Marcela Bolivar is a Colombian digital artist who creates haunting images of women embedded in forests of sinister beauty. Encroached by thorny branches and accompanied by snakes and skull-faced birds, each character is possessed by her own dark element. Like spirits resurrected from the leaf bed, their bodies sprout and mutate, driven by ancient and esoteric powers. Using dark hues and gauzy layers, Bolivar does an incredible job blending savagery with ethereal, feminine beauty. Her work is an expression of the mysticism and secrets that lurk in the wooded landscapes of our dreams.
Bolivar is currently on display at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle. Her work is being featured alongside that of Samuel Araya and Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, artists who also compose stunning, fantasy-based visions of terror and beauty. The exhibition, called The Three Imposters, is inspired by Arthur Machen’s 1895 horror novel of the same name. The exhibition runs until November 7th. You can read more about the show on beautiful.bizarre.
An artistic collaboration between a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner and a multimedia artist. One sitting in West Africa, the other in New York. The dialogue between Laurie Anderson and Mohammed el Gharani took place two days ago at the The Park Avenue Armory. The installation/performance titled ‘Habeas Corpus’ is a concept demonstrating the possibility of untangling stories and their interpretations though a simple dialogue.
Laurie Anderson imagined the installation to take part in separate stories. In a first room, the entire body of Mohammed el Gharani is live by the process of projection-mapping in a large auditorium. He is projected as four times his size in a statuesque position inspired by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. . In another room, Mohammed el Gharani appears on a large flat screen, in front of benches set up for visitors. This presentation is filmed as a documentary where the former prisoner narrates his experiences.
The visitors are given prior to the installation a leaflet explaining the circumstances of the making of what they are about to witness. The context of Mohammed el Gharani’s emprisonnement from the age of 14 to 21 and transcriptions of his stories. The young man is describing his story, what he experienced through those years; but without being too precise about the details. Laurie Anderson, the artist, didn’t want to emphasize that aspect. Her purpose is to tell in her own way, how a testimonial, an interrogatory can be told and retold and how it can loose its dominant meaning. (via The Creators Project). Photos by James Ewing
Bear Kirkpatrick is a New Hampshire-based photographer whose dreamlike visions delve into human emotion, memory, and myth. His work is characterized by allegorical, painterly images that blend baroque-style drama with a modern melancholia and passion. The two series featured here are Hierophanies I and II, which are based off of Mircea Eliade‘s theory of the same name. Kirkpatrick explains the term further in the context of his work:
“This study went afield looking for evidence in the modern world of Mircea Eliade’s evocation of the Hierophany, a tear in the fabric of the profane world that showed a glimpse of the sacred world behind it. All that lives and breathes, dies, is part of a cycle of life and death, is a natural part of the profane world. The sacred world exists as a memory of a place before death.” (Source)
In search of these tears between worlds, Kirkpatrick hiked miles into the wilderness, enduring swamps, mosquitoes, and ticks to find the perfect locations. Once there, he would capture—guided by intuition—the sacred as it briefly emerged through nude figures and the landscape. In postures of rapture and anguish, bodies struggle and recline against trees, in the grass, and between rocks, their actions solemn but mysterious, invoking an ancient language that transforms emotion and spirit into a visceral physicality. Permeating these two series is a sense of isolation, one that comes from a profound sense of heartbreak; but on the brink of myth and the eternal, each figure embodies healing and rebirth.
Visit Kirkpatrick’s website to view more of his stunning work.
Architect Zaha Hadid‘s new office building in Moscow, known as the ‘dominion office building,’ is a big, bold, futuristic M.C. Escher. This building is one of the first structures constructed in the up and coming district of Yuzhnoportovy. The structure marks a distinct direction for the desired path of the neighborhood: a place for visionary thinking. The exterior of the building is sleek, shiny, clean and practical, yet, it’s slight asymmetry characterizes it as an entity that deserves attention. While the building itself is striking, it is the building’s interior that is truly remarkable.The lobby and staircases have been constructed in black and white, creating an art deco reminiscent feel, yet nothing about this building’s design seems taken from the past. When looking up through the structure, the geometric shapes create a design of almost painterly accord, creating a playfulness with space that borders on optical illusion. The staircases look like winding piano keys marching through open space. The presence of light is truly considered, making it the perfect environment for forward thinking and inspiration. The building is not just progressive in its aesthetic design — it has also been created in a way to encourage and make expansion for small businesses feasible within the same space. Along with focusing on helping pave the way for small business to expand, it also fosters collaboration between companies sharing the same space; there is a ground floor café next door to the terrace — creating a communal space for exchanging ideas and socializing. (Via Design Boom and Fubiz)
Ted Lawson’s figurative work actualizes difficult concepts of physical identity. His work both strips individuality from his subjects while simultaneously forcing character through implications of the viewer, and therefore, complicating the very meaning of identity.
For example, in his piece titled, Eve, referring to the bible’s first woman, he depicts the cycle of a mutating female figure based on her weight. In this work, Lawson juxtaposes bodies with hanging flesh riddled with cellulite against ones simply constructed of skin and bone. The piece forces the viewer to formulate his or her own opinion of which body is the correct body. Or rather, which body correlates to which type of identity. When reflecting on this piece, the viewer is faced with his or her own interpretations of the same woman. It is then that a more interesting question is posed; does this piece prove that physical appearance identifies who we are, or, does it question the importance of the body— is our physical appearance, perhaps, arbitrary to who we are? Is this woman not the same woman in each representation?
