Photographer Claire Rosen uses self portraiture as a way to transport the viewers into a world of fairytales. Through her aptly named series Fairy Tales and other Stories, she creates fantastical worlds where the isolated subjects surround themselves with scenes of nature, piles of books, and more. Often, their faces are obscured in the darker, more introspective version of these classic stories.
Rosen’s work mirrors her unconscious, and she explains in her artist statement:
Inside my dreams, I am someone else. I create characters, like alter egos, presented as recognizable archetypes. The figure inside the image often looks away from the viewer, the face hidden by the turn of the body or by a mask. I hope that the viewer will imagine themselves inside fairytale, and interpret the narrative of the image as one might interpret a fairytale, searching for hidden meeting inside the story.
This series speaks to living in the 21st Century, a time when we are constantly bombarded with noise, information and moving images. Still imagery, by contrast, allows us to shut out the noise and hear ourselves. I use photography to both escape and convey the overwhelming nature of our modern reality.
The pastoral setting of this work recalls a simpler time, while reminding us of humanity’s attempt to conquer the enormity of nature. I draw on themes in classic fairytales – beauty, chastity, and passivity – not as a comment on post-feminism, but as an expression of a more universal experience. My aim with the use of folklore is to suggest the continuity of the human condition: outside, the physical world changes with dizzying speed; inside, our cerebral world remains timeless.
Mithu Sen did not begin her career in visual expression. Her work has evolved quite a bit to get to the point of creating an 80-foot long installation that is essentially one giant denture. She began as a poet, inspired by her mother, writing in Bengali as a child. She was published quite a few times before she moved to Delhi and began to lose her connection to her mother tongue. Afterwards, she made the transition to “artist.”
Her artwork now is often categorized as highly sexual. She has said of this: “I don’t really care if my sexual works are the reason people are looking. Sexuality is the means by which one can enter the self and the psyche. The so-called sexual overtone in my work is to provoke and trap people, to force them to see and to contemplate. I’ve tried to bring tabooed sexuality out of the closet… I try to draw sexuality from both living and inanimate objects.”
Definitely her work pushes boundaries, but in her drawings as in Border Unseen (the tooth wall) there are details and subtleties to be discovered beneath the most obvious aspects of her work. On Border Unseen, little figurines of people, skulls, toys, etc. of similar dimensions to the teeth, are camouflaged all throughout the installation. Likewise, although her drawings are overtly and uncomfortably sexual – as in the piece where a finger seems to be inserted inside an animal within which is another animal – if you are able to overcome the initial disturbance, there’s a great deal of tenderness below. Although the work is challenging, it is not so heavy-handed, and always demands more open-mindedness of the viewer; always a worthwhile exercise. (Via BOMB Magazine)
In his photographic series, Gravity, Tomas Januska takes snapshots of human bodies in unnatural and usually impossible poses. Beautifully photographed with clean crisp backgrounds, Januska highlights the absurdities of the forms and figures of his subjects. These are frozen moments that we normally would not be able to witness. Girls look as if they have been caught in a hurricane, skirts and hair billowing out around them. Boys are snapped mid-flight, shoes, caps and props flung to the side.
Januska manages to capture either violent and frenetic energy in his subjects, or a very still and quiet introverted moment. Some people seem as if they have been woken from their slumber, picked up and dangled mid-air. Individual’s clothes add to their narrative – a business woman leaping in heels and twirling her jacket seems caught in a triumphant post-meeting moment, or celebrating the latest merger at work. Another girl arches her back, with her hand resting on her head, as if regretting a wrong decision recently made.
In these portraits we can see the full range of human expression – each twist, bend, tilt, grimace tells it’s own story. Every tilted head, crooked limb and flexed muscle doing so for a reason. “Gravity” is not only about capturing postures and poses, but also about the natural drama and theatricality inherent in our bodies. (via Juxtapoz)
Kansas City grandmother Holly Stewart is arousing lots of love and laughs over her current art show at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, featuring intricately crafted penises. Some beaded, some quilted, they range in size and shape, as do those which they are modeled after. Using Kickstarter to fund this show, which is titled “Local Grandmother Quilts Giant Penises,” she has had no trouble drawing in a crowd. Her impetus to create these sorts of pieces came from a past job working in a sex toy factory, where Stewart de-molded dildos. As a painter, she was exploring penis themes when one day she randomly had an impulse to put pins into some foam core in a certain assortment, which her professor told her “looked like a dildo.” And thus craft penis-ing was born.
“Local Grandmother Quilts Giant Penises,” is up now until September 19th at the UMKC Gallery of Art. One reporter spoke very highly of the show, saying:
“Now that the exhibition is up and running, we can officially report that the massive, quilted man parts are more wondrous than we ever imagined. The works are as feminist as they are hilarious, as affirmative as they are transgressive. Sparkly, colorful, big and small, hard and soft, the penises on display truly capture the manifold possibilities of a phallic shape when separated from the shackling confines of human flesh.” (Source)
In a country with literally dozens of celebrated historical monuments, photographer Antonio La Grotta pays tribute to a different sort of relic: discotheques, abandoned and decaying. In their repose, there is an otherworldliness quality about them, looking as though they are the remains of crash-landed disco spaceships.
