As a kid I collected miniatures. I would go away with my parents and wherever we traveled there seemed to be a store that sold tiny objects. Back then they were mostly for dollhouses but I acquired these curiosities so I could display them on my desk. I thought it was cool that someone could actually make something that small. I remember some of the items in my collection included miniature coca cola bottles, tiny animals (mainly cats) and food such as jelly apples and cakes.
Anton Kusters is a Belgium-based photographer specializing in long-term projects. In 2011, he published his first photobook on the Yakuza, the Japanese organized crime families, that he photographed for two years.
Tell us about your Yakuza project.
‘YAKUZA is a personal visual account of the life inside an inaccessible subculture: A traditional Japanese crime family that controls the streets of Kabukicho, in the heart of Tokyo, Japan. Through 10 months of negotiations with the Shinseikai, my brother Malik and I became one of the only Westerners ever to be granted this kind of access to the closed world of Japanese organized crime.
‘With a mix of photography, film, writing and graphic design, I try to share not only their complex relationship to Japanese society, but also the personal struggle of being forced to live in two different worlds at the same time; worlds that often have conflicting morals and values. It turns out not to be a simple black versus white relationship, but most definitely one with many, many, many shades of grey.’
Giuse Modica (aka Giuse) is an artist/illustrator who really loves skateboarding. In his self-explanatory new series called Animals Skateboarding, Giuse gives some beasts of the wild a chance to share his passion. There’s dogs doing ollies, and eagles doing 360 flips. With a background in drawing and character design, it’s no wonder Modica is able to bring so much personality to each of these animals. Modica attended the Williem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, while also studying abroad at the Art Institute of Boston. Modica also loves doing illustrations for children’s books, so don’t be suprised if you see some of these anthropomorphic characters again!
Jordan Sondler’s drawings and illustrations are full of quirky fun. Check out the geometric noses on all the figures.
Guim Tió Zarraluki is a Spanish mixed media artist who creates work that transforms magazines into haunting and abstract images. Much of his work features portraits sourced from magazine advertisements. He alters the page with chemicals and oil pastels, transforming these “picture perfect” models into abstract, and sometimes unsettling, figures. His work maintains a photorealistic sensibility while containing something haunting and foreboding. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that the artist has left a small part of the magazine untouched or barely altered, leaving a trace of the original during his process. Tió also has a photography series of human figures with faces painted in a similar aesthetic, turning his form back in on itself to create abstracted figurative images. (via)
“The artist stages a controversial issue for contemporary society and his work becomes an exploration of the collective unconscious, which governs the aesthetic valences on all types of human monstrosities in the sign of narcissistic beauty emulation as the key to success; a parody of stereotypes that today govern the new conceptions of the meaning “human being”. (via)
You can watch him at work on a magazine page alteration here.
Polish artist Lukasz Patelczyk paints censored landscapes. The series, actually titled Censored Landscape, depicts natural scenes in severe blacks and whites. Portions of each landscape is hidden behind a white block. Some of the paintings titled variations of Avalanche and Tornado censor the effects of such natural disasters. The censorship leaves a monument like shape in the foreground of indifferent, even harsh landscapes.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see people with copious amounts of tattoos on their arms, legs, and head. But, it wasn’t that long ago that these permanent adornments were only found on a very specific group of people – prisoners. Tattoos back then were markedly different than their modern counterparts, and some were preserved for posterity in formaldehyde. The tiny pieces of history are an eerie but a fascinating look at the past.
The designs of early tattooing were much simpler than they are today. Instead of the needles we’re familiar with, prisoners would use crude tools like razor blades, broken glass, paper clips, or wires. Ink was substituted for pencil refills, charcoal, watercolor paints, or crayons and mixed with water, fat, or urine.
At the beginning of the 20th century, a study of the prisoners’ tattoos began in the Department of Forensic Medicine at Jagiellonian University, and researchers wanted a way to document their findings. While photography might have been the simpler (and more obvious) solution, prisoners’ tattooed skin was removed and preserved.
The extractions, encased in glass, are small curiosities that don’t really look like tattoos at all. Removed from the context of the body, they are symbols for crimes like burglary, rape, and prostitution. (Via Scribol)