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These Delicate Victorian Figurines Have Some Badass Tattoos

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The Victorian doll is a symbol of feminine delicacy and piety, but the Scottish sculptor Jessica Harrison has turned that notion on its head, constructing porcelain figures and painting their flesh with vivid sailor tattoos. Harrison, previously featured here for her graphic and macabre figurines, subtly builds upon contemporary dialogues of sexuality and the female body. Where Victorian women were encouraged to be sexually modest, religious and sober, Harrison’s dolls adopt the visual language associated with drunkenness and sexual freedom on the high seas. Sailors, feared for their rowdy traditions, were thought of as the antithesis of the ideal woman, who was almost always middle class, white, home-bound.

Harrison’s dolls, like many Victorian woman, wear corsets and petticoats of soft, pastel hues; one even modestly holds a fan. But these seemingly coy women obviously have some ruffian pasts. Tattooed on one woman’s pale arms are the names of a dozen conquests: Daisy, Rita, Maria, Eileen. Unlike the figurines treasured by small Victorian children, Harrison’s characters seem to have anachronistically accompanied Sailor Jerry on his boozy pin-up filled adventures. Beside a budding rose sewn into the color of her dress, a lady reveals a pair of flying swallows, an icon that appears frequently in mid-20th century sailor tattoos.

Harrison’s impressive series coyly lays bare the deeply entrenched sexism, racism, and classism of the Victorian era, during which women were not permitted to vote or visit pubs. With their waists cinched and their hair powdered into elaborate updos, these seemingly fragile porcelain figures contain an undeniable grit that transcends all social barriers.

Harrison’s work is currently on view at Galerie LJ in Paris. (via Lost at E Minor and Colossal)
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Kerry Skarbakka’s Photographs Of Himself Falling From Trees, Bridges, And Off Cliffs

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Artist Kerry Skarbakka creates Struggle to Right Oneself, a series of photographs that capture the artist himself in moments of suspended threat: falling from trees, tumbling head over heels in painfully precarious falls, or teetering on the edge of a fateful leap from a railway bridge. The images may be comical yet unavoidably painful to watch. According to Skarbakka, the idea of the fall comes from Martin Heidegger’s description of human existence as a process of perpetual falling. What are we without our falls and broken bones? The photographer captures a loss of control, that inevitable moment, prior to a fall, when one feels uncertain and scared, unable to know what happens next.

I continually return to questions regarding the nature of control and its effects on this perceived responsibility, since beyond the basic laws that govern and maintain our equilibrium, we live in a world that constantly tests our stability in various other forms. It is my understanding and my perspective, which relies on the shifting human conditions of the world that we inhabit. It’s exploration resides in the sublime metaphorical space from where balance has been disrupted to the definitive point of no return. It asks the question of what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go. Or what are the consequences of holding on?

Skarbakka utilizes special climbing gear and other rigging to achieve each shot, the final images, however, are truly convincing. (via Colossal)

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Street Artist Vermibus Dissolves Outdoor Advertising To Create New Imagery

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Dissolving Europe is the latest public art intervention series by Berlin-based street artist Vermibus. Using a hacked inter-rail ticket, he has been traveling Europe with an extensive set of billboard-lock keys, using them to illegally access print billboards and advertisement frames. Once opened, he uses various solvents and paints to alter the images, sometimes removing them entirely, and even cutting and pasting others. this process destroys and beautifies, blurring the already transgressive line of advert-hacking public art interventions. The artist states, “By using the advertising space and how the human figures are represented in that space, Vermibus is removing the masks that we wear and is criticizing advertisement which takes away a person’s identity to replace it by the one of the brand.”

Continued from his website, documenting the process, “Vermibus regularly collects advertising posters from the streets, using them in his studio as the base material for his work. There, a process of transformation begins. Using solvent, he brushes away the faces and flesh of the models appearing in the posters as well as brand logos. Once the transformation is complete, he then reintroduces the adverts back into their original context, hijacking the publicity, and its purpose.” (via lizartblog)

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Todd Baxter’s Photographs Fool Us Into Thinking That They’re Paintings

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Believe it or not, these images by Todd Baxter are not paintings. They are photos, crafted with a painterly touch that clearly demonstrates the photographer’s influence of other fine art media such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. Baxter loads his compositions with exquisite details, and we see hand-made badges, fur scarves, and even exposed entrails that make up his series Owl Scouts. The surreal coloring and controlled lighting makes it easy to forget that what we’re looking at is a well-considered photograph.

Narrative images tell the story of young scouts that trek through the wilderness and encounter a series of adventures. Some are neat, like when they find an owl that’s been burrowed underground. Other times are more gruesome and include a near-drowning and cut, bloody hand.

The formal considerations of the photographs and their subject matter can’t help but make someone think of Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. Baxter’s work is more surreal and dark, however, where the woods is a character in the tale of these young scouts. (Via Optically Addicted)

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Marwane Pallas’ Disturbing, Provocative Photographs Ooze Sexual Tension

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The French photographer Marwane Pallas’ painterly photographs contain within their borders an uncomfortable blend of allure and violence. His work centers around the body, honing in on its urges and most private yearnings. At times, the body itself is seen in profound sharpness, crystal clear, while it also sometimes bleeds sensual color, as if painted on a canvas. Pallas’ highly stylized images read more like murals than photographs, deliberately and seductively drawing us into a fictitious and allegorical narrative.

