In the creation of Autobiography, the photographer Jacinda Russell was inspired by collectors and hoarders, those compelled by the impulse to save seemingly insignificant objects as markers of meaningful experience. Driven by the photographic impulse to catalog her own life, she turned to what she calls “inconsequential objects are one aspect of [her] identity, easily disposable yet somehow kept:” cut hair, an old toy, fallen teeth.
Each meticulously-shot object serves as a tangible reminder of a particular section of her life; for example, the artist tracks the years from 2000-2007 with hair and swimsuits. The obsessive lens through which she views each cherished object expresses the desperate impulse to fix moments and spans of time within discernible possessions. Like a catalog of carefully pinned butterflies, each object is preserved multiple times over: once they are set aside, they are vacuum-sealed or placed in jars, only to be framed in the center of each shot with unnerving precision. Russell’s high-resolution shots scrupulously reveal and memorialize even the smallest details: the fibers of towels, the stains on clothing, the remarkable tonality of nail clippings.
The narrative of the series is hard to follow, and therein lies its power; the viewer is tasked with the impossible exercise of constructing a life between bookend-like photographs of chopped hair. What emerges from the powerful work is not the objects themselves, or even whatever personal and mysterious experiences they might symbolize, but the artist’s movingly frantic and ultimately futile attempt to immortalize what is already gone. Take a look. (via Lenscratch)
Andy Warhol’s Silver Clouds is probably one of the best-known balloon installations. Silver Clouds was first created with the help of engineer Billy Klüver and incorporated into other works, such as Merce Cunningham’s 1968 Rainforest. Re-made many times since its first installment, the mercurial piece is a favorite of many.
German choreographer William Forsythe created an amazing installation called Scattered Crowd that consisted of thousands of white balloons. Seeking to reflect the concept of human decision, Forsythe wanted visitors to consider how they chose to maneuver through the piece.
Madrid-based street artist, SpY has been creating urban interventions for over two decades. His “balloon boy” is both humorous and surprising.
First created in 1998 and re-created several times Half the Air in a Given Space by Martin Creed is comprised of thousands of balloons. Always the same color, the installation is mean to be clever, fun and interactive.
South Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa created an installation called Life/Life, consisting of over 10,000 balloons at Gallery Central in Australia. The beautiful installation was made all the more powerful for its ephemeral nature.
The work of Dillon Boy (né James Dillon Wright) emerged from a street art and graffiti background, combining pop culture, branding, advertising, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to take these sources further than they were intended. This evolution (or devolution) is evident in his series DIRTYLAND, where the artist takes the ever-popular childhood icons of Disney’s princesses and removes their context, and clothes.
In works which collage smut magazine backgrounds with spraypaint stencils, drips and graffiti scrawls, these princesses become transformed representations of our combined high and lowbrow society, and take aim at the falsely marketed ideas of perfection and innocence. In an exclusive talk with Beautiful/Decay, Dillon talks about the series. “Most of my audience were kids when these princesses ruled their world, so now that they are all adults (and sexually active) they are all ready to hang paintings of naked Disney chicks all over the house. [laughs]. No for real though, I believe it’s my job as an artist to question the very things around me and to continuously break down the traditional and more conventional ways of making art. It is my intention to raise or lower your eyebrows in one way or another.”
This reappropriation of pop culture icons is nothing new, but seems to be happening at a rapidly increasing pace (Beautiful/Decay has recently featured several such reimaginings of pop culture symbols), indicating that artists are remaining relevant to many audiences by constantly questioning what we collectively see daily. Dillon Boy (surprisingly?) notes that he has not seen much in the way of criticism of his DIRTYLAND series, and that is his job as an artist to take things one step further. “Well, one thing is for sure, we live in a sexually charged culture. Walk outside and you will quickly find a billboard or an ad in a publication showcasing a woman as a sex object. Sex sells remember. I simply used the pure, untainted characters of Walt Disney to convey that message. But that’s obvious, I’m not doing anything that hasn’t been done before… but I’m ready to do it again!”
Haunting and provocative, “Ghosts” South African artist Ralph Ziman’s recent photography exhibition addresses the international arms trade. The series features 200 beaded gun and ammunition sculptures created by 6 Zimbabwean artisans who were commissioned by Ziman. The sculptures are made from traditional African beads and wire and are replicas of AK-47s and general purpose machine guns (GPMGs). The artists are also the subjects of Ziman’s photographs, alongside some construction workers, and a member of the South African Police Services who just wanted his picture taken. The idea for the project began as a series of murals in Venice that were a response to the international arms trade and Africa. The result is a powerful representation of the intimate relationship between Africa and arms trading.
