In 2009, Brazilian artist Néle Azevedo created 1000 men and women figurines made out of ice for the completion of her Public art installation, The Minimum Monument (Melting Men). Throughout its life in the outdoor space, the ice figurines slowly melted until their disappearance. Originally placed in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt Square, the piece was to bring awareness of Global Warming. Minimum Monument was then installed in Ireland as part of the Festival of Queens; there, the artist, recreated the original in order to visually remind people of the melting ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica. Since then, the installation has travelled to many cities around the world and it remains internationally known as ‘climate-change art’.
I first encountered Russian artist Svetlana Petrova’s renderings of classic paintings, modified to include her very large, fat cat, a couple of years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find the artist is still re-creating paintings, and that her work has recently become a part of a gallery show in Abingdon, England.
Petrova’s mother died in 2008, leaving her cat, Zarathustra, behind. She claims her mother spoiled the cat, contributing to Zarathustra’s large stature. Petrova was very depressed after her mother’s death and wasn’t able to make art until a friend suggested she create an art project using the cat, and thus, Fat Cat Art was born.
Petrova says, “I’m a professional artist, and I was fond of Internet memes, and I thought maybe I can make an Internet meme who would at the same time [be] a work of art. And I did this.” But her confidence in her work was at first met with some hesitation. “I thought that I could hold an exhibition, but gallery owners said: ‘This is not art, this is just cats.’ I asked: ‘Why is a shark in the formaldehyde art, but and a cat in a classic painting is not art?’ Nobody could give me an answer, and these people began to avoid me saying that I am mad.” Eventually, though, her cat art won the hearts of the gallery in the UK.
Petrova has been most recently inserting her cat into movies, and she welcomes suggestions for fat cat placements via her Twitter, or the project’s website, whose disclaimer reads: “We are real. All the artworks at this site are real. Nobody’s opinion about Us, Our art or this site will ever disturb Our suprematism.” (via archie mcphee and huffington post)
For his powerful series 141 Boxers, photographer Nicolai Howalt shoots young amateur boxers in Denmark before and after their first brutal fight. The artist, known in part for his elegant images of car wrecks, once again finds an eerie beauty in violence, capturing sweaty faces sprinkled in fresh blood. On the left, his subjects present their game faces, poised in a moment of calm determination prior to the battle; on the right, the violence and competition has ended, leaving their faces bruised and swollen.
For these teenage athletes, the first foray into the ring presents itself as a rite of passage out of childhood and into manhood. Afterwards, they are irrevocably changed, as if all of puberty were condensed into a single test of machismo. As viewers, we might be unsettled to see these round, blushingly cheeks marked by punches; though outwardly baby-faced, Howalt’s subjects possess a knowingness and understanding of aggression that transcends their youth. Thrust into the environment of the controversial sport, these pimpled, wide-eyed adolescents are aglow with their own glistening sweat and an uncomfortable sense of adult virility.
Arranged neatly in a grid as they are in gallery installations, Howalt’s violent images are paradoxically sterile. Set against a pale gray background, his subjects seem restrained in a way that contradicts the nature of their sport. Many of the photographs look like clean mugshots pinned cleanly and simply on a wall; the young boxers are at the mercy of our judgement. Do we condemn or celebrate this ruthless sport? Take a look. (via Agonistica)
Carved carefully into the delicate surfaces of shells, Gregory Halili’s magnificent human skulls look like forgotten human fossils, discovered long after the extinction of our species. The New Jersey-based artist draws inspiration from the wild plant and animal life the Philippines, where he lived into his teenage years; his medium, black-lip and gold-lip mother of pearl, are gathered from the shores of the island country. The artist’s shimmering skulls are complex bas-reliefs, and his technique, which includes detailed oil painting, is evocative of ancient coins; in the place of hard metal lies a soft partially organic material, and portraits of kings are replaced with ominous skulls.
