If you weren’t already convinced that Tilda Swinton is a dream-walking faerie queen, then Tim Walker‘s photography will certainly dispel all doubt. Whether she’s mingling with surreal objets in the home of Dominique and John de Menil (a series aptly named “The Surreal World“) or resurrecting lush jungle dreams (“Las Pozas“), Swinton punctuates each scene with a piercing gaze and an incandescent question mark.
Walker plays up Swinton’s otherworldliness with a deft hand and eye for stark contrast and color. In one photograph, it’s Swinton versus Swinton against a backdrop of surrealist paintings. In another, staring out from beneath a veil of gauze, Swinton poses like a bust in virginal white.
The description of Walker’s work from his biography — “extravagant staging and romantic motifs” — is certainly apt. From one stage to the next, Walker coaxes out a variety of subtle expressions from his subject: severe, pensive, and — just a hint — inviting. His photographs are transportive, giving viewers a brief glimpse of what it’s like to be an oneironaut circling the psychic deep. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Photographer Juuke Schoorl‘s collection is called “Rek,” which means “stretch” in Dutch. It’s a fitting name for both the act observed as well as that demanded of viewers as they are asked to consider all manner of textures both natural and unnatural. In her artist’s statement, Schoorl says that she “[explores] aesthetic possibilities of the human skin through a mixture of image capturing techniques.”
Using nylon fishing rope and cello tape, she creates temporary perforations and artificial patterns on what she calls “this curious stretchable material.” Some of her experiments look natural, almost like scarification. Others approach alien, such as one that tugs the side of a woman’s neck into what look similar to gills or another kind of grittier protrusion.
Interestingly, Schoorl’s subjects all look composed, serene even as viewers might flinch back on instinct. Perhaps that is the point; Schoorl invites viewers to be curious, to wonder at these new patterns and human landscapes. She wants us to consider our “biological upholstery that aside from it’s [sic] protective capabilities could also serve as a medium for aesthetic expression.” (via Juxtapoz)
Adam Voorhes, a photographer residing in Texas, has released an amazing book documenting 100 extremely rare, damaged, and malformed human brains. This book, called Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital, was released this November through PowerHouse books. As Voorhes’ work shows, there is an aesthetic beauty to the contours and shape of a brain that only add to the intrinsic mystery surrounding them. Through a twist of fate, Voorhes gained access to a medical niche and has built a body of work that will prove to be historically priceless. His project created a detailed photographic archive of the brains that has led to a new, revitalized interest from the medical community. Scientific journals have voiced intrigue and the researchers at the University of Texas at Austin are now producing MRI’s of these brains, which will be displayed in their new medical school.
Voorhes explains how he came into this subject:
“I had been sent to the University of Texas’ Animal Resources Center to borrow a brain to photograph for a magazine article. I was shown through a laboratory into a storage closet filled with human brains stacked in jars from floor to ceiling, two rows deep. All told, there were more than 100 rare specimens extracted from former patients at Texas’ state mental hospital in Austin, and all displayed distinct abnormalities. Each jar had been labeled with a date, an observation in archaic Latin and a case number.
I took the brain I’d been assigned and returned to my studio to work, but I quickly became preoccupied with the vision of this decaying collection. I wanted to know more about the donors, their quality of life and experiences. The gravity of what I’d seen haunted me. The thought of cataloguing the collection and preserving it with my camera became an obsession.
Eventually, my photography team and I were granted access to the lab. Uninterrupted and unsupervised, we donned respirators and heavy gloves. Over the course of two days in the locked research facility, we documented the collection. The history of these brains remained unknown, however. Although the descriptive text on some of the jar labels had faded or worn away, most had corresponding case numbers. Those case numbers referenced medical records, and those records became my secondary obsession.
In over my head, I collaborated with journalist Alex Hannaford to track down the story behind the brains. As he pored through archaic documents and tracked every available lead, he uncovered not only the history of the collection, but also the unfortunate loss of nearly half the original specimens. Our hope for this project is to help preserve the remaining portion and foster greater interest in its beauty, historical importance and medical value.” (via Slate)
Gonzalo, turned 22 during his trip as an undocumented person in Mexico. His family in Honduras hopes that he’ll make it to the U.S. He left a message on this board for his wife and 9 month old daughter: “Lorena, Rafaela, I miss you a lot. Back soon ” – Ixtepec, Oaxaca, 2011
The Backpack of Salvador Santo. Salvador Santo, 21, has written inside the phone number of a relative in Honduras. The need to hide information arises to prevent abductions and extortion of family while he crosses Mexico. According to the National System of Public Security (SNSP), abductions reported to the Attorney General in 2013 were more than 3,600 cases compared to 1,259 in 2012. – D.F., Mexico, 2014
Wendy fled from Honduras with her three children (Jared of 18 months, Jazmin of 3 years, and Eduardo of 8) because of the attempted murder she suffered by her husband, a member of the Mara Salvatrucha 18, one of two of the largest gangs in Central America. The complaint filed against her husband for domestic and sexual violence towards her and their three children had no solution in Honduras due to corruption. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2014
(pictured left) Armando, El Salvador. His destination was the United States, but he was deported in Baja California while riding in the cargo train crossing Mexico. He wanted to retry the trip as undocumented via Tenosique, Tabasco. This time, while trying to get on the train, he fell and the very train amputated his arm. He awaits the document certifying him as a refugee. – Tapachula, Chiapas, 2014. (pictured right) Celso’s prosthesis. Celso, Honduras, 31, victim of an accident while riding the freight train they call the Beast. – Tapachula, Mexico, 2014
Photographer Nicola Okin Frioli has been documenting the heartbreak, failures, misery, grief and victimization of thousands of migrants over the past twelve years. Having extensively traveled and documented his way through Northern Mexico, India, Pakistan, Kashmir, and Sardinia, Frioli has seen the desperate measures people will go to in order to create a better future for themselves and their families.
