There’s always something more to be said in a failed romantic relationship. No matter who was right or wrong, time allows for reflection by both parties. But, more often than not, we don’t get the chance to say our peace. Photographer Jennifer McClure offers an intimate look at these types of situations in her series, You Who Never Arrived. She explores her past relationships by putting herself in front of the camera and reimagines the situations of former loves. McClure re-stages the events in hotels, using friends and acquaintances to play the part of beaus.
This series is no doubt an intimate one, as we see the photographer’s vulnerability on display. Her perception of the past was changed in this exercise, and she explains to Feature Shoot:
I thought I was going to find out what was wrong with all of the men I dated. I had assumed that I was ready for a grown-up relationship and that I simply wasn’t choosing well. After hearing what all of the stand-ins had to say about my actions and my behavior, I saw that I always ran away when things started to get serious. I was afraid to let anyone get too close, and I much preferred fantasy over reality. I always shot before the men arrived (when I was still right) and after they left (when I was so very wrong). The most devastating photos to me are the ones I shot the mornings after.
Since everything was shot in a hotel room, the sets were always a surprise, forcing the photographer to improvise in things like lighting and decor. Combined with the improv’d dialogue, these images feel like film stills. (Via Feature Shoot)
The prevalence of any technology forever alters the way we previously understood the world before it. Photography changed painting, audio recording changed our relationship to music, and the internet changed print media such as books and magazines. What is most often lost is the human touch, a closer connection from the source to the viewer or listener. Such is the story of courtroom sketch artist Gary Myrick, the focus of a documentary produced by Ramtid Nikzad of the New York Times as part of the Op-Doc series. A compelling figure who narrates the history of the tradition, Myrick Myrick explains the difference and importance of his craft, “Illustration is story-telling. The difference between the camera in the courtroom and an artist might be the difference between just a cold, dry, factual transcript as opposed to a novel.”
Beginning with Myrick explaining his work, the documentary covers the history of the medium, the advent and fall of courtroom photography, and the eventual decline of the courtroom sketch artist. “The artist at one time was the media,” says Myrick, relaying the history of artist documentarians, from war reporting through history to multi-tasking newspaper reporters who considered their drawings as important as their words. “When you funnel the story through a human being, its got a different quality than simply doing a mechanical recording of it,” says Myrick. “A lot of things going on about me are channeled through my heart, and my soul and my brain and my fingers…I like to convey just how it feels in that moment.”
Despite his immense talent, Myrick and so many other sketch artists are no longer able to work exclusively in the dying industry. Myrick poignantly notes, speaking more indicatively of so many industries that are being lost to the ease of technology, “I’m trying to draw to communicate to those that aren’t there, what it was like to be there. And maybe some of that has been getting lost.” (via juxtapoz and newyorktimes)
For her wildly imaginative series Foot Fetish, the artist Gwen Murphy creates shoes with carefully rendered faces. Her sculptures range from the humorous to the frightful, from high end footwear to more casual designs. Murphy’s lifelike characters blend seamlessly into the shoes they inhabit, recontextualizing well-worn Converse One Stars, pumps, and ballet flats. Here, footwear ceases to be a passive participant in our daily lives, waiting patiently for our feet; instead, shoes become fantastical creatures with lives of their own.
Murphy’s uncanny creations draw from pop culture and folklore alike. “Planet of the Sneakers,” is a clever yet earnest adaptation of the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes.” Celebrity fortune teller phenomenon Madame Zora makes an appearance in a pair of glittery pink kitten heels, and one-eyed Waldgeist, Germanic forest spirits, nestle amiably in a pair slippers. “Guardians of the Basilisk” places a pair of austere women in faux snake skin pumps; unlike the victims of the serpentine creature, who can kill simply by meeting a mortal’s gaze, they stare upwards, their eyes unfazed. “Judith,” a piece made from a pair of T-strap pumps, might be imagined as the biblical heroine; like the Jewish woman who slayed Holofernes, she is shown both as resolute (left shoe) and as gravely apprehensive, her eyes darting back and forth (right shoe).
With Foot Fetish, Murphy elegantly inverts our expectations, placing the face and head where the feet should be. Her shoes, no longer able to serve the purpose for which they were designed, take on new life. In this off-beat, upside-down realm, are delightful moments where the magical and practical collide. (via Agonistica)
For her series The Absence of All Colors, the artist Ludmila Steckelberg creates a visual catalog of death; scouring her old family photo albums, she removes the photographic imprints of the dead, leaving blackened figures in their wake. Like fading recollections of face and features, these blank gaps— merely standing in for the deceased— leave an invisible mark on collective family memory. These old black and white images, now sepia-toned with age, are poignantly robbed of their power to immortalize and preserve those passed away. As with death itself, the act of removal, executed cleanly by the artist, is heartrendingly permanent and cannot be undone.