“In bringing his exhibit to the US, ‘the world’s biggest arms exporter,’ Ziman goes some way to redirecting the one directional flow of the arms trade, inviting viewers to consider the original source of the guns on display.” “Ghosts” features the gun sculptures, installations, and photographs, and is on display from February 8 through March 2 at C.A.V.E. Gallery in Los Angeles. (via hi fructose and okay africa)
In 1998, Argentinian artist Nicola Constantino created ‘Peletería Humana’ (Human fur Boutique), a window display with twenty mannequins showing off Nicola’s heeled shoes, dresses and handbags. These elegant designs were fashion forward in a peculiar way: all pieces were made out of real human hair and colored latex cloth which patterns and textures imitated human nipples. The material, reminiscent of real human skin. was a definite erotic but also sickeningly monstrous and abnormal characteristic that made many recoil in disgust.
The attractive yet repulsive pieces delineate the artist’s ideas about two highly addictive societal desires: expensive consumer goods and sex. By creating these garments out of human hair and cloth that reproduced the human skin, she entices the viewer to see, simultaneously, both desires in the same object. We can also say that her ‘elegant’, high end creations (all which are wearable pieces of art) play with notions of the natural and the artificial, ideas of identity in a consumer society, and the materiality of the human body in contemporary times.
Is there any doubt that cats rule the internet? Probably not, and the photographs by Barrere & Simon play into this trend with the cat-themed book Lolchats. Costumed cats depict different personalities and professions, like a painter, beach bum, beauty queen, and diplomat. Perfectly posed and accessorized, these cats are amusing and sassy.
Stories and quotes about and “said by” the cats accompany each portrait in the book. The portraits are enhanced with a little extra information. Katsumi, the rainbow, watermelon-loving cat (above) has the following written about her: “She loves soy milk, maki shaped smileys and Cat’s Eyes. Since her stay in Shibuya last summer, she learned to make the V sign with her feet and always says “meow” in Japanese. ‘Nya!’” Likewise, Vinz, the cat with the guitar and leather jacket says, “He loves strings and shots of Jack Daniels. He hates deworming and new wave. ‘My greatest pride is my grandfather posing on the cover of the first Stray Cats’” (Via Aristide)
The 27-year-old Fortunato Castro grow up listening to his mother recall vivid memories of her youth in El Salvador. Now a photographer, Castro returns to images of his mother at his age. The art theorist Roland Barthes once wrote about his search for his late mother within photographs of her; in the series Some Girl, Some Where, Castro takes it a step further, animating the vintage photographs by dressing and posing as his mother.
In the poignant series, Castro doesn’t intend to impersonate his mother in a literal sense; rather, the images read as a son seeking to understand his mother and her youth by physically placing himself in her shoes. Each image is shot with earnest reverence; every gesture he sees his mother make is carefully mimicked, from the concentrated application of mascara to the self-conscious covering of the chest.
Photographically, Castro sees differences in the images of young women today and of his mother’s generation. The modern snapshots that permeate our culture, he suggests, are more casual and candid; a girl takes a shot of her friends as they get ready for a night out, or a woman sends an intimate selfie to her lover. The photographs of his mother’s youth are more serious and polished, and he conveys that elegantly, acknowledging the viewer in each image and positioning himself with careful deliberation.
The obvious sexuality of the photographs remain touchingly innocent; Castro’s curiosity about his mother’s body reads more like a confessional than an exploitation. He returns to the sensual exploration of childhood, using his own body to navigate his feelings about his mother’s. Take a look. (via NYMag)
The songs are heartfelt and powerful with Lee’s fragile and beautiful voice as the centerpiece, and the recordings are an instantly engaging blend of high and low fidelity, mixing lush studio productions, featuring keys, guitar, violin and banjo, with clattering homemade percussion and found sounds. While the album is certainly Lee’s brainchild, the recordings are very much a collaborative effort featuring contributions by friends and others met along the way.
Mutual Benefit is currently on a US tour with European dates to follow. Check out his video for Advanced Falconry and then catch him live this Tuesday, January 28th at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock in Los Angeles. He’ll also be playing some East Coast dates in early February before heading off to Europe.