Artist Wen Fang has a way turning an eye toward the often overlooked. In a way, some of her work memorializes the unfortunately common. This first installation – a room filled with hanging knives printed with images of garbage – is titled Rain and illustrates this well. She explains the personal story and Chinese idiom behind the installation:
“One day I was on a public bus, heading to a suburban enclave not far from my home on the outskirts of Beijing. The road was lined on both sides by filthy, stagnant drainage ditches. The disgusting smell of the water wafted into the bus, immediately wiping out the hunger I was feeling a moment before. The water was blue-grey, and looked quite thick. The surface was covered in floating instant noodle packages, popsicle sticks, rotting vegetables and other garbage that couldn’t be sold as scrap. Suddenly I saw a stray dog at the edge of the ditch, trying to drink the water. Several times he would approach the water with his snout, only to be repulsed by the powerful stench. In the end, I guess he was just too thirsty, and he hesitantly stuck his snout in the water, taking a few gulps. It sent pangs through my heart. Lots of migrants live by the drainage ditches. Their kids run around like wild dogs, and are just about as dirty. About half of their toys were picked up along the side of this road. None of the adults control their actions, as these migrant workers are too busy trying to eke out a living, and the old people just sit there by the side of the road. The Chinese refer to these situations as knives raining down from the heavens…that is to say; this is the worst it can get…I don’t know if this is the worst possible situation, but these knives often cut right into my heart. That’s why I make them, so that everyone can see these knives. Economic development is a sound idea, but how much money does it take to be truly wealthy? I spent my childhood playing in the wilderness around here, while these kids are spending their childhoods playing on the trash heaps. I really wish these kids could grow up in gardens, just as we promised. But what I really don’t know is, when we finally have enough money, whether or not the garden will be anything more than a bunch of sharp knives.…”
Earlier this month Birmingham, England opened its grand new library in the city center. The city hopes that the impressive metal-clad work of art, which cost around $295 million to build, will become a key element in redefining Birmingham’s image. Currently the largest public library in the UK, and the largest public cultural space in Europe, the library is certainly hard to miss. Mecanoo with engineers, Buro Happold, were enlisted in 2008 as the designers behind the project after winning an international competition run by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Mecanoo designed the exterior of the building, with its filigree pattern of metal rings over gold and silver glass facades, to reference the city’s artisan tradition.
Speaking at the opening was Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who the Taliban shot for campaigning for women’s right to education. Now residing in Birmingham Yousafzai stated that “Let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one teacher can change the world.” In the first eight days of being open the library surpassed 100,000 visitors.
G-Shock and RESPECT. magazine have teamed up to showcase the work of some top, emerging art makers from across a variety of disciplines. The video series interviews four innovators: artist/sculptor Christophe Roberts, industrial designers Aaron Stathum and Eliot Coven and photographer Kareem Black. These individuals are exploring their own imaginations and finding new ways to their visions to life through their respective art forms. From sculpture, to photography to developing concepts for industrial design and products that improve our every day lives.
The industrial designs of Aaron Stathum and Eliot Coven are heart-warming, moving, and inspiring all at the same time. Seeing two graduate students come up with an ingeniously simple way to address the issues of clothes washing in remote areas or underdeveloped countries is positively energizing. Stathum and Coven designed their “UpStream: Developing World Washing System” while studying together at Philadelphia University. Their foot powered washing machine is built from materials that are easy to find the world over: a 5 gallon bucket, pipes and rope. Their goal was to make it easier for people to do laundry, cut down their laundry time, make washing more sanitary and keep detergents out of the rivers where washing usually takes place. This pair is truly inspiring and their simple solution to a worldwide problem will hopefully ignite a spark in others to follow suit.
Watch the full video featuring Aaron Stathum and Eliot Coven here.
Artist Nathan Walsh‘s paintings of urban environments seem impressively realistic. The attention to detail in turn demands the viewers attention to small pockets of each canvas. Varying textures, reflections on water and glass, effects of light are all captured so acutely, it’s nearly mesmerizing. Exploring each piece is similar to exploring that little patch of neighborhood as a tourist. However, it is Walsh’s careful attention to perspective that set his work apart. It is easy to understand why he may often be lumped in with a larger group of Photorealist painters. However, close consideration of his work reveals Walsh isn’t set on a meticulously faithful reproduction of a photograph or scene. Rather, he seems to endeavor to depict the idea of a space, the feeling of depth.
