Images of John Malkovich dressed as Marilyn Monroe and Andy Warhol have been circulating the Internet the past few days. Although we’ve all been marveling at the actor’s ability to recreate these iconic images, I decided to dig a little deeper.
The Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich series (to be exhibited at Catherine Edelman Gallery November 7th) is as impressive as it is enjoyable; not only does Malkovich do a spectacular job of impersonating the (almost) inimitable celebrities, Sandro Miller should also be given credit for imitating each distinct style of photography. Anneliese Cooper points out in her article for Art Info that Malkovich possesses some amorphous quality with the ability to personify almost anyone, even though his facial features are rather unmistakable. She identifies – as the Millers series implies in name as well – that the film Being John Malkovich (written by Charlie Kauffman) somehow predicted or identified this inherent chameleon character of Malkovich.
What you probably have not seen, are Millers original portraits of Malkovich. They demonstrate the actor’s unbelievable ability to transform, and also Miller’s skillful curation of props and scenes to offer Malkovich the opportunity to express such a broad range of emotion. Malkovich’s emotional vocabulary spans disparity, rage, nonchalance, and a slew of other expressions that honestly, cannot be summed in a single word.
Photographer Josh Cheuse got his break back when people still used payphones and punk was still alive. At age 16, he used some spare change and a lot of guts to call up The Clash. He wanted to photograph them, they agreed, and the rest — as they say — is history.
“I just loved music, and with no musical talent it was my way in – my contribution to the party,” Cheuse said in an interview with It’s Nice That. “I loved documentary photography and war photographs and the music scene had the same excitement level with less immediate danger.”
It started with The Clash and never stopped. Cheuse’s 30 years of photography can be seen at his latest exhibition, “Grooving Years,” at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York City. It features exclusive photographs from all over the musical world, from Run DMC to the Beastie Boys to Lady Gaga. One of Cheuse’s most frequent subjects was Joe Strummer, Cheuse’s dear friend as well as, of course, the frontman of revolutionary punk band The Clash.
Asked about his relationship with Strummer, Cheuse answers, “Great friend, guru, mentor, teacher, partner in crime. I miss him something awful.” That’s the secret to Cheuse’s photographs: They capture his subjects close-up in a way that, instead of being exploitative, is simply honest and human.
“Grooving Years” opened a week ago on September 18th and runs until October 11th, 2014. For more information, visit the gallery website.
At first glance, media artist Nicholas Hanna‘s installation looks like some kind of DIY gallows. It’s sparsely constructed: just wood and string set before a simple $20 table fan. Below the string, a tray filled with liquid soap — death by Mr. Clean, perhaps?
Then the machine kicks into gear, dipping the string into the soap, drawing it up slowly, and suddenly an iridescent bubble blooms out of nothing. Magic.
Hanna works seem to incorporate one part engineering and two parts childhood wonder. One of his other pieces is a Beijing tricycle that, as the rider pedals, uses water droplets to write Chinese calligraphy in Courier New. Another piece utilizes motion sensors to cause a cascade of light depending on how a candle flame is shielded by a hand. And another still is a long gunmetal trumpet mounted on a toy truck, labeled simply as “Fire Truck #1.” What does the fire truck do? It starts sounding the alarms at 7:30 p.m., of course.
The bubble machine — “Bubble Device #1,” naturally — is another one of these curiosities. It’s unusual to see beautiful bubbles created by something as sterile as Hanna’s spare framed machine, in an environment as austere as a plain white-walled room. But the wonder is still there.
Raised a Catholic, and using obvious religious iconography, Liz Maw like to paint other-worldly and sublime beings. By combining the faces of celebrities or people she knows and admires with pseudo-mystical relics she glorifies them. Maw draws on many different periods and styles, mixing contemporary symbols with techniques from the Old Dutch masters, her subjects in poses akin to many Renaissance works. It is this mix of old and new; mundane and divine; hyper-realism and fantasy; sacred and profane that makes her work at once beautiful and comical. As one critic said:
“Her sleek paintwork resembles air brushing in its precision, offering a surrealism somewhere between Salvador Dali and the kind of hot-rod paintings which stretch across panel vans. Liz’s paintings are drenched with a sense of desire, beauty and power.” (source)
Her “Colleen” painting features a beautiful naked woman perched on a cloud surrounded by floating seashells and in a glowing sky illuminated by lightning. Intentionally referring to The Immaculate Conception painting, Maw manages to rework something old and accepted with a kitschy, slightly erotic spin. Talking about what is “distasteful” and what isn’t, Maw likes to challenge people’s standards. She says she doesn’t understand why some people will accept a painting of a figure with one breast covered, and others would think it to be inappropriate.
