In deconstructing Barbie dolls and repurposing them as jewelry for “Plastic Bodies Series,” the designer Margaux Lange forces us to enter an uncomfortable space between disgust and worship of the iconic toy. Barbie, who has been a target of the last decades’ feminist debate, occupies an ambiguous role in the social and sexual development of girls; she exudes sexuality with her adult figure, but she also remains virginal, never revealing her nipples or genitalia.
Lange’s work powerfully evokes the girlhood tension between reverence and anger felt towards the doll and its conflicting representation of female eroticism. At its most practical, the art is a function of style; elevated to the status of precious jewels, Barbie’s eyes and breasts inspire nostalgia and desire. Yet the doll is so clearly dismembered, and therefore violently objectified, and her selfhood becomes reduced to a series of nearly identical body parts, arranged for your consumption.
Arguably, the most compelling of the works include Barbie’s male companion doll Ken. Although the dolls often serve as play actors for a child’s early exploration of sexual desire and experience, their plastic forms obscure and confuse concepts of intimacy. In isolating the dolls’ features, Lange is able to express more clearly-seen longings within the previously sterile dolls; they become fixated between metal filigrees, robbed of their eyes but permanently in contact with one another. In use, the relationship between the owner and the doll also reaches new levels of fetishistic fascination. In one pair of earrings, doll hands reach out to touch the curve of the human neck; a necklace allows a tiny pair of metal lungs, filled with the breath of Barbie and Ken, to lay atop the wearer’s own chest. Take a look. (via Margaux Lange and BUST)
Everyone’s Time Is Their Own is the latest project by curator Gabe Scott. The exhibition title is borrowed from the curator’s grandmother, who held it as her philosophical way to life and death. Each of the artists encompass in their work something deeply spiritual, contemplative in the exploration of their practice as well as the surrounding world.
The works selected are representative of the fleeting moments in life that are permeated by a sense of musicality or lux. Depictions of figures play a prominent role throughout the exhibition, often appearing solitary or faceless, disconnected and searching. Body and soul are paradigms that often find themselves at odds in discourse. Individuals die alone but they take a part of their loved ones with them, this leaves the bereaved musing interconnectivity, lonesomeness, and the vast possibilities associated with continuity. Life and death cannot be bottled up, instead remembered through the slow turning lens of nostalgia.
Christopher Janney’s work often activates multiple senses simultaneously, using both visual and auditory stimulation to evoke emotional responses to viewers. Calling it a ‘sonic portrait’ of Miami, his work Harmonic Convergence combines sound, light and interactive elements to emulate a positive experience of place in an otherwise sterile airport environment.
Located in a pedestrian walkway leading from the car rental buildings to the airport proper, Janney replaced the existing windows with a prismatic arrangement of colored glasses. Columns and design elements were also repainted white, to better catch the sun’s lights streaming through the colored glass. This was Janney’s second installation at the airport, succeeding his previous piece, Harmonic Runway.
Like most of his work, sound plays an important part of this installation as well. According to Jenny Filipetti at Designboom, “Speakers installed at regular intervals along the walkway create a continuously changing ‘sonic portrait’ of South Florida as they play the sounds of tropical birds, thunderstorms, and other environments native to the region. Video sensors at either end of the passageway track visitor movement, causing changes in the density and composition of the sound piece relative to the number of passengers in the space.” (via designboom)
Artist Randy Ortiz has been tantalizing the eyes of illustration fans for years, illuminating concert and movie posters both professionally and as creative tasks for a great imagination. While past work emphasized ink line work and detailed black and white charcoal drawings, recent work has become more colorful, with flat background colors which perhaps surprisingly emphasize the darker thematic weight in the mystical figures and composition.
The self-taught Canadian artist uses evolved techniques to illicit a near-Surrealistic response from his often-human figures, draped in masterfully rendered drapery and fabrics. Despite the often serious undertones immediately noticeable in his work, the obvious sense of humor is evident (mutant visual remixes of Drake’s oft-mocked album cover seen below for example). In other works hooded figures clamor over each other, all reaching for a disembodied hand holding a small heart talisman representing love, or mystical-triangle-eyed cats eye floating balls of string. With Ortiz’s visual narratives and painting style evolving at a rapid pace, he is definitely ahead of other illustrator/artist to watch.
