Instead of traditionally traveling the world, photographing the sights with a camera as he roams, Fabian Rook accumulates different snapshots via the comfort of his own home – with the help of his computer and Google. His photographic series is the result of entering key place names into his search bar and documenting where he ended up. By using the online digital tools of these search engines and satellite images to produce Fine Art, Rook is questioning the role of authenticity in image production and selling.
His photos are not dissimilar to those of landscape photographers Stephen Shore and Joel Sternfeld, but have a much different intention behind them, and another way entirely of being produced. Rook says this regarding his purpose:
“By reverting to the auto-produced landscape images taken by Google Street View and by not putting in an appearance of myself either as the author of an image or as an eyewitness, I highlight the meaning of the authorial and witness role in the production of photographic images.” (Source)
He not only exhibits Google-sourced landscape images as the finished project, but also superimposes elements from photojournalism and changes our understanding of what a place is. For example, he takes scenes of protesters from Iran and Greece and replaces them in a new setting of Sao Paulo. Or the street kids we see could either be playing together on the street, or running away from some authoritarian figure. Rook goes on to say:
“The locations and details converge and are exchangeable, while the pictures have the same variability and arbitrary quality that enables the user to switch continent in Google Streetview with a single mouseclick.” (Source)
His images are questionable and ambiguous, and this is his main aim – to point out how untrustworthy these sources are that we take at face value.
Illustrator Eugenia Loli assembles interstellar collages that are truly out of this world. A terrestrial globetrotter, Loli has lived in Greece, the UK, and the United States; her career has also spanned everything from computer programmer to nurse to filmmaker. Likewise, she seems to utilize disparate jigsaw pieces in her art and assembles them in ways that form a flawless whole.
The execution is truly flawless: whether it’s a woman driving into a galactic sunset or a jewel-encrusted roast beef dinner, Loli’s collages are transformative and transport the viewer into another universe. There’s also a vintage quality to the images, freezing them in time and space. In her artist’s statement, she says:
“Her collages, with the help of the title, often include a teasing, visual narrative, as if they’re a still frame of a surreal movie. The viewers are invited to make up the movie’s plot in their mind.”
There does indeed seem to be a sort of in media res quality to her illustrations, though it would seem that they would be just as inexplicable and magical even if the viewer had some inkling of how it all began. (via This Is Colossal)
Finland-based artist Iiu Susiraja has an interesting array of conceptual self-portraits featuring her posing, in an unorthodox manner, with household items. Shot in domestic settings, Susiraja seems to be mocking domestic lifestyle, or possibly mocking the framework we feel we must live within: the operative chores and habits that are considered normal. The work is silly but layered. Susiraja wears items in the wrong way; leggings on her breasts, or taping high heels around her knees, the images are reminiscent of a childs brash reaction to something that makes no sense, but is so ritualized we stop questioning the absurdity of something like the discomfort of tall heels. Why do we wear them?
Certain blogs on the internet have been deeming this the “anti-selfie”, although, conceptual portraits have been around for nearly as long as photography has. We all remember Cindy Sherman, don’t we? It seems attaching a hyped up word such as selfie, which the encompassing item we have thrown today’s self aggrandizing
A selfie is a shot of one’s self, yes, but it is characterized by the blatant self-importance of it, the self-promotion, the self-self-self. It is, generally, a tactless and shameless documentation of ME. The only statement being made, if any, is a call for attention. We have only recently, as a society, begun to feel comfortable enough to do something once considered impolite or, selfish. While art could easily be argued to be some of these things, such as egomaniacal (and this would be an eternally long argument), you could hardly consider a conceptual portrait to be in the same ballpark, or game, as a selfie. Susiraja’s work is not an anti-selfie, it is simply art. If we compare her work with a generic selfie, there are some major differences in intention, audience, and presentation. What is the intention behind the piece; is the artist working as a medium to transmitting a message that reaches beyond the mere documentation of her own existence, or is it tepid self-promotion? Is the audience Instagram? And finally, was it shot on an iPhone? Taking these things into account, it appears calling work like this an “anti-selfie” would be like calling a letter an “anti-email.” Are we in a place to recategorize “art” and limit it by simply referring to it as an antithesis to a trendy movement it predated?
