Mostly considered for the way they might make you feel, it is less common to consider what a drug might look like. Artist Sarah Schoenfeld had this thought while working at a Berlin nightclub. She converted her photography studio into a laboratory and exposed legal and illegal liquid drug mixtures to film negatives. She then created large prints from the resulting chemical reactions. The body of work, titled All You Can Feel, consists of bizarre images of heroin, cocaine, MDMA and other drugs. The work is meant to explore the relationship between alchemy, pharmacy and psychology, but also emerges as a visually interesting and sophisticated photography series.
The images appear as visual incarnations of the physical effects of the drugs they depict—they evoke bizarre altered states that feel both alluring, otherworldly and dangerous.
Marcela Bolivar is a Colombian digital artist who creates haunting images of women embedded in forests of sinister beauty. Encroached by thorny branches and accompanied by snakes and skull-faced birds, each character is possessed by her own dark element. Like spirits resurrected from the leaf bed, their bodies sprout and mutate, driven by ancient and esoteric powers. Using dark hues and gauzy layers, Bolivar does an incredible job blending savagery with ethereal, feminine beauty. Her work is an expression of the mysticism and secrets that lurk in the wooded landscapes of our dreams.
Bolivar is currently on display at Krab Jab Studio in Seattle. Her work is being featured alongside that of Samuel Araya and Bastien Lecouffe Deharme, artists who also compose stunning, fantasy-based visions of terror and beauty. The exhibition, called The Three Imposters, is inspired by Arthur Machen’s 1895 horror novel of the same name. The exhibition runs until November 7th. You can read more about the show on beautiful.bizarre.
Artist Filippo Minelli uses the ethereal smoke bomb to paint atmosphere in vibrant colors in his striking series Silence/Shapes. This title refers to Minelli’s intention of giving the concept of silence a physical form. His clouds of color give off the impression of a demanding presence, taking over the incredibly picturesque surroundings that it inhabits. The photographer’s smoke bombs always take place in breathtaking environments, like deep in the mountains are on the surface of a serene lake. The boldness of the colored smoke is a harsh contrast to the calmness of its environment. However, the smoke can be as unpredictable and wild as the wilderness it is in, as it swirls and explodes with color into the misty air of forests and meadows. Even further, some of the most incredible views of Filippo Minelli’s compositions are of his smoke bombs wafting through the air of abandoned buildings. The organic shapes that the clouds take on create an amazing juxtaposition against the manmade structures that enclose around it.
When exploring this aesthetically genius series of Minelli’s, you realize that there is a complete absence of human form. No people are ever present. It is almost as if the colored clouds are a life of their own, standing in for human life. In one of Filippo MInelli’s photographs, it even appears that a bright, orange cloud is resting on a bench outside. The smoke begins to take on personality and substance, traveling to different natural environments and absorbing their majesty. Filippo Minelli explains the inspiration behind the series.
“The idea came to his mind when looking at political demonstrations footage, when he noticed that when the smoke was coming into the scene people stopped screaming and the scene was visually silenced too, so he thought of the smoke as the shape of silence taking over.”
Have you ever longed to confirm that we are, in fact, not alone in the universe? Well then you should probably subscribe to Beautiful/Decay today. As artist C.W. Moss has illustrated in vibrant watercolor, aliens are literally waiting on the other end of the telephone line to speak with you about 2012, the crystal skulls, the pyramids, and how the moon is really just a metal death star. Seriously. Pick up the phone, and subscribe to Beautiful/Decay today. Aliens….and contemporary art are waiting right now.
At the end of life: a camera lens, desperately recording and archiving the fears of the dying. For the series Life Before Death, the photographer Walter Schels captures the terminally ill in anticipation of the unknown and again in the moment after death. These intimate portraits are the last of a lifetime, documenting the body after some ineffable human essence has vanished. Informed by the words gathered in interview with the subjects by Schels’s partner Beate Lakotta, the haunting shots imagine the invisible, giving form to the most unconquerable human fear.
Schels’s portraits, in their silvery black and white tones, are reminiscent of Victorian post-mortem photography, presenting the dead as if sleeping, their eyes closed and brows gone slack in seeming comfort. These images are poignantly juxtaposed with the interviews, conversations in which even the most mundane, peripheral things of daily life are assigned significance; beside wizened and terrified eyes and coupled with existential wonderings are thoughts on fridge-freezers and local football teams. The banal works against and in service of the tragic; when confronted with death, a burial site and a cup of coffee are equally potent reminders of our mortality.
At the turn of the 20th century, it was believed that the eye recorded the last sight seen by the dead, that with careful study of the ocular nerves, we might reconstruct the moment of death. Schels’s subjects, pictured with gleaming eyes and contained within unrelentingly tight frames, seem to stare into the viewer as they confront inevitable passing, as if to implicate us or to say, “You are the last thing I saw.” (via The Guardian)
Irena Zablotska is a Ukrainian artistborrows inspiration from Eastern European folk art and super saturated cartoons to make drawings that are mythic, cute, and psychedelic. Like Stacey Rozich, she makes creatures that are combinations of animals, people, plants, and patterns. Her world is one where life hasn’t splintered into different forms but exists in one animistic force, or maybe it’s a world where we’ve evolved to such a degree that we can collage lifeforms onto one another to make new inter-special selves. As graphic as they are colorful, they’re a real visual treat.
In 2007, Kurt Franz traveled on a bus across America and Western Europe studying city peripheries where construction and entropic sites become a common occurrence. Along the way he picked up enough materials to make some intriguing work.