The same questions are raised in his piece The Death of Narrative. There we find a naked woman laying, as if posing for a Renaissance painting, perhaps a Venus. However, instead of being surrounded in objects, hues, and sentiments that would then create allegory, this figure is encompassed with a pastiche of plastic objects. She is not grounded in space or time. She has no history, no narrative, and therefore, no implemented meaning. When observing a subjectless subject, one cannot help but to create purpose; it is human nature to understand through vehicles of narrative and history. Thus, by placing a being in a certain trajectory of non-meaning (the artist describes his work as existential), meaning is then inevitably created due to the human brain’s need for association.
Ted Lawson’s work constantly plays with identity not only through narrative, but also through the its relation to art history. His titles are always referential, if not playful. Even in the means by which he makes his work, sculpting through digital technology, is a manipulation of the tradition of his medium. Lawson’s work is a contemporary interpretation of classic quandaries, however, perhaps his work poses more questions, rather than attempting to answer. (via Empty Kingdom)
Tim Noble and Sue Webster are a creative duo who assemble trash heaps that project shadows of recognizable—and often grotesque—forms: lumps of scrap metal cast the shapes of fornicating rats, and elsewhere shattered wood pieces align into a bickering couple. As a critique of human consumption and waste, their work falls under the category of “Gluttony” in Beautiful/Decay’s Book 9: “The Seven Deadly Sins.” Also featured in Book 9 are Tom Dilly Littleson’s wrathful portraits of self-mutilation (who we wrote about last August) and illustrator Brendan Danielsson’s crude, bloated portraits of sloth.
The concept of gluttony in Noble and Webster’s works arises from the idea of “perceptual psychology,” which concerns itself with how humans identify and interpret images. As it states on their biography page:
“Noble and Webster are familiar with this process and how people evaluate abstract forms. Throughout their careers they have played with the idea of how humans perceive abstract images and define them with meaning. The result is surprising and powerful as it redefines how abstract forms can transform into figurative ones.” (Source)
The junk heaps and their shadows produce startlingly different (yet somehow thematically similar) images—a ball of congealed road kill, for example, projects a human head impaled on a stake. This disparity compels the viewer to produce an interpretation and discern how the images are related. Bridging the gap, one may read the figurative signs of human over-indulgence, waste, and destruction.
To learn more about Noble and Webster and how other contemporary artists explore the seven deadly sins, grab a copy of Beautiful/Decay’s Book 9. Limited copies are still available at our shop.
Mary O’Malley is a New York based potter trained in traditional English and Japanese techniques. Her work is primarily an ode to her craft and an homage to her childhood spent by the sea. However, it is also structured around delicate binaries involving the human need to search for beauty. She states:
“The technical difficulties I began to encounter when enveloping the service ware with ferocious and unforgiving aquatic life got me thinking about a common need we all have to control our own representation of beauty. There is so much fastidious control involved in creating each one of the Bottom Feeder pieces, but with ceramics there is always a margin for error, and some degree of control must be sacrificed. The composition of barnacles and crustaceans populating each piece, the way the iron oxide discovers every nook of the creatures I’ve created, the way the tentacles warp in the firings, etc., is always a surprise. I’m never exactly sure how anything’s going to turn out.”
She fuses different modalities, both literally in her potting techniques as well as what each form represents. The more classic aspects of porcelain, the cream white tea pot, the gold rimmed vase, correlates with a more tamed, predictable side of life. These pure little moments of calm crafting are then overtaken by octopus tentacles, barnacles, and coral, representing the aspect of chaos the is inevitable in everyday life. She explains:
“This play between total control and inevitability has sustained my interest and attention because it mimics life in so many ways: we try our hardest to compose the aesthetics surrounding us—from the buildings and environments we live in to the way we dress and present ourselves. Our daily fight against nature is a fruitless pursuit, yet one we never seem willing to abandon. I find this play between forces endlessly challenging. The dance that results from trying to find a balance between what we can control and what we cannot is where I believe true beauty lies.” (Via Colossal)
Glass boxes reveal human silhouettes made out of drawings, newspapers and discarded cutouts of images. Dustin Yellin, an artist based in New York, piles up layers of glass sheets and ripped up medias. It took up to 6 years for the artist to complete this work initially produced for New York City Ballet’s annual Art Series. He was influenced by the movement and the discipline of the dancers.
The artist’s work consists on drawing on slides of glass. He collects newspapers, magazines and cuts out heads and shapes he finds interesting to apply to the character he is working on. He only depicts humans. By stacking up the collages, drawings and the slides of glasses he creates a “window sandwich”. The 3D silhouette designed in the end is poetic, colorful and up close extremely creative. He calls the series of his 12 characters, “Psychogeographies”, or archive in the shape of humans.
His purpose is to redefine the insides of individuals. In order to bring humans together and to evolve together towards a brighter future, we need to make one. He claims that countries, borders and religions are not relevant when it comes to human kind. Instead of being divided by external elements, Dustin Yellin believes in exchanging as much as we can before the world of differences we produce and live in collapses. (via High Fructose).