At first glance, these creations might only look like small sculptures. But, they’re more than that. UK-based Conjurer’s Kitchen crafted these impressive pieces that are actually cakes. The yummy sponge cakes are shaped like surgeries, skulls, and cross-sectioned bodies. They’re bloody, decrepited, and deliciously disgusting. Conjurer’s Kitchen has expertly colored and painted the tiny details like veins on a skull
Annabel de Vetten is the woman behind these fantastic creations. Not surprisingly, she was trained as a sculptor and previously made a living as a painter. Her foyer into food art started when she made her own wedding cake. Now, she draws inspiration from horror films, alternative art, and more; she has a variety of clients. “It’s great! One day I’ll be working on a full-sized replica of the actor from the TV show Dexter for FOX, then I’ll be doing a wedding cake for a couple who runs an S&M business, and the next I’ll be doing a dragon for a wedding at Warwick Castle,” she says.
The Polish artist Pawel Kuczynski has created a new set of work themed around the megalomaniacal aspects of Facebook and social media in our lives. A prized satirical artist, Kuczynski has been winning awards for his work since 2004. Although the statements are not offensive, the themes are comical and instantly relatable, giving the viewer a humorous look at some of the harsh realities of our lives.
He covers a wide range of topics, “Pawel Kuczynski creates thought-provoking illustrations that comment on social, economic, and political issues through satire. The illustrator’s portfolio ranges from criticizing military practices and the incentives behind war, to themes of mortality and reinterpreting the uses of social media as elusive spying platforms. Each image reflects its fair share of serious issues balanced with whimsical illustrations.”
These illustrations highlight how Facebook has saturated our way of living: from bringing us closer together at times, to further apart at other times, to being a way of judging one another, to being a catalyst of the spread of knowledge, misinformation, and gossip, to how it has morphed our entire concept of proximity, intimacy, and communication.
Robin Schwartz’s photo-series Amelia and the Animals documents her daughter alongside animals as Amelia has grown in the past 12 years of her life. Schwartz’s photographic practice is predominantly of animals, but her daughter is the main focus of these photographs. In each one, Schwartz finds creative ways to have Amelia and the animals interact. You can see the ease with which Amelia interacts with the animals, having been surrounded by them her whole life. It’s incredible to see her nonchalance as well. Both mother and daughter feel a deep connection with the animals. In an interview with Science of Us, Schwartz says the first time she saw a chimpanzee she was in love. “We’re intensely drawn to primates because – well, because they are us, maybe.”
In the interview, she was also asked about the dangers of photographing her daughter with wild animals.
This is a question that gets asked so often. Most people ask Amelia, “Weren’t you scared?”You just have to be smart about it. We are as careful as possible. It’s a team effort, with Amelia taking directions from the caretaker. Amelia takes instructions well, and at this point, she does have experience.
The animals that hurt us the most are the mosquitos! We were eaten in Florida.
Joris Kuipers‘ installations are meant to be experienced viscerally. Inspired by bodily cross-sections from MRI scans, CT scans, and even botany, Kuipers’ artwork is alien yet immediately familiar. We are intimately familiar with the vascular bends and twists of his pieces, as well as the palette of reds and purples and blues.
Blown up to the size of huge wall reliefs, these biological artforms are also a little unsettling, particularly because they’ve been deconstructed, unmade, and re-formed into startling configurations. Organic deconstruction, after all, is just a hop skip away from decomposition. Of these twin concepts, Kuipers says: “Loveliness and morbidity; both Eros and Thanatos flow through my red lines.”
In some collections, Kuipers steps away from the blatantly macabre. “Letting Go” contains a brightly colored installation that looks like dreamy clouds or floating alien flowers. Other pieces in the collection involve splashes of color amidst a staid black background and plays with light, flashing and blinking at the touch of a switch. This too recalls the cathode ray tubes and autopsy scans of Kuipers’ other work, but from a subtler angle.
Subtler or not, Kuipers work is, as always, intended to be evocative. “I hope that my work will initially be experienced ‘from the abdomen’,” Kuipers says in an artist’s statement, “to gradually make itself felt in the mind of the visitor.”
Opening tomorrow, September 27, is Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large in the former San Francisco Bay prison, Alcatraz Island. The sculpture, sound, and mixed media installations are staged in four locations throughout the space: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. Ai’s work inside creates a dialogue about how we define liberty, justice, and individual rights.
In 2011, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days, and is still not permitted to travel outside of the country. He was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of the show and was developed in his studio with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation.
There are a variety of pieces in @Large, including Trace, which is 176 portraits of political prisoners and exiles made from LEGO blocks. The impressive works began at Ai’s studio in Beijing and were completed in San Francisco by a team of 90 volunteers. Cheryl Haines, the exhibition’s curator told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m overwhelmed by how remarkable it looks. This is the face of the individual in the fight for freedom, but it’s also a collective statement and to see the density and quantity of people that are incorporated in this work, I find deeply moving.”