“I think that female sexuality is a very mystical thing… I don’t think that romance goes seamlessly into sex for women really. Maybe it can, maybe it can’t. A lot of women disconnect romance from sex. I don’t know why that is. “
She wants to paint to encourage more warmth and softness, and less judgement. And I think one painting at a time she will.
A screenshot, or screen capture, is a tool that’s existed on computers for a very long time, and it’s an easily accessible modern-day archival method. In just a split second, we can take a snapshot of our desktop or movie screen and save it later use. For Japanese artist Toru Izumida, this simple process is used to create collage-esque artwork.
“I use selections of online media to create unexpected combinations that are finalized into a single screenshot,” says Izumida. “The exact date and signature of the creation is recorded on every work.” We see multiple screens open and contain pictures of textures, people, landscapes, and more. Izumida arranges them, varying the window size before capturing the final product on his Mac. The fractured layouts are then turned into prints, and elevates the ubiquitous tool into the realm of fine art. (Via Spoon and Tamago)
Syver Lauritzsen and Eirik Haugen Murvoll set up a paint sculpture that tracks the moods of people in Oslo (where they go to school) through their posts to social media. Each time someone tweets that they are happy, sad, angry, or what have you, a program that Lauritzsen Murvoll created assigns a colour to it. As demonstrated in the video, happy is a pink colour, angriness is black, and a number of other colours are left undefined. Though the project is small in scale, it serves an interesting purpose and leaves a lot of opportunity for further exploration. One imagines what it would look like if there were multiple posts representing different cities. It’s a great way to visualize the information.
Artist Holton Rower, who uses the paint pouring technique to create three-dimensional paintings, inspired the format for Lauritzsen and Murvoll’s project. The men had to go through a few different modes of representation for aesthetic value. They tried having each individual mood tweet release a colour, but also averaged a mood over a period of tweets. According to the artists, latter was more aesthetically appealing because the information was more simple, but the former was evidently a more accurate depiction of how the city was feeling. (Via I Heart My Art and Wired)
Norwegian-born, Seattle-based artist Sail Uselessarm has a somewhat comic-like and dark style of illustration. Most of his work is labeled as mixed media, with use of gouache and acrylic, amongst other mediums. What really stands out in his work is the stark contrast between the background and the subject, the intense and heavy shadowing within the scene, and how this tight control of light creates an ambiance of film noir that feels very photographic and, in the same breath, filmic. His tendency to off-center the compositions reveals an implied motion that is also quite cinematic.
Concerning his work, Sail related the importance of the narrative:
“I try to tell a story with each piece or at least hint at a larger narrative. Suggest a history, a movement, even if you’re only seeing a moment… I think the weight of that history should exist in that moment. We’re defined by our experiences. I don’t think art is any different. Pulling from folklore and mythology as I do a lot of these characters come with a story, so it’s hard to not have some of that come through in trying to represent them.”
Sail will have a new body of work up in his next show, titled “Canna Intrat,” opening in Seattle at the Roq La Rue Gallery on October 2nd and showing through November 1st.(Excerpt from Source)
For six years the Dutch photographer Willeke Duijvekam followed the lives of Mandy and Eva, documenting their inner and outer attempts to align their sex assignments at birth with their gender identity — both girls were born as boys.
“Willeke Duijvekam reveals how for both girls the radical transformation into self-confident young women was chiefly an internal process. Her subdued photographs show how Mandy and Eva are absorbed in their everyday activities, or in their own thoughts. They are two remarkably normal girls — the one more vivacious, the other quieter — who do nothing other than live according to the dictates of their feelings.” (Source)
Duijvekam presents this series as an ingenious photo book, Mandy and Eva. The best designs enhance the subject matter, bringing new interpretations and depth to the work without taking over the narrative. In Duijvekam’s book, the subtle photos of the two transgender girls are incorporated into an interleaved book. In the video of the book, the pages are separate but related, each girl always present in the other’s spreads, advancing and retreating at the turn of a page. It is a masterful match of form and content. The book progresses backward through time, reversing the expected progression and reinforcing that these are two girls. The bodies that they were born into are much less important than the bodies in which they have become themselves.
“In my work I am guided by what moves and surprises me. … Ideas for projects are constantly unfolding and possibilities reveal themselves around every corner. The trick is to be open enough to recognize them the moment they appear and driven enough to pursue them. Diversity is what draws me to the people I meet, but at the same time I’m fascinated by our similarities.”