Mostly built in the 1980s, the buildings are sometimes daring with the occasional swooping bold line here and a vaguely extraterrestrial silhouette there. However, the design borrows more from chintzy Las Vegas glamour. One discotheque — fittingly named “Last Empire” — is decorated with reclining Greek statues and columns. Another takes the form of a giant boat, marooned on land and in time. Some are a little more abstract, such as the “Woodpecker,” which is comprised of a system of round covered pavilions in a marshy swamp.
Why photograph these places now that the glitz has turned to dust? La Grotta said in an interview, “I like to photograph what you cannot see, the suggestions a place can give you, even if it doesn’t declare it in a clear and open way.” He describes the discotheques as “inhabited by echo,” something that is certainly true in a number of ways. The dance halls are optimistically spacious, and the occasional pop of neon color is a reminder that this, too, had its heyday.
These discotheques are neither disco World Heritage Sites nor astounding feats of engineering, but they are nevertheless time capsules from life in the not-too-distant past.
Mary Jordan’s Water Tank Project brings to the New York skyline a beautiful and pertinent reminder that water is, in most respects, sacred. The project has brought glorious eye candy into the periphery, yet its first and foremost mission is to spread awareness regarding the dire water situation the majority of this world experiences.
The backstory to the effort reads like a movie: filmmaker Mary Jordan was working on a documentary in Ethiopia back in 2007. Three months in she became deathly ill from accidentally ingesting contaminated water. Nursed back to health by the women of the village she was living in, Jordan survived and was urged by these women to thank them through working to increase awareness on the water crisis within their country and the world.
One day, while back in New York, Jordan gazed up at a water tower and had an epiphany: “They’re like these little temples that hold water,” she thought, and realized the inherent symbolism of the structure itself, and the potential power to communicate that it held. Thus, the Water Tank Project was born. Jordan founded Word Above The Street, with the intent of utilizing the city’s water-related infrastructure to showcase water-related art and increase awareness.
The project gained an impressive level of momentum as artists Jeff Koons, Maya Lin, Andy Goldsworthy, Jeppe Hein, John Baldessari, and many, many others have signed up to produce graphic wraps for the over 100 water towers included in the project. With the tag line: Art Above NYC, Water Above All, Jordan is doing a remarkable job at fulfilling her promise, and getting you to think about your relationship with water and what effects the conservation of water can mean to those in countries less fortunate than ours.
Beautiful/Decay has been a friend and supporter of artist and illustrator Zach Johnsen for many years. We’ve seen Zach go from humble beginnings to launching his first clothing line Tank Theory, to taking over the art world with his inventive smoke flare paintings. Johnsen’s art career is always in a state of progression so it’s no surprise to see his inventive style making a comeback in apparel with his latest collaboration with curated online marketplace RARE. Launching this week, Johnsen is releasing his Zenvironments brand which will be home to book bags, apparel, and accessories covered with his signature colorful artworks. When asked to speak on his work Johnsen states:
” Sketching is a big part of my day, both for fun and when starting a new project. I am constantly making lines and splashing watercolor. I wanted my initial Zenvironments capsule collection on RARE to showcase the fun and spontaneity of the creative process and make that process the focus of the garments. “
Expect to see many of Johnsen’s trademark techniques like his watercolor soaked “ Splash tee or the head exploding Absolute Citrus tee. For the ladies Johnson has created the Splash leggings and the Sketch leggings which transforms pages out of Johnson’s sketchbook into premium cut and sew leggings!
Evelyn Bencicova’s photography is stark and haunting, which could probably in part be attributed to the headless-ness of her subjects in most of her works. The colouring is sterile, and the figures’ body language imitates the stillness of their environment. Although each naked body touches at least one other, there is no sense of sexuality or pleasure. The bodies seem like one larger, unified organism, like some strange jellyfish or starfish. They splay themselves over surfaces, as if they’ve been washed up across the desk they rigidly lie on. They are compelling because although logically you realize you’re seeing a human body, they lack any recognizable aspects. It’s near impossible to feel empathy or understanding without facial features or visible imperfections or distinguishing character. It is especially with so many clones together. The series is an interesting experiment in identifying what defines our living human character.
I want to apologize in advance for making this comparison, but if I’m being completely honest, I’m reminded of the film Human Centipede. Of course, conceptually they are completely opposite, one being completely vile and horrific, the other pleasantly vacant. Still, if the Human Centipede were instead an experimental art film, maybe it would be the Human Starfish, and the film was about a multi-human entity that slowly explored an abandoned hospital or institution, these photos would be the stills. (Via Daily Metal)