In his essay on the artist, Michael Parasko expounds on this and writes concerning Walsh’s use of perspective:
“The way Walsh constructs pictorial space takes two forms. The first is a horizontal extension and the second an illusion of depth. Both are exaggerated so that neither method results in the reproduction of nature; yet in such exaggerations Walsh has sought to create believable space. We are convinced into thinking these are images of the world as it is, but the truth is that space in these paintings is not really like the space we inhabit at all. They seem to prove Quintallian’s old adage, ‘The perfection of art is to conceal art.’…Although there is real quality in the way Walsh extends space in this lateral way, my personal view is that Walsh’s most individual works are concerned with the illusion of deep space within the canvas. In these there is a real sense of an artist balancing the need to maintain the illusion of reality with the desire to push the illusion of very deep space to its limits.”
This short video by French artist Marc-Antoine Lucatelli features dancer Lucas Boirat as he uses his body to manipulate an image of shape-shifting geometric light that is sourced from his hands. The energy behind Boirat’s dancing paired with the abstract energy of light gives this video and these gifs the effect of a push and pull between Boirat and the light. Boirat seems to dance to effect the balance of power between light and shadow, with the light ultimately returning to dust at the hands of Boirat. These modern martial arts inspired dance moves paired with the dreamy experimental music of EdIT create an experience that feels at once primal and futuristic. I find myself completely engrossed with Lucatelli’s video and the way he beautifully captures this stunning power struggle. (via my modern met)
Even in his commercial work French photographer Laurent Chehere clearly has a creative and curious eye for his surroundings. An avid traveler, Chehere enjoys exploring the cities he visits. This becomes especially evident in his series Flying Houses. The series contains a number of photographs of floating buildings. The buildings seem otherwise ordinary, perhaps tethered by power lines, quietly floating in the sky. Chehere achieved the effect by taking photographs of buildings throughout the suburbs of Paris and digitally manipulating them. A gallery statement (translated from French) from a recent solo exhibit explains Chehere’s inspiration for the series:
“The artist isolates buildings from their urban context and frees them from their stifling environment. Houses fly in the clouds, like kites. Inspired by a poetic vision of old Paris and the famous short film The Red Balloon by Albert Lamorisse, Laurent Chéhère walked the districts of Belleville and Ménilmontant gazing at their typical houses. The images of the artist seize an unexpected levitation: held to the ground by unseen hands, like so many balloons used by the boy, these old buildings floating in the sky, sliding on the surface, they reveal to us their hidden beauty. Some houses are adorned with drying laundry or flower pots, outweigh other brands and shops fleeing the flames of a fire … All seem to find a second life. Uprooted from their hometown, they go to new heights. It’s a true invitation to travel and metaphor for the transience of the world, Flying Houses Laurent Chéhère’s series plunges us into a dreamlike and changing world full of gaiety and humor.”
Roger Weiss is a Swiss-born photographer educated at the Accademia di Brera, in Milan. His fashion and fine art photography displays an obsession with the human form. Weiss teases sensuality and subversive themes from his subjects, flaunting them in evocative ways to touch on issues of the objectification of women.
Human Dilations is a study in the feminine form and foray into the subject of beauty and it’s stereotypes. A woman is often boiled down info a series of visual queues that objectify and define her. This project studies whether each form—in it’s distortion and elation—is a physical whole, or simply an object.
“Human Dilatations does not fear the marks of frailness of the body and its imperfections,” said Weiss. “But rather, encourages the female image to appear as a whole: a shape by itself, in a game of distortions that allows one to differently relate to the image, entirely detached from the stereotypical and hypocritical notion of beauty.” (via savage)
French artist Didier Massard’s photography had me perplexed until I looked more deeply into his process. Massard creates these amazing images by constructing a small detailed set design or dioramas and thoughtfully integrating lighting techniques. What strikes me most about these images is that they at first appear to be paintings or digitally rendered, but closer examination reveals layering and depth that is not possible to create digitally. I read how Massard uses manual techniques to create fabricated sets, but honestly could not believe the entirety of his process until viewing this short video, where he explains his work from his studio. In the video, he also explains how his work is inspired from real and imagined places, places he’d like to visit but realizes the limitations involved in this desire.The subjects of his work vary from nature to mythology to architecture, but all of them evoke a cinematic and magical realist quality.
Massard began working as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies, but once he began this meticulously fabricated photography work, he decided to stay focused on this personal project. All of his work is drawn from his own imagination, and he calls each image “the completion of an inner imaginary journey.” Because of the highly skilled and detailed work that goes into each set design and diorama, Massard produces only a few images per year, spending months considering the manipulations for each image. For Massard, his work succeeds when it breaches a border of truth and lies, dream and reality. His work is currently on display at Julie Saul Gallery in New York City until October 19.