Beautiful Photographs Relentlessly Capture A War-Torn Lebanon Without Victimization

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Amidst the violence and chaos ravaging parts of her native Lebanon, the photographer Rania Matar does not aim to make sweeping political statements about the Middle East; with her complimentary bodies of work titled Ordinary Lives and What Remains (now on display at Houston’s Bank of America Center), she hopes to capture the resilience of the human spirit. Fighting the photographic and documentary urge to re-victimize survivors of war, she offers a more nuanced picture of the lives of Lebanese women and children.

Much of Matar’s work explores global representations of femininity—in a recent monograph, she published images of adolescent girls inhabiting a space between freedom and familial responsibility, the childhood bedroom— and in Ordinary Lives, the artist’s powerful sensitivities color the otherwise bleak black and white war-torn landscape. In “Broken Mirror,” a young woman meticulously adjusts her veil before a shattered mirror, her perception of self seen as fractured by her environment but preserved within her emotional core. Similarly, “Dead Mother” captures the veiling process as a ritual connecting female youth to a monolithic photograph of the matriarch, an undercurrent of modern political and social debate serving as a relentless backdrop.

What Remains operates as an arguably less subjective series of architectural photographs, documenting the aftermath of 2006’s war between Israel and Hezbollah. The series separates itself from Ordinary Lives in its deliberate use of color; the bright blues and yellows read like surrogates for the displaced families that once inhabited the violated spaces, offering a powerful tonal continuation of the striking and complexly seen human spirit captured in Ordinary Lives. Where we once viewed children, embracing the walls in rich gray tones, we are offered  a Winnie the Pooh wall hanging, daydreaming beside an empty closet. Take a look.

Jennifer Trask Sculpts Delicate Objects Out Of Bones

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Artist Jennifer Trask counts bone as one of the media used in her elaborate sculptures. Bending, carving, and gilding, she constructs bouquets of antlers, gold, and other found objects, some dating as far back as the 18th century. There is a certain level of awe that comes from viewing these labored works as Trasks crafts delicate flowers out of material that we only know as being stiff and obtuse. She emphasizes craft, while at the same time making things ghostly realistic. Her work is described by the Lisa Sette Gallery as having “sprouted from an enchanted seed… Trask’s objects emit an unmistakable air of magic.

The process is undoubtedly important to her work. In order to manipulate her carved-bone works, she must know how and in what deer antlers need to be cured, and what kind of solution of vinegar will soak a python’s rib to make it easily malleable. Despite this knowledge, her goal for her work is much more simple than that. She states, “That’s what I’m trying to claim when I go into the studio. I want to make something that I believe could be real, something that could have happened on its own.”

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Cynthia Greig Transforms 3D Objects Into 2D Representations

Cynthia Greig

Cynthia Greig

Cynthia Greig

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For Cynthia Greig‘s project, “Representations,” the artist whitewashes objects with ordinary white house paint before using charcoal to outline the items, then photographing the transformed objects against a white background. The effect renders the image as two-dimensional, appearing to be digitally manipulated or hand-drawn. The objects used, now in black and white, appear more iconic and symbolic than they would appear unaltered. In her artist statement, Greig explains that her work is an homage toWilliam Henry Fox Talbot and his treatise, “The Pencil of Nature.” Greig’s photographs ask observers to consider the truth of photography by challenging our perception of the reality of common objects.

“I’m interested in how we learn to see, identify and remember, and the role images play in the codification of perceptual and mnemonic experience. By denying certain aesthetic expectations and assumptions, Representations intends to interrupt a more conventional, passive viewing experience, and provoke the viewer into seeing a photograph as if for the first time.” (via my modern met)




Kaveh Golestan’s Photographs Of Iran’s Red Light District

From 1975 until 1977, Iranian photojournalist Kaveh Golestan captured the lives of the women in Tehran’s red light district. Although primarily known for documenting war and conflict in the Middle East, Golestan’s project involving these women gives light to a different issue, one that has not seen the spotlight in years if not never in Iranian society.

“Some of the women were tragically charred to death during the blaze and several others were arrested and later faced the revolutionary firing squads in the summer of 1980.”

