With spring around the corner I can’t help but think about flowers, which led me to consider Anna Schuleit’s installation Bloom, 2003, a site-specific installation at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center in Boston. Though now over ten years old I feel the idea that art and beauty can heal is a powerful and ever-relevant concept. The installation consisted of over 28,000 flowers, 5,600 square feet of live sod and recorded sound that played over the old public service announcement system. The flowers and sod filled four floors of the historic building and the basement hallways.
The building, which was slated for demolition, had a long and complicated history, having hosted thousands of patients and employees over the years. Struck by the absence of both life and color after visiting the site, Schuleit conceived of BLOOM, reinvigorating the building with an impressive display of flowers and transforming it into a fantasy world for four days. After the installation Schuleit had the flowers donated to half-way houses and psychiatric hospitals throughout New England. As she said of the installation in her interview with Colossal, “I wanted these flowers to continue onward, after the installation. Bloom was a reflection on the healing symbolism of flowers given to the sick when they are bedridden and confined to hospital settings. As a visiting artist I had observed an astonishing absence of flowers in psychiatric settings. Here, patients receive few, if any, flowers during their stay. Bloom was created to address this absence, in the spirit of offering and transition.”
Check out more of Schuleit’s work at her website and read the full interview with her here. All images copyright Anna Schuleit.
Photographer Randy Taylor had around 40 years of work archived in a storage facility that he wasn’t allowed access to until weeks after Hurricane Sandy hit. He was aware of the possibility that his work might be damaged, but wasn’t prepared for what he encountered when he arrived at the storage unit. “I descended into the smelly, wet, and dark bowels of the powerless building, which had flooded floor-to-ceiling with contaminated water,” Taylor said via email. “What I found was a jumbled, gooey mess of papers and things 3 to 8 feet high. It took the first day to carve out a vertical space just 2 feet into the unit, so I could merely walk in the door.”
Taylor tried to salvage as much as he could, but the damage and mold was so intense, that he was only able to recoup a few dozen images out of around 30,000 he had in storage. The photographs he selected weren’t based on any method; he just wanted to save as many as possible. After he selected his photographs, he dipped them in an alcohol solution to clean off the mold and stave off further destruction, though the damage has already been done, and will likely worsen with time.
Despite the sad loss of professional and family photographs, photography equipment, computers, and financial records, Taylor is heartened by the attention his Hurricane Sandy photographs are now receiving.” It’s been satisfying to have my images noticed again. Thanks to Sandy, they are truly unique.” ( via juxtapoz and slate)
Caleb Charland (previously featured here and here) newest photography project features mesmerizing light displays using mostly fruit, a nail, copper wire, and the long exposure technique. These organic batteries produce enough of a current for Charland to capture the light’s illumination in these long exposure photographs.
“My current body of work, Back to Light, expands upon a classic grade school science project, the potato battery. By inserting a galvanized nail into one side of a potato and a copper wire in the other side a small electrical current is generated. The utter simplicity of this electrical phenomenon is endlessly fascinating for me. Many people have had the experience of drawing power from fruit in the classroom, and it never ceases to bring a smile to the face or a thought to the mind. This work speaks to a common curiosity we all have for how the world works as well as a global concern for the future of earth’s energy sources…my hope is that these photographs function as micro utopias by suggesting and illustrating the endless possibilities of alternative and sustainable energy production. The cycle that begins with the light of our closest star implanting organic materials with nutrients and energy, is re-routed in these images, Back to Light, illuminating earth once again.” (via this isn’t happiness)
David Mesguich (previously here) is known for his enormous polyurethane and recycled plastic public sculptures, bearing line and shape work that is reminiscent of both geometric or vectorized patterns. The Brussels-based artist’s latest work, PRESSURE 1.0, was installed on an elevated freeway which is known to be the gateway to the French city of Marseilles. The artist explains, “The story of “pressure”—it’s the story of people who are on the fence, in between worlds, those who are both on the inside and on the outside. My inspiration came from two sources: a family history that steeped me in a violent, carceral universe during my youth and more than 10 years of trespassing with graffiti.”
Created with the geometric features of a woman’s face, the statue seems to stare, both blankly and longingly. Meguich describes the placement as “… a non-place where the sculpture could look in the direction of Africa and face the whole city at the same time.” Because the statue was not authorized by French authorities, it was technically illegal, but Megiuch explains that his work is as much an unorthodox ‘gift’ as it is illegal. “Pressure is a non-profit project, it was not made to be sold. As with my previous public space sculpture, LUZ 1.0[a large-scale sculpture created for the Nuit Blanche Festival in Clichy, a suburbs of Paris], it was created as a donation to the city.”