Halili’s skulls are poignantly fragile, far less durable than human bone. A single slip of a tool, and the tender piece is ruined. The shape of the shell lends itself to the humanoid form; encased within its circular bounds, the skull appears like a child in the womb. The shell material that once protected a gastropod with maternal determination, softly frames Halili’s expert carving. In this way, the artist forces a collision between birth, the “mother” of pearl, and death, represented here with the skull. Like relics washed ashore, these masterful pieces serve as a memento mori, reminding us of our own mortality, our creation and our inevitable demise. Take a look.
There’s a new fashion craze that’s happening along Eastern China’s seaside city, Qingdao. Publicly-dubbed “Facekinis,” are protective head masks that are being worn by many beachgoers (mostly women). Photographer Peng Yangjun has documented them in a series of portraits that are set against the backdrop of the beach.
The colorful style is no doubt a strange one, and it’s reminiscent of luchadore and ski masks. This bizarre fashion trend has a more practical purpose, however, and that’s to protect swimmers from the sun, in addition to repelling insects and jellyfish. It’s often paired with long-sleeve bodysuits that help people maintain their natural complexion because bronze skin is often associated with those who perform physical labor in many Asian countries.
We’re often used to seeing swimmers wearing next to nothing or going completely nude. This style takes modesty to the next level, completely covering people up rather than stripping them down. It’s a surreal sight to see someone posed with bare arms and legs but a completely covered face; the photographs showcase an individual style but are devoid of the feeling and emotion we read from the face. (Via Flavorwire)
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For his series Animal Eyes, the Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan captures close-ups of animal eyeballs belonging to diverse creatures, revealing both the complexity and universality of the organ. Beneath his macro lens, these small circular organs appear paradoxically vast; at times, their curved surfaces resemble the entirety of planet Earth as seen from space, cloudy with ribbons of pigmentation. Here, the eyes, considered to be windows to the soul, reflect back a cosmic realm that evokes the metaphysical, but at the same time, they are startlingly material. The pupil, a seeming abyss ascending into the unknown, is cushioned by substantial tissues that ground us firmly within the corporeal world.
Though the species shot here vary immensely, a comforting uniformity emerges from the images; through the changes in iris hue and pupil dilation, there is a shared urgency in each gaze, a sweeping desire simply to see. The horse, his eyes veiled in straw-like lashes, fixes the lens with the same intensity as the hippo, whose wrinkled, fleshy eyelids peel back. Where most photography relies upon the assumption that we may watch without fear of being observed ourselves, Manvelyan’s images inspire within us a sense of being seen; are these opened eyes, these celestial orbs, looking back at us? What do they see? Check out the artist’s photographs of the human eye here. (via Agonistica)
For his series Evolution of Type, the artist and graphic designer Andreas Scheiger creates living, breathing fonts; his ABC’s might be dissected like a human limb, revealing boney spines and straining ligaments. With surgical precision, the flesh of his curvy S is pulled back in a manner that is both grotesque and sensuous. In this strange marriage of art, language, and science, the artist is inspired in part by Victorian sentiments and the emergence of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin of Species and the theory of evolution, which spurred medical debate and disillusioned many a spiritualist.
Scheiger’s work is profoundly influenced by seminal Vicorian text The Alphabet and Elements of Lettering, written by Frederic W. Goudy, the designer behind famous typefaces like Copperplate Gothic and Goudy Old Style. Schneiger imagines the literal manifestations of Goudy’s analogies, which compared lettering to animated organisms; like creatures extinct and in existence, language too has a history, bringing with it the ability to record and preserve human thoughts and discoveries.
Within Schneiger’s imaginative font, E’s are skinned to reveal a muscular-skeletal system; deeper still, is a network of red and blue veins and capillaries that transport oxygen to some unknown organ. Much like actual bodies, these letters are capable of deterioration and decay; a G appears lifeless, mounted like dinosaur bones. Similarly, a P gets trapped and preserved in amber, and a prehistoric J is fossilized in stone. The terms “the life of language” or “the body of text” become spell-binding realities in this whimsical and thoughtful series. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)