In addition to Trace, there are six other themes: With Wind, a giant traditional Chinese dragon kite; Refraction, stunning metal wings; Stay Tuned, sound installation that occupies 12 cells; Illumination, the sounds of Tibetan Buddhist and Native American chants; Blossom, fragile floral bouquets; and Yours Truly, where visitors can write postcards to prisoners. (Via FOR-SITE and Artnet)
Tianmiao Lin‘s artwork combines household objects and human figures with a technique called “thread winding”: wrapping thread — or hair or silk — around an object until it is completely covered. The result is oddly tactile and organic, looking like something spun by a spider caught in a fevered dream. The use of string, Lin reveals in an interview with The Culture Trip, is partly for that very reason. They are organic and natural, and contain an element of mysterious strength. “The materials take on a life of their own,” Lin says.
When Chinese artists are discussed, it’s hard to ignore politics; Lin is no exception. As an artist — particularly a female artist — from a country that went through a rather recent revolution, her creations are rife with subtext whether intended or not. It’s difficult if not impossible to draw on the themes and symbols of family and femininity without also summoning the specter of their cultural context.
In a collection called “Mothers!!!,” pearls and webs of string become tangled cancerous masses on the backs of women, weighing them down. The pearls are beautiful but also destructive. In another installation called “Chatting,” several figures stand in a circle, heads bowed, seeking connection perhaps but resigned to the impossibility of it.
To be fair, Lin has rejected feminist and political readings of her work. As an artist, she most likely wants to defy labels and have her work speak for itself. Still, it’s hard not to feel a little glimmer of dissent and rebellion in her art — arising organically, woven into the very DNA of it, strand by strand.
Swedish photographer Pieter ten Hoopen has worked within all aspects of photography, from journalism to commercial. At this point in his career he is a well known and distinguished photographer: he has received many prestigious awards, amongst them the Photographer of the Year in Sweden, and the World Press Award; he has published books of photography on Tokyo and Stockholm, and is currently working on a film project about Hungry Horse, Montana, through MediaStorm.
Ten Hoopen shoots mainly on a Nikon but also uses Yashica box cameras and a Widelux. He has worked all over the world, and travels out of known safety to deliver raw and emotionally jarring footage from places far away, many in turmoil. In the past, he has worked in Pakistan, composing images from the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, an intimate glimpse into the pain and hardship as families continued digging through rubble in search of buried survivors. He shot the small village Vladimirskoe, Russia, which, lying next to the mythically invisible town of Kitezh, occupies a strange grey area of being juxtaposed next to a national attraction while being invisible and struggling itself; problems with alcohol and unemployment make life difficult for most of its inhabitants. In Japan, ten Hoopen visited a forest that lies below Mount Fuji, known informally as the “suicide forest,” where, yearly, nearly a hundred people travel there to commit suicide. The forest is dense with vegetation and stands on the remains of a volcanic eruption, making compasses completely useless and getting lost in the woods very easy. People tie ropes to trees to prevent themselves from getting lost, and many go in there with the intention of never coming out.
There is a stillness in his images, the composition forms its own poetry, and the emotional charge of the situations he encounters stand squarely in the frame. Within the same vein of documentary photography as Sebastião Salgado, ten Hoopen brings an unprovoked sense of art to the frame; providing a visual means with which we can connect to these feelings as viewers, even halfway across the globe, even never having stepped out of our own country. That is the most powerful aspect of this kind of a photographer, he gives voice to what he witnesses, and brings forth the unexplainable beauty and devastation that words cannot do justice to.
Following on from the trend of “Ruin Porn” or “Ruin Photography“, Japanese artist Satoshi Araki intricately creates miniature dioramas of bombed out cities or urban landscapes. He is attracted to anything that is in a state of decay. He is especially adept at reconstructing tiny details he finds through using Google Image Search. For example he searches for particular phrases (“Iraq war” or “Iraq ruins”) and meticulously recreates what he finds.
Obviously Araki has a sharp eye for details. Using knives and blades to scrape off paint and to add rust, he achieves realistic imperfections, turning a normal miniature scooter into a thing of amazement. He even adds cans with miniscule Arabic writing on them, tucked inside a box in one of his destroyed scenes of Baghdad. He makes sure to carefully smash the tiny windshield of a car, denting it in all the right places, and even adding a bent license plate all to create a believable environment. For such scenes full of violence and horror, he surely makes them a thing of beauty and wonder.
There is a strong sense of poetry in Araki’s work. He focuses on the destruction of man made buildings and objects – mainly being overtaken by nature. Trees grow over old rusted cars; grass forces it’s way through rotting rubber tires. And this is the fascination that other Ruin Porn artists have as well. They all capture the beauty of the world we have created around us crumbling to the ground. And just like Araki, they find joy in that chaos. They celebrate the beauty of the piles of rubble we live in.