According to writer Sara Barnes at My Modern Met, “Despite its illegal placement, the sculpture remained untouched for two weeks. After a bad storm, however, the sculpture fell to the ground and was seriously damaged. The weather lasted a week, and everyday a new part of it was broken until nothing remained” (via mymodernmet)
“I want to show that, despite stereotypes, that gay men can be masculine too.
“When I wear men’s clothes I feel comfortable and confident in how I look on the outside which now matches the inside.”
“I have been called a SNAG (sensitive new age guy), a renaissance man, a male in touch with his feminine side, etc….I think that I am masculine in the sense of self reliance.”
“I am strong emotionally, have always stood up for myself and fear nothing. I happen to be physically strong but that isn’t where I derive my masculinity.”
Philadelphia-based photographer Chad States creates ”Masculinities’, a series of photographs and text devoted to create real, tangible accounts of men and their thoughts on masculinity in order to expose the complexities and difficulties in trying to define the masculine. States, interested in creating a large sample of men and their accounts, exposes his project on Craigslist and only takes subjects who are interested in participating in this project.
“Growing up as a gay man in the U.S. I have always been aware of how men were supposed to act and I judged myself against these ideas. Masculinity was always something that was attractive to me but when I tried to unpack what made someone masculine I found it hard to define. Masculinity seemed based on relativity and shifted in different circumstances and cultures.”
The series, inspired by State’s own struggles with understanding conceptions of gender at an early age, set out to investigate the matter by photographing these men in their home. States explains that “the structure of the project created a special circumstance in which those who were still willing to participate had a strong need to have their own masculinity confirmed by the photograph.” The men got to choose the ways in which they were portrayed, they picked what they wanted to wear and they choose to stand by or sit in any position they felt truly comfortable in.
I used a 4×5 camera only taking about 8-10 shots per sitting, so the poses and choices are very intentional on part of the sitter.” (via Feature Shoot)
In the age of digital photography and Instagram filters that make things look fakely old, glass artist and photographer Emma Howell uses a technique that is opposite of the easy, fast-paced methods popular today. Not only does she go to painstaking lengths to print an image, but she uses the unconventional surface of glass. Howell crafts hand-blown vessels and prints landscape images on them using the technique of the wet plate collodion – a photographic process that predates the Civil War. The result is a subtle and moody piece that’s a conversation between photography and form. She tells Wired Magazine, “Most people are not able to experience a place that is unaffected by the human presence. So I’m creating a way for others to experience this in a way that’s more than looking at a flat print of the cliché beach we all see and know.” The shape of the glass informs what the image is. A ripple or imperfection is meant to echo waves in the landscapes.
Howell’s pieces are irregularly shaped, so she had to build her own camera to accommodate them. She studied how large format cameras were constructed and sawed a barrel in half to act as the camera’s body. Afterwards, she fashioned a mount that allowed her to attach a traditional lens to the barrel. After six weeks of trial and error, she had a working design and began shooting.
The process of transferring an image to glass is very involved. Howell hikes to remote areas with a miniature chemistry lab and darkroom in tow, working on the fly to mix up photosensitive chemicals, coat glass, expose shots, and develop the image – all in the span of 15 minutes.(Via Wired)
When her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, the photographer Isa Leshko faced the prospect of her own aging process and ultimately her own death; in refusing to photograph her family during that time, she retreated to farms where elderly animals were housed and photographed them for her series Elderly Animals. Many were rescued from factory farms where they had been genetically modified, abused, and they were therefore facing premature death; others were part of their caregiver’s families and always had been. Like she would with a human subject, the artist spent hours with her subjects, communing with them on straw beds and sometimes visiting them multiple times.
In the iconic Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes meditates on the poignancy of photographic memory, writing, “Whether or not the subject is already dead, every photograph is this catastrophe.” The well-seen photograph fixes a moment within the space between light and shadow, reminding viewers that the exact instant pictured can never be recreated. In her rich black and white tones, Leshko realizes the potential of her camera to make permanent her elderly bestial subjects, and in the process of remembering each creature, the viewer is forced to recognize his or her eventual death.
The artist writes in her artist’s statement, “I have come to realize that these images are self-portraits,” uniting the living, the aged, and the deceased under a single canopy of mortal experience. Within the glimmers of the blind bovine eyes, the bare bones of the rooster wings, the grey snouts and balding patches of fur, we might all recognize what we must someday leave behind, and we are forced to search for what remains within Leshko’s thoughtful frame. (via HuffPost)
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