Golestan’s series, comprised of 45 black-and-white photographs, reveals an honest but explicit look the women that lived this lifestyle in a region formerly known as Citadel of Shahr-e No. Due to their rare and insightful qualities, the photographs where immediately released in the Iranian newspaper ‘Ayandegan’ and later, in 1978, they were shown at the University of Tehran. The exposure of such imagery, however, alarmed authorities, and the exhibition was shut down after 14 days without an official explanation. A year after the exhibition, the Citadel (the place where Golestan shoot these photographs) burned to the ground during the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Today, these photographs remain as records of Iranian history but also an a courageous and beautiful series of art photography. Today, Golestan’s “The Citadel”, an exhibition devoted to these women, will be showing at Foam in Amsterdam starting in March 21 until May 4th, 2014.  Apart from the images, the exhibition will also feature Golestan’s personal journal entries and essays relating to his experiences traveling the region, illuminating the stories of the Citadel’s forgotten women. ( via Huff Post)

Christopher Payne And Two Other Artists Who Combine Music And Art

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Marc Potter

Christopher Payne

Christopher Payne

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Photographer Christopher Payne captures what goes on at One Steinway Place, the factory where people transform raw, messy materials into Steinway pianos, some of the finest musical instruments in the world.  The level of craftsmanship is impressive and Payne’s photographs portray the quality of work while exuding a deep level of respect.  As Payne said of the project, “the opportunity to look deep inside it [the factory] revealed to me one of the supreme and most discerning accomplishments of the human hand and imagination.”

Marc Potter creates his “Rainy Day Instruments” by incorporating parts from retired musical instruments with vintage and antique objects.  Each piece is an unusual, unique new instrument with a distinct sound.

Jean-Pierre Gauthier considers himself an artist, inventor and musician.  Each of these traits goes into his kinetic sculptures and installations.    Using a variety of materials, electronics and other repurposed odds and ends, Gauthier transforms everyday objects into sculptures that move, make noise and seem to have a life of their own.

Marcello Barenghi’s Photorealist Drawing Demonstrations

Marcello Barenghi

Professional illustrator and graphic designer Marcello Barenghi has a long and successful career rendering visual narratives and designs. But recently his drawing demonstrations have given the Milan-based draftsman a new following, as his Youtube video series routinely tops over a million hits per video.

With stop-motion demonstrations showing how Barenghi renders commonly found objects ranging from crumpled snack chip bags, Euro coins and more challenging objects like mirrored silver teapots, viewers can watch how a master draftsman achieves his trademark photorealistic results. Although few students of pencil, graphite and airbrush will ever achieve the results Barenghi does, they can at least see the unlimited potential of the blank page when the artist demonstrates each step by step video. (via gizmodo)

Haunting Photographs Catalog The Effects Of Mental Illness

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In her recent work, the photographer Lisa Lindvay archives the indirect yet undeniable marks left on her family and their home by her mother’s mental illness. With the family landscape surviving as her constant foundation, she invites viewers into a claustrophobic space isolated from the perspective and normalcy of the outside world. Although we are given indicators of their location— McDonald’s bags, generic soda, a “Legalize Gay” wristband—the family appears as if entombed in a time capsule, each member left to fend for themselves since the onset of the matriarch’s illness.

The camera acts as an active character throughout the narrative, forcing intimacy when the closeness and comforts of family seem irrevocably fractured. Eye contact is avoided with all creatures and things aside from the lens itself, which somehow breaks boundaries and transcends each subject’s seemingly self-imposed solitude. Intimate and sensual moments— the applying of hair dye, half-nude lounging, naps with the loyal dog— are generously laid bare for the artist, providing viewers with intermittent flickers of hope.

In her still lifes, otherwise mundane or grotesque subjects are assigned deeper meanings. The artist worshipfully documents trash, each object appearing like a pitiful symbol of continuing life and hope amidst crippling circumstances. A jar of cheese puffs is seen from the floor and lit from an unknowable source, as if standing at the alter of some personal cathedral; an oily ring on a pizza box surrounds a golden mane like the halo of a forgotten saint. As the family faces an uncertain future, half-eaten pizza and dirty socks become the only reminder that time has not in fact stood still within the house; Lindvay captures each with beautifully archival rigor as if to denote days on the calendar. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)

Ivan Puig Makes Cars Sink Into The Ground As If It Were Quicksand

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Artist Ivan Puig likes for his work to surprise and amaze, and two of his series, Fed Up and Artificial Growth do just that. Using a car and chair, respectively, he gives the illusion that these very solid, massive objects have sunken into the ground, as if they are in quicksand.  The preciseness of Puig’s work and the fact that he’s cut the chair backs and Volkswagen Beetle at a perfect angle add to the believability of it all. While the artist strives for his work to have humour, he wants the viewer to read it in multiple ways, and glean various metaphors from his playful execution.

His installations are not only meant to delight us, and the sinking chairs in Artificial Growth have a more serious message. This piece comments on educational doctrines and their power structures that are present in Mexico. With this series, he brings to light the idea of the artificial education – like the lies and half truths taught and passed down to students which we only realize are wrong many years later.