Oddity Central, Ecouterre, and Gold Delicatessen)
Cristin Richard is in the movement of artists whose work is related to the body and identity. Her work examines the human condition and the fact that the body is physically and mentally determined in this condition. It is thus the window of our relation to the world. She transcribes her own personal story through impulses to existential questions.
In this particular work, The Political Aesthetics of the Skin, Richard plays with fashion, sculpture, performance and social commentary in order to bring forth these beautifully made gowns that resemble the look and feel of human skin.
Here, Richard is interested in examining the body, personal identity, as well as sculptural objects in a subtle but powerful way. She explores these themes by creating sculptural dresses that resemble skin color and skin textures made out of animal intestines. Richard’s usage of organic material, is what gives her looks the means to exist as throughly manipulated pieces, an obvious detail that makes her fashion garments have more of a sculptural feel than just regular fashion pieces. After creating the dresses, the Detroit based artist puts together an elegant performance that include women of several skin shades; she purposely finds models that perfectly match the dresses’ skin color tones. Although her pieces are wearable and highly fashionable, here, the dresses go beyond trends.
With the idea of fashion as sculpture, Cristin Richard blurs the line between fine art and fashion. She believes that fashion allows one to create a second skin. It provides an escape that is rooted in the truth to one’s own identity. One can transform themselves into whatever makes them feel good, allowing them to approach society in their own unique way. Through these observations, the artist develops and analyzes the subject of the appearance of one’s self, and also that of one another.
Trapped behind glass cases, the miniature human subjects of Lisa Swerllng’s Glass Cathedrals unabashedly perform daily rituals normally veiled from the outside world. The stunning pieces afford viewers with a whimsical type of voyeuristic indulgence. Like children before a set of dolls, we are invited to examine the many mundane moments that compose adult life, breathing life and meaning into each dollhouse-like setup with our own imaginations.
With its feet firmly planted in childlike curiosity, the series is unafraid to veer into tragic emotional spaces; caught staring into endless amounts of white space, many of the figures appear lonesome and fully aware of their smallness. A woman scrubs at a dizzyingly vast array of tired floors and walls, incapable of completing her work for her own tininess and permanently fixed position. Similarly, a man stares at his cow, a sole companion who does not return his gaze.
Though humorously seen, Swerling’s models are at times bitterly unaware. A group of people stand before a glass case containing the figure of a generic ghost labeled “god” with a sign stating, “In case of emergency break glass,” not noticing that they themselves are encased in glass, searching for meaning in the touchingly absurd. The viewer, in turn, is forced to face his or her burning existential yearnings within this magically adult dollhouse.
The idea of domesticity as it relates to femininity shines through in Swerling’s work in unexpected ways. A piece titled “A woman’s work is never done” features a woman sweeping pink glitter, erasing the suggestion of the usual portrayal of the home as unfulfilling; here and in a piece that features a woman serving dinner at the head of the table, glitter serves as a surprising and ecstatic symbol of female self-actualization. From the woman who examines herself before a mirror to an unwaxed redhead standing nude before circle of nuns, Swarling’s women embrace their activities unabashedly.
Hitting poignant notes that remind us of the power that lies beneath human smallness, isolation, connection, and actively defined identities, Glass Cathedrals serves as an alter at which we may worship our own condition. (via Foodie Bugle, Catto Gallery, and Lost At E Minor)
Although Gowri Savoor experiments with dozens of different mediums, ranging from drawing and painting to mixed media sculptures made from fabrics, woods, her Seedscapes series might be the most immediately powerful. Taking various plant and fruit seeds which are pinned against boards like butterflies, in more geometrically-challenging patterns and formations, the sculptures resemble other natural forms, such as waves, sound-waves and snow or sand dunes.
The Leicester, England-born artist currently lives and works in Vermont, USA, where she gathers the various seeds used as materials in her metaphorically ephemeral works (including pumpkin, apple and sunflower). Says Savoor of her loaded-material choice, “In themselves they’re very fragile. No matter what I do, the pieces will continue to decay. There’s a human sadness as well, that everything will eventually die.” (via junk-culture)
The saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” proves itself to be true with this outstanding series of work by redditor, Shystone.
On this body of work, the artist cleverly juxtaposes paintings of London from the 18th and 19th century with London’s modern-day settings in Google Street View. Taking inspiration from the film “London, Then and Now”, Shystone takes several popular landmarks on Google maps, including Westminster Abbey and the River Thames, and just like a puzzle, he inserts the matching 18th/19thth century painting where it belongs on the GSV’s shot. The beauty of this is how much we think things have changed over time, but truly, as we can see here, everything still kind of remain the same, at least aesthetically/architecturally. The 19th/18th century paintings make us nostalgic for the simpler times, but the Google Maps image makes us cynical about today’s highly industrialized, loud and filthy London. It is interesting to think about how we are looking and thinking about these polar opposite characteristics in a place that has physically changed very little. (via The Atlantic Cities)