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The Dark Sensuality Of Youth In Bill Henson’s Controversial Photography

Bill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — PhotographyBill Henson — Photography

The work of Australian photographer Bill Henson is a sensual journey into a dark, sensate, and ephemeral world. He is well-known for traversing and troubling the lines that demarcate time and space, identity, and artistic genre; as stated on the Tolarno Galleries website, he is an “explorer of twilight zones, between nature and civilization, youth and adulthood, male and female. His photographs are painterly tableaux that continue the traditions of romantic literature and painting” (Source). The mottled and dewy skin of his emotionally-rich subjects resembles the classical, artistic technique of chiaroscuro, wherein deep and murky shadows are used to create bold contrasts that illuminate the body in dramatic compositions. Similar to how your peripheral vision dims when you look at something bright in a dark room, the arched backs and turned faces of his models become the semi-obscured focus in his pieces, shrouding them in even more emotive and intangible beauty.

Henson is not without controversy, however. His work received a lot of criticism in 2008 due to complaints of indecency; his accusers deemed his images of nude teenagers as exploitative and inappropriately sexualized. His photographs were seized from exhibitions, and a public debate erupted regarding censorship. Later that year, it was settled. He would not be prosecuted, and the Australian Classification Board declared his work as “mild and justified” (Source).

Henson’s photography may evoke a sense of discomfort in some people, but to others, it resonates as passionate and melancholic portraits of youth. Many of us can probably relate to his imagery — those nights in our early adulthood, where we began to explore the possibilities and materialities of our post-pubescent bodies, connecting to them without shame, becoming self-aware of our own physical beauty, expressivity, and depth. Even his images of two or more models interacting do not seem pornographic; instead, we see people reaching, touching lightly, seeking connection, discovering the quivering electricity of the body when it comes into intimate proximity with others — the power of touch. Such nights and experiences remain forever in our memories. In this way, Henson’s work is less eroticized voyeurism than it is an exploration of our physical and emotional development.

A vast selection of Henson’s work from across the years can be seen at the Tolarno Galleries website, found here. Check out the rest of the dim and sensuous images after the jump, and please let us know how you respond intellectually/critically/emotionally to Henson’s photography in the comments below. (Via Juxtapoz)

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Scott Dalton Photographs Of Mexican Faith Healers

Scott Dalton

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Scott Dalton

Scott Dalton, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker based in Houston, Texas documents the pilgrimage devoted to Mexican faith healer, Niño Fidencio, in Espinazo, Mexico.

Through the years in Mexican cultural history, Curanderos (Faith Healers) have served an important role in peoples’ medical and spiritual lives. In fact, many of these healers become celebrities, as their miraculous healing creates huge followings. In the early 20th century, El Niño Fidencio became one of the country’s most celebrated healers; today he is regarded as a folk saint by thousands of his devotees, or, as they call them, fidencistas.

In 2009, Dalton traveled to Espinazo to document the festivities devoted to El Niño Fidencio.

“What interested me in the project was just the idea of faith, and how it takes a variety of forms in peoples’ lives. This project just looks at one part of that, but I think it serves a reminder of how important faith is for so many people throughout the world, and how we all come to terms with our own belief system within the context of our own society and environment.”

Fidencistas believe that modern-day curanderos can channel the spirit of Fidencio; these photographs show many of the rituals provided by these modern day healers. To us this looks unusual, cinematic and surreal, but to them these ritualistic activities only mean their salvation. Dalton said he witnessed transformations, in which the eyes of curanderos would roll back and they’d assume a high-pitched voice- taking Fidencio’s spirit in order to heal. (via Slate)

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Cigdem Keresteci

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Artist Cigdem Keresteci is an illustrator and motion designer working out of Istanbul. Her inspired doodles have an ease about them that lends a youthfulness and brightness to her work. Along with animator Quba Michalski, Keresteci runs imago new media, a motion graphics studio. The pair do it all, from developing the initial concept, to script writing, illustration, photography, film, animation, and editing.

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Next Day Flyers Presents:Ryan Chapman

Ryan Chapman’s iconic  illustrations are proof that sometimes simple is best. His quirky and playful illustrations go back and forth between digital, hand drawn, and the occasional 3D sculpture. Find all this and more after the jump!

Presented by the leader in fast business card printing, Next Day Flyers.