Since his tragic death, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s image has fluttered on and off of our computer screens more times than we can count. When we lose celebrities who’ve influenced us, we might search for solace in a single work of art that captures an intimate expression of some larger cultural current; we elevate the photographic likeness of stars to the status of a late relative, bookmarked online rather than carried in a wallet.
A few short weeks ago, Hoffman and fellow actors sat for the photographer Victoria Will at the Sundance film festival, and her photographs serve as a testament to the worshipful and nurturing ways in which we consider celebrity. The series is unusual for Will’s choice to use tintype, a photographic process popular in the mid-1800s. As the artist positions her sitters behind a reverent lens, the prolific subjects themselves becomes elevated by the sheer amount of work needed to produce their image. In this way, the work harkens back to an era when people treasured the photograph of a loved one and maybe only sat for one shot throughout a lifetime.
Will refers to the process as “finicky” and “honest;” the images recall the work of Moyra Davey, a photographer who wrote on the power of accidents in the medium. With the remarkably delicate crinkling of emulsion and subtle and unintentional chemical happenings, each subject becomes marked and qualified by the artist’s accidental movements and sporadic perceptions. With each astounding frame, our idols beg the question, “Will this be the image by which you remember me?” (via 22 Words and Esquire)
We at Beautiful/Decay don’t usually post about our own work but we thought that our readers would enjoy this short documentary about Beautiful/Decay founder and artist Amir H. Fallah. Documentarian Edward Symes traces the origins of B/D from zine to magazine and also gives you a glimpse into Fallah’s studio and new series of works. You can also read a short interview with Fallah on Symes’ Frontrunner Magazine.
Overloading, as you can clearly see, is a serious problem in China; about 80 percent of trucks (or any means of transportation used to transport goods) are overloaded. These vehicles have been damaging the country’s already-crumbling highways and they have been the cause of collapsed bridges in the past. This bizarre collection of photographs,published by China Foto Press, reveal the heartbreaking reality of the statistics, as we see here the incredible amounts of junk that these tiny transportation vehicles carry on a daily basis. Although amusing and puzzling at first, these colorful and peculiarly beautiful compositions beg for awareness and possibly a chance for change.
“Highway and bridge tolls in China are too high for transportation companies. Sometimes, they can account for as much as 20 percent of the total expense. Therefore, many companies carry too much freight to try to make trips more profitable and compete with rivals.” - Cui Zhongfu, secretary-general of the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing.
The rivalry over transportation companies has cost China about a dozen collapsed bridges each year. For instance, Qiantang River in Hangzhou, a bridge that was designed for vehicles weighing only 30 tons and trailers weighing 55 tons, was abused by truckers carrying loads in excess of 100 tons. The bridge finally gave in and collapsed in July 2011, when a 129-ton truck tried to cross it. In the same month, a bridge in Yancheng and another 301-meter steel-arch bridge in Wuyishan, Fujian province, collapsed. Both bridges had been built about 10 years ago. (Via Amusing Planet)
In the photographic series Processed Views, valleys of Fruit Loops surround a lake of milk, while marshmallows create a hazy, pillowy landscape. Shot as a collaboration between Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, the photographs interpret the frontier of industrial food production as the line between science and nature grows thin. In a statement about the work, the pair writes, “As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
These photographs are simultaneously appealing and disgusting. Ciurej and Lochman have set the scene and produced grandiose, often idyllic looking landscapes that mimic splendor you’d find in the natural world. However, when you remember that these a mixture of real food and unpronounceable chemicals additives, it’s hard to find them as attractive. The crashing waves of syrupy sticky Coca-Cola is not somewhere that I’d like to visit.
The style of Processed Views references the work of Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). He is famous for his photographs of the American West, framing it as a land of endless possibilities. Ciurej and Lochman go on to write about the photographer, who was commissioned by the corporate interests of the day including the railroad, milling, and mining industries. “Watkins embodied the commonly held 19th century view of Manifest Destiny – the inevitability of America’s bountiful land, justifiably utilized and consumed by it’s citizens,” they write. Now seen as the land of excess, the series is a metaphor for the manifest destiny of processed foods. (Via Makezine)