Zhe Chen‘s confessional photographic series “The Bearable” has spanned a few years (2007 – 2010) and is a deeply personal journey of her own experiences with self harm. Her frank photos are very confrontational as she forces us to examine our own comfortability with such a terse subject. The close ups of bruised and battered skin, weeping nipples, bloodied and soiled sheets are not easily digestible images. In fact they are so hard to ignore, and are so powerful, that they immediately break down the taboos of any open discussion surrounding this subject. She says this about her work:
‘I hope my photographs inquire upon society’s prejudice and preconception towards this community, and not become illustrations or pictorial evidence for the topic at hand: every subject is an individual, not just ‘one of them’ – his or her life cannot be predicted or dictated by any constructed social code or notion. Depression plants the seed of introspection. I hope a first glance of my work conveys the idea of secrecy and sentiments, under which lies information awaiting exposure and recognition: like an index page pointing towards all the unanswered questions.’ (Source)
The L.A. based, Chinese artist teamed “The Bearable” series of her own self-mutilation with another, titled “The Bees“. Approaching the same subject from a different angle, she features a marginalized group of people in China who are so downtrodden and alienated that they feel the need to express their emotional oppression outwardly on their own bodies. Understanding the need for self-harm is such a complex story that most people tiptoe around, Chen wants to put it directly in front of us and see how we react.(Via Feature Shoot)
James Viscardi’s current painting series at The Sunday Painter gallery has art engage with fashion in a way rarely seen. Art and fashion overlap on so many levels, whether it is a designer creating preliminary drawings for a dress or an artist incorporating the style of an era into their portraiture to record that point in time. Fashion is a form of visual expression as painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. Even the commodification of fashion can barely differentiate it from art, as portions of the art community become increasingly concerned with haute brand name artists like Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst that can easily be compared as the Karl Lagerfelds and Marc Jacobs’ of the art world.
It can’t be denied that art and fashion go hand in hand, though often it is fashion photography that will take on themes relating to art rather than artists referencing fashion. Viscardi’s artwork recognizes the expressive potential of a piece of clothing, as well as its affinities with painting materials. After all, canvas is cotton, as is your shirt. In an interesting reversal, Viscardi literally stretches the fashion element over an art structure, to repurpose fashion for art. Fashion is much more present in the general public consciousness than art is. Every person has some opinion on fashion, not every person has engaged with art. Viscardi uses both art and fashion elements to inform each other, and the result is a seamless union (pardon the pun). (Via i-D)
During a recent trip to Istanbul, Spanish artist Pejac completed a series of three murals in Üsküdar. Titled “Lock, Poster and Shutters,” each piece has been meticulously painted and employs a trompe-l’oeil technique to suggest three-dimensionality. Through painted-on shadows and methods of forced perspective, Pejac renders realistic architectural elements, including a keyhole receding into a stone wall, a ‘poster’ of a lancet window, and unlatched shutters framing a small, intricately patterned screen.
In order to impeccably blend each piece onto its architectonic canvas, Pejac utilizes lifelike, subdued hues—namely black, white, grey, and gold. To further evoke realism, the artist paints each object true to size, and even creates illusions of elemental exposure through synthetic discoloration and signs of tarnish. Echoing the existing imperfections apparent on each façade—including chipped paint, subtle cracks, and accumulated dirt—Pejac’s murals simultaneously trick the eye and call attention to the innate potential that surrounds us on a daily basis.
In an interview with Société Perrier, Pejac notes his recurring “intention to not only play with the concept but with the very perception of reality.” And, if “Lock, Poster and Shutters” is any indication, his playing proves successful.
Maria Rubinke‘s porcelain sculptures are part Precious Moments, part Chucky — these are not your grandmother’s figurines. They instead embody all the terrors of the dark forest at night, the kind that Hansel and Gretel might have walked. Like fairy tales of yore, mishap after mishap seem to happen to these children. They wander the woods and lose an eye, or they sit in a bloody bathtub with a shark for a playmate. The calamities that befall Rubinke’s chubby cheeked cherubs seem endless.
One piece, “In between, with a fading dream,” depicts a young girl in a grove of inky black poisonous mushrooms, a frog — perhaps also poisonous — perched on her head. Though described as a dream, the scene is nothing short of nightmarish.
In the days leading up to Halloween, leave a little room in your nightmares for Rubinke’s vacant-eyed children. (via Cross Connect Magazine)
Elle Hanley, a fine art photographer based in Seattle, creates captivating characters and dreamy narratives through her portraits. Initially attracted to self-portraiture four years ago, Hanley has since amassed a career in conceptual portraits, surreal photography, and fashion editorials.
Aesthetically, Hanley emphasizes color and plays with texture in her work. Drawing inspiration from nature, her pieces are often shot in outdoor settings and feature humans interacting with their immediate environments. Due to this fascination with the “natural tension that exists between the human form and the space,” most of her work explores the relationship between her models—one of which being herself—and their surroundings. Always seeking to conjure an emotional reaction from the viewer, she strives to create narratives and seeks to capture moments in time. Evoking a sense of fantasy and avoiding indications of specific place or time, her portraits suggest “something vintage and timeless from a thoroughly modern process.”
Hanley’s recent body of work ranges from seemingly traditional, straightforward portraits to surreal depictions of women in dreamlike settings. Beautifully shot and conceptually fascinating, each piece portrays her devotion to maintain both variety and creativity in her practice, and perfectly captures her distinctive style and alluring aesthetic.
Check out Elle Hanley’s work at Axis Gallery in Seattle, Washington through the month of October!