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Northwest Expressionist Kyler Martz Redefining Tattoo Graphics

Kyler Martz- Illustration

Kyler Martz- Illustration

Kyler Martz- Illustration

Kyler Martz- Illustration

Seattle artist Kyler Martz is an illustrator, painter, and tattoo artist with an expressionist style so unique within his field that it seems to take the whole concept of tattoo work into uncharted territory. While the work of famous tattoo personas like Ed Hardy has mass commercialized the basic styles of sailor tattoo art and tattoo graphics into a nearly bland generalized version of itself, Martz is pushing the genre forward and taking it back to weird, in the best way possible. Having mastered the basics of line work and image building, what stands out about Martz is his use of layered objects and elements to create a woven narrative that is surprisingly dense within a compact space. Using both abstract and figurative symbology, Martz has found an interesting balance between the literal and the ethereal that makes his work conceptually vivid and involved. Many hidden aspects lie in wait: faces and skulls within landscapes, pocket knives folding open into mountainscapes, and often you can find the Eye of Hamsa nestled within the architecture of the piece. Russian nesting dolls, houses on snails backs, and boats made of sea creatures are other strange metaphorical pockets Martz’s work has inhabited and enlivened. Allusions to the omnipresent spirit of the northwest drift in and out of his work: campfires, trees, The Puget Sound, log cabins, mountains, and wildlife; items detailing the Filson/Pendleton lifestyle that is deeply embedded in the historical northwest culture. These abstract notions add a sense of timeless mystery and allow his work to be interpreted on multiple tiers of thought. It will be really fun to see where he is at and what he is making a few years from now.

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The Strange World Of A Dwarf Theme Park In China

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After stumbling across a photograph on the internet depicting people posed in a dwarf theme park, Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde conducted a little research and discovered that the Dwarf Empire, or Kingdom of the Little People, is a real theme park that operates in the Yunnan province of China. In this park, dwarfs provide entertainment – singing, dancing, and various other forms of amusement – for tourists who visit the park. De Wilde eventually contacted the park’s manager and was invited to take photographs of the park and its 77 little people for a project she calls “The Dwarf Empire.” As soon as she arrived, she immediately felt compelled to consider questions regarding the morality of the park’s existence, namely if the workers were happy there, or if they felt more like they were being put on display and exploited. Additionally, “For me, it’s about how this kind of place can exist,” De Wilde says. “What does it tell you about a person who starts this and creates it? What are his intentions?” Founded by a tall, rich man who wanted to “do something good” for the little people, this park is a “Chinese charity dressed in commercial attire.” Much of the park appears run-down, but seems to have a solid foundation.

While she partook in the project of documenting the park, De Wilde, a tall blonde woman, found that she stood out in the park – for the tourists, she became a character in the show created at the park, something she found exhausting. She would even hide with the little people “to be free of the claws of the tourists…they want to touch you and have a part of you.” After she got home, De Wilde spent about a year culling through her images; during this time, she even received letters from some of the people claiming they’re happy and thankful to be working at the park, something that De Wilde viewed as a bit suspect.

From her statement, De Wilde writes,

 

“I embarked on an adventure with a handful of ethical questions about commercializing social care. Every story has two sides but in this place every question and every answer seemed contradictory. My adventure ended up as a modern anti-fairytale, a collection of images of my making, and theirs. My own trick forced upon myself.” (via lens culture and slate)

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Photographer Khalik Allah Captures The Ups And Downs Of Nightlife In Harlem, From Smiles To Struggles

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Photographer and videographer Khalik Allah has been shooting candid photos on the streets of Harlem since 2012. Having developed a relationship of trust with those in the neighborhood he frequents, his photographs reveal, softly, but emphatically, a side of city life that is struggling and raw. Allah ventures into the night alone, with his camera and a few rolls of film, and through him we meet those he crosses along the way.

There is such a fine line, in photographing marginalized communities, between documentation and exploitation. When is the camera no longer communicating a reality and instead romanticizing the hardships? When has our empathy, or humanity, turned to voyeurism? Although addiction and poverty are notable characters in Allah’s photographs, they manage to refrain from becoming the central focal point, and his work extends itself with just as much heart as it does grit. Allah muses on his website about this very topic:

“I feel it’s impossible for any photographer to maintain objectivity. The photographer always has a literal point of view, camera choice, light choice, and many other choices; by default these choices will always make it a subjective form. Subjectivity doesn’t diminish the power a photograph may contain.”

Allah walks the line with a conscientious sort of fragility, and has catalogued a selection of work that shows darkness as well as light. There is a light that remains, and sometimes shines out. Allah has crept close enough to show us the souls through the eyes, in case we forgot to look for ourselves. (Excerpt from Source)

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Awesome Video Of The Day: Lets Face Symmetry

32 seconds of symmetrical bliss courtesy of 2veinte. Watch the full video after the jump.

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