His latest project, titled Al ‘Otro Lado’ del Sueño / The Other Side of the American Dream is a harrowing reminder of the many hardships people face while chasing what seems like an impossible goal. This series focuses on men, women traveling alone, the elderly, and children, all of whom come from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua and are attempting to get to ‘the other side’ – across the American border. The extent of these hardships are often underestimated: not only is there exploitation, discrimination and abuse from migration authorities, but also from gangs (Maras Salvatruchas) connected with smuggling and protection fees. Frioli says:
The intention of this project is clear: to gather documents and testimonies of the complaints and all of the abuses the migrants suffer; to be more knowledgeable about the abuse and corruption that the Mexican border authorities direct against Central American migrants; and to use pictures – painful and touching images – to reveal the physical scars, the pain, and the humiliation of those who at one point allowed themselves to dream of something better. (Source)
In Maria Jose Garcia Piaggio’s “Through the Window,” she appropriates found images as part of her investigation about cybersex. A project in two parts, the images of men capture them watching though free portals; the women’s photos are taken from live shows where the viewer has to pay to participate.
“I want to be able to show these scenarios that we all know are there but we keep hidden, deconstructing it from the virtual context and taking it to other scenarios to show these two groups to the viewer.”
There’s no mention in the project description of consent, so it’s unclear whether these voyeurs and provocateurs are willing participants in this project. Likewise, there are no descriptive texts or photographer/videographer credits available. Since these are found images, Piaggio serves less as an artist and more as a curator of these experiences. The images she’s chosen are interesting in their variety: the men’s and women’s faces are both alternately fully exposed and hidden. Rooms are revealed in the background, or left darkened and unspecific. Some subjects smile into the camera, others seem unaware that they’re being photographed.
It’s a broad subject and a provocative one, and Piaggio’s notes indicate that this is just the start of the project. She says, “I reflect about the body, the pose and the clichés.” In continuing to compile these images, Piaggio has the opportunity to push past the expected and reveal more about the proclivities of the watchers and the watched.
UK-based artist San Pierre has a slightly unorthodox method when creating his work. Instead of displaying a simple image in a frame, he draws designs over top of the print with threads that are secured with nuts and bolts. These intricate, criss-crossing strings form delicate shapes that alter how the viewer interprets the image. Depending on the depth and color of the strings, the artwork might appear diffused or distorted with geometric fragments.
Pierre’s use of thread adds not only a physical layer onto his work, but a conceptual one as well. His piece titled Discontent No. 6 (top two images) features a dark figure who looks as though they’re trying to gingerly find their way. With the technicolor strings, however, it now reads as a barrier or a wall. Instead of freedom, this being is trapped. (Via My Amp Goes to 11)
Interested in transformation and inspired by his local landscape, Portuguese photographer Tito Mouraz captures the manmade metamorphosis of his surroundings in his book and photographic series, Open Space Office.
Over the course of three years, Mouraz documented an increasing number of human-driven changes to a landscape once familiar to him. Railroad tracks bisecting boulders, tires sitting in murky runoff, and electric cords lining rock formations are just a few examples of the interrupted environments chronicled in Open Space Office, which the photographer describes as “completely and irreversibly transformed.” He explains:
. . . The work presented aims to portray a reality that suffers an ongoing daily process of rapid transformation. Therefore, the pictures show a temporary reality inserted in a natural landscape undergoing progressive transmutation. They are unique and imposing spaces with an undeniable visual impact which bestows on the images a strong formal and plastic content.
Unique and revealing, the 24 images presented in Mouraz’s Open Space Office offer a striking glimpse into a transformed landscape and, ultimately, convey the enduring—albeit complicated— relationship between man and nature.
Elly Heise is a commercial and fine arts photographer who’s created a series where daughters do their mother’s makeup. Some of the results are close to conventional makeup application, but for the most part the girls were very creative. Children, in art and evidently makeup, are always able to think outside the box. It’s exciting to see what they can come up with.
What’s a bit strange about the series is that the portraits are quite serious. In many the mothers look sad, and in combination with makeup that in some cases resembles bruising, it sends a mixed message.
Heise states of her fine art photography:
“My artistic practice often involves psychological inquiries I make concerning our identities. I see photography as a potential medium that can represent the outer physical identity of a subject while simultaneously expressing their natural drives. I hope that my work will cause my audience to consider the natural and unnatural influences that affect the formation of their own identities. I aspire to make images that give voice to the photographic subject’s realism and the humanity existing behind their masks.”
The #daughterdoesmymakeup series deals with themes of mask and identity. It highlights the absurdity of makeup as a mask with which to hide our natural beauty. It also demonstrates the creativity of a mind not yet strongly influenced by standardized beauty.(Via 123 Inspiration)