Mrs. Sinou: “I refuse to do it to my children. This will stay on my face only.”
Mr. Boudo: “It is not easy to hit on girls with that. Especially, the Ivorians. I think it is not very attractive.”
Mr. Konabé: “Our parents did this not to get lost in life. When you went somewhere, you could not get lost.”
In the large Ivory Coast city of Abidjan it was once common to see Hââbré, the ancient custom of scarification. Today only the older people wear scarifications and when Joana Choumali decided to photograph them for her series “Haabre, The Last Generation 2013-2014″ she had a hard time finding people to pose for her.
“Scarification is the practice of performing a superficial incision in the human skin. This practice is disappearing due to the pressure of religious and state authorities, urban practices and the introduction of clothing in tribes.”
Choumali photographed the participants against a neutral backdrop in the attempt to remove any stigma or judgment from the images. On her website she pairs two images for each portrait—one from behind and one from the front or side, showing the scars. This is an interesting choice which seems to reinforce the idea that the scarification serves as an identity card of sorts. Where people are interchangeable from the back, they are marked and classified and unmistakable from the front. The images are also accompanied by quotes.
“Opinions (sometimes conflicting) of our witnesses illustrate the complexity of African identity today in a contemporary Africa torn between its past and its future. This “last generation” of people bearing the imprint of the past on their faces, went from being the norm and having a high social value to being somewhat ‘excluded.’”
It’s intriguing to note that while Hââbré is becoming extinct in Africa, it is gaining popularity as “body modification” in other areas of the world. According to National Geographic “over the last seven or eight years scarification has become remarkably widespread in the U.S. and Australia and across Europe, from London to Prague.” Is it cultural appropriation or appreciation? Will these scars start as emblems of individuality and end up, as in Africa, visual reminders of regret? (via feature shoot)
Long before the magic of Photoshop and its ability to manipulate came the work of Herbert List, a surrealist photographer working from the mid-1930’s through the 1960’s. His black and white images feature fake scientific models with their skin cut away and their guts partially exposed. This isn’t a particularly unusual sight- they are things you’d see in a classroom or museum – and show historical ways of practicing medicine. But, it’s how he frames the images that gives them an unnerving feel. Compositions are tightly cropped and provide us little context for what’s around them; it creates an air of mystery.
List was influenced by the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, which is evident as we see these statues that seem to exist in a void. They’re moody and strange, and List’s documentary-style photographs show how strange things are when presented a deliberate way. (Via Boing Boing and My Amp Goes to 11)
Graziano Locatelli creates mixed-media artwork out of humble materials: tiles, cement, glue, and metal plates. All of his pieces have some element of carefully controlled tumult, something brewing beneath the surface. Often Locatelli breaks his tiles in a precise but organic way, creating fault lines that ripple through the entire piece and create movement and a sense of tension. In one such piece, the fingers of a sculpted hand can be seen gripping the side of the jagged crack, as though peeling it back for a better look at the real world. Other works are more subtle: An impression of a human figure, outlined by hairline fractures.
According to Cross Connect Mag, Locatelli explains: “My early works are sharp and are often torn apart by heads and figures that try and break the wall and is still the subject of the breakage that bewitches me.”
Locatelli’s recurring motifs of breakage and emergency are complemented by his sculptures of materials re-made, formed into eggs or other objects. What’s interesting about his choice of tiles is that they are found so often in people’s houses, especially in places of comfort and privacy; in other words, places that have intimate knowledge of our lives. Perhaps that’s why the pieces are so unsettling, as they blend the familiar with the surreal along with elements of a Poe-esque horror.
“I wonder what meanings and feelings these (once) familiar places arouse in those who lived there,” Locatelli says. “I see them as restless dreams, spaces in ruins inhabited by ghosts that still retain an embryonic life.”
Spanish graphic designer Txaber has come up with an ingenious idea. Now we can see what is on the inside – on the outside. He has teamed up the colors of different beer with various shades of Pantone. At this stage this snappy idea is only a design concept – Txaber has said no companies are interested in producing, “but hopefully they will see the light.” The simplicity of this packaging has struck a chord with many people, and is an expansion of a similar idea launched last year.
Called Beertone, two Swiss designers Alexander Michelbach and Daniel Eugster created a color wheel also based on Pantone guides. They envisioned a beer lover to assemble this color wheel and choose their preferred brew from it. Every type of beer has it’s own swatch with all relevant information: brewery name, alcohol content, an image of the bottle and numerical values for its color in CMYK, RGB, and HTML. With over 202 colors (and separate beer types) Michelbach and Eugster no doubt would have been kept busy taste testing.
Whether it is a color wheel or a yet-to-be-realized design concept, the idea of marketing brewed beer based on slick packaging seems to a popular one. Txaber’s approach is an elegant, simple, understated one and shows the best side of the world’s third most popular drink. Ranging from Pale Ale to Imperial Stout, these designers have got the range covered. “Because beer comes in more colors than yellow or blurry.”(Via Lost At E Minor)
Wasma Mansour decided to document single Saudi Arabian women (living in the UK and Saudi Arabia) for her PhD thesis. She knew this was a subject that interested her due to its lack of coverage. She found there was a lack of investigation of women on their own, far too often women were measured with male counterparts; spouses, partners.
At first Mansour reached out using facebook and email, phishing randomly. She found this didn’t yield enough results. She found that making a more personal connection with the women, unsurprisingly, had them trust her more readily. Both the fact that the work was being done for educational purposes, and that Mansour herself was single, had the women open up to Mansour more enthusiastically. According to Mansour, they identified with her approach and saw that she could truly understand their lifestyle. Her subjects were in school themselves in Saudi Arabia and the UK.
Interestingly, Mansour had her large-scale film developed in the UK. This was in part because there were not many labs that were able to process her film in Saudi Arabia, but also because she found negotiating autonomously on a daily basis was very challenging. This being exactly the type of theme Mansour sought to confront in her work. (Via Emaho Magazine)
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.