Steckelberg’s work is an unsetting exploration of the undeniable bond of photography and death. The photograph, though two-dimensional, suggests the three-dimensionality of life; here, the dead return to a state of two-dimensionality, receding from the aesthetic world of the living into an abstracted, flattened plane. The darkness they inhabit is utterly unimaginable to us, and yet they seem to be capable of observing us. In this shocking inversion, the viewer feels watched, gazed upon from the black depths. Pasted on one page of a family album, a removed couple faces into the opposite page, searching its blankness for an unknowable something.
Here, the living are left entirely alone, trapped within a space that once seemed full and vibrant, but is revealed to be merely an illusion by the artist’s careful cutting. Men and women look trapped within the borders of the deconstructed photograph, yearning to leap forth, to reconnect with those lost to darkness. (via Lensculture)
The Victorian doll is a symbol of feminine delicacy and piety, but the Scottish sculptor Jessica Harrison has turned that notion on its head, constructing porcelain figures and painting their flesh with vivid sailor tattoos. Harrison, previously featured here for her graphic and macabre figurines, subtly builds upon contemporary dialogues of sexuality and the female body. Where Victorian women were encouraged to be sexually modest, religious and sober, Harrison’s dolls adopt the visual language associated with drunkenness and sexual freedom on the high seas. Sailors, feared for their rowdy traditions, were thought of as the antithesis of the ideal woman, who was almost always middle class, white, home-bound.
Harrison’s dolls, like many Victorian woman, wear corsets and petticoats of soft, pastel hues; one even modestly holds a fan. But these seemingly coy women obviously have some ruffian pasts. Tattooed on one woman’s pale arms are the names of a dozen conquests: Daisy, Rita, Maria, Eileen. Unlike the figurines treasured by small Victorian children, Harrison’s characters seem to have anachronistically accompanied Sailor Jerry on his boozy pin-up filled adventures. Beside a budding rose sewn into the color of her dress, a lady reveals a pair of flying swallows, an icon that appears frequently in mid-20th century sailor tattoos.
Harrison’s impressive series coyly lays bare the deeply entrenched sexism, racism, and classism of the Victorian era, during which women were not permitted to vote or visit pubs. With their waists cinched and their hair powdered into elaborate updos, these seemingly fragile porcelain figures contain an undeniable grit that transcends all social barriers.
Artist Kerry Skarbakka creates Struggle to Right Oneself, a series of photographs that capture the artist himself in moments of suspended threat: falling from trees, tumbling head over heels in painfully precarious falls, or teetering on the edge of a fateful leap from a railway bridge. The images may be comical yet unavoidably painful to watch. According to Skarbakka, the idea of the fall comes from Martin Heidegger’s description of human existence as a process of perpetual falling. What are we without our falls and broken bones? The photographer captures a loss of control, that inevitable moment, prior to a fall, when one feels uncertain and scared, unable to know what happens next.
I continually return to questions regarding the nature of control and its effects on this perceived responsibility, since beyond the basic laws that govern and maintain our equilibrium, we live in a world that constantly tests our stability in various other forms. It is my understanding and my perspective, which relies on the shifting human conditions of the world that we inhabit. It’s exploration resides in the sublime metaphorical space from where balance has been disrupted to the definitive point of no return. It asks the question of what it means to resist the struggle, to simply let go. Or what are the consequences of holding on?
Skarbakka utilizes special climbing gear and other rigging to achieve each shot, the final images, however, are truly convincing. (via Colossal)
Dissolving Europe is the latest public art intervention series by Berlin-based street artist Vermibus. Using a hacked inter-rail ticket, he has been traveling Europe with an extensive set of billboard-lock keys, using them to illegally access print billboards and advertisement frames. Once opened, he uses various solvents and paints to alter the images, sometimes removing them entirely, and even cutting and pasting others. this process destroys and beautifies, blurring the already transgressive line of advert-hacking public art interventions. The artist states, “By using the advertising space and how the human figures are represented in that space, Vermibus is removing the masks that we wear and is criticizing advertisement which takes away a person’s identity to replace it by the one of the brand.”
Continued from his website, documenting the process, “Vermibus regularly collects advertising posters from the streets, using them in his studio as the base material for his work. There, a process of transformation begins. Using solvent, he brushes away the faces and flesh of the models appearing in the posters as well as brand logos. Once the transformation is complete, he then reintroduces the adverts back into their original context, hijacking the publicity, and its purpose.” (via lizartblog)
Believe it or not, these images by Todd Baxter are not paintings. They are photos, crafted with a painterly touch that clearly demonstrates the photographer’s influence of other fine art media such as painting, drawing, and sculpture. Baxter loads his compositions with exquisite details, and we see hand-made badges, fur scarves, and even exposed entrails that make up his series Owl Scouts. The surreal coloring and controlled lighting makes it easy to forget that what we’re looking at is a well-considered photograph.
Narrative images tell the story of young scouts that trek through the wilderness and encounter a series of adventures. Some are neat, like when they find an owl that’s been burrowed underground. Other times are more gruesome and include a near-drowning and cut, bloody hand.
The formal considerations of the photographs and their subject matter can’t help but make someone think of Wes Anderson’s film Moonrise Kingdom. Baxter’s work is more surreal and dark, however, where the woods is a character in the tale of these young scouts. (Via Optically Addicted)