With his series What I Eat, the artist presents human appetite as an visceral marker of identity; a housewife is forced to eat her clothes iron, and a (possibly transgender) woman, having undergone a breast augmentation, munches on a plastic barbie doll, symbolic of the idealized female form. A cancer patient dips his cigarettes in ketchup, and a priest hesitates for just a moment before devouring a wooden crucifix.

In This Is My Body, religious allegorical icons stand in for an overwhelming eroticism. Eve in the Making presents the artist as still and pale as marble, wounded like Jesus Christ, engaging in an act of intimacy with a translucent head, whom we might imagine to stand in for God. In another self-portrait, a nose bleed causes blood, seen as wine like the blood of Christ, to drip over his parted lips into a glass below. A candle drips onto a pair of praying hands; on closer inspection, we see that the waxy light lays in place of a man’s erect phallus. Like Eve, the artist into apple that ultimately brings death, containing within it an ominous skull.

In Sur/Face, this sensualized physical body undergoes a metamorphosis, veering into a metaphysical and spiritual realm. Enchanted forests cover the artist’s head, and mossy roots stand in for veins. The flesh cracks open to reveal a layer of fresh new skin. Take a look.
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Lauren Renner’s Photo Series Invites Strangers To Write Stereotypes On Others’ Naked Bodies

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Around three years ago, Brooklyn-based photographer Lauren Renner began her project, “In Others’ Words,” a series that captures the vulnerability with which people self-identify. During a period of transition wherein Renner began to date women, the photographer started to notice people treating her differently, trying to categorize or label her because of her sexuality, even though she didn’t feel like a fundamentally different person. She found this observation fascinating and she began to wonder how others were stereotyped in accordance with their bodies and relationships. Renner’s project captures these intimacies by shooting her subjects in open, public spaces as well as having her subjects become vulnerable to strangers, allowing them to inscribe stereotyped descriptors onto each others’ naked bodies.

Renner says, “When it comes down to it, no matter who is labeling you, all of those words and constructs become a mish-mash inside of you, and seem to inform each other. Words carry a tremendous amount of power, which is why breaking away from some and holding onto others can feel so insurmountable. On the flip side of that coin, I think people tend to become very comfortable in the ways in which they categorize others, to the point where they may not even be aware that they’re doing it in the first place. ”

After all, at the end of the day we put people into boxes because subconsciously it makes them easier for us to mentally digest. Seeing people view my work for the first time was a huge experience for me because I got to see how people reacted when the boxes they were accustomed to had been taken away.”

“In Others’ Words” is an ongoing project and Renner is constantly seeking subjects of all ages, backgrounds, genders, identities, cultures, and abilities to participate. (via feature shoot)

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Florenica Durante’s Electric Photos Wrap Her Subject In A Spectacle Of Energy

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Photographer Florencia Durante’s series uses light to wrap her seated subject in a brilliant spectacle of energy.  It appears as fractured, gestural drawings that dances on the floor, up the bald man’s (named Ruso) legs and sometimes around his head or out the door. The white-yellow spirit is erratic and is chaotic.

In addition to having a drawn quality to them, these photographs are sculptural. Durante builds up form and by layering line upon line, taking into consideration the contour of the knees and the head. She creates a halo and a veil around her subject.

The light seems simultaneously helpful and terrifying. Ruso sometimes sits idly as it moves around and throughout him. Other times, he has his head in his hands waiting for impending doom.

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Jonny Sutton’s Photos Allude To Themes Of Pornography And Memory

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English photographer Jonny Sutton creates subtle but powerfully symbolic photography that alludes to various themes including the quotidian, sexual experiences, and memory.

Athough Sutton is interested in depicting scenes that are familiar to past personal recollections, the haziness and [sometimes] cinematic feel of his compositions make the viewer feel disjointed and distant to what they may otherwise feel very familiar with. Sutton’s recent series, Remains and Pornography, explore the memory of sexual experience through objects and familiar scenes that may trigger flashbacks to ones own past regarding sexual involvements.

Remains focuses on sex and the relationship it has with our surroundings. His photographs record the aftermath of a night of passion. By photographing what is left behind, the artist creates an interesting narrative that again brings the viewers to remember with hazy and distant thoughts.

His other series, Pornography, explores the themes of sexual documentation, pornographic films and violence, and the sexualization of children. In this case, Sutton uses a Barbie Doll and manipulates it in a way that presents the viewer with subtle, but obvious sexual positions. The artist’s prop here works as both the subject of his composition but also as a very important part of his concept and main messege. The dolls’ body, identifiable with the female form and a child’s innocence, is easily taken and manipulated to reenact sexual positions. This might be a reference to rape or a man’s power over a woman/child, however, its meaning is unclear and not explained by the artist himself. Nonetheless, it is certainly a logical conclusion to come to. Moreover, Sutton’s way of blurring the images leaves the spectator to witness a sequence of events that are blocked off and partially remembered [on behalf of whom is theoretically experiencing that manipulation,etc]. On the other hand, from an outsiders’ perspective, we acknowledge that the intrusiveness of the camera, or our gaze, in this case, is what makes the work the ultimate source of manipulation.

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