Massachusetts-based visual artist Aliza Razell combines photography and watercolor painting in her series of self-portraits that feature splashes and spills of color. Razell uses watercolors to enhance the vitality of her photographs by evoking mythological and psychological themes. One series, “Anesidora,” represents the Pandora’s jar narrative (the myth features a jar, not a box, as commonly believed) and another series, ikävä, is the Finnish word for missing or longing after something. Razell’s photography-watercolor combination perfectly captures the humanity and surreality of mythological events and the poetic evocations of a fleeting feeling. (via fubiz)
Simultaneously showcasing the art of construction as well as deconstruction, photographer Brandon Edgar Allen captures the inner workings of some of our favorite video game controllers in his series entitled Deconstructed. The Sega Dreamcast, Nintendo 64, and Playstation consoles are all represented with their circuit boards, buttons, and plastic containers neatly organized on a rustic wood background. Allen’s photographs depict controllers that were played until they wouldn’t play any more. Buttons are worn down and mutilated. Plastic is dirty and torn. Sometimes, the parts were fried.
Despite its niche appeal, these objects are so ingrained into our culture that even you can probably recognize them even if you don’t play video games. The shape of the controller has become an symbol for its specific console and our not-so-new national pastime, especially as the next generation Playstations and XBoxes come with increasingly more “non game” features.
Fans and non fans can both appreciate this series. Those who love video games will enjoy the nostalgia that comes from seeing these well-loved controllers. Those who aren’t video game fanatics can enjoy Allen’s work as a study of objects, and a series full of small idiosyncrasies. (Via Junk Culture) Read More >
The French digital painter Lostfish creates an uncomfortable yet irresistibly alluring landscape of feminine powers; her bashful, pink-cheeked subjects reign supreme, adorned in precious jewels and sparkling crowns. The artist’s characters are abuzz with their own fertility, as expressed by bouncing nude breasts and lush flowers that seem to spring up from underfoot; also pictured are rabbits and eggs, symbols art historically associated with breeding and copulation.
The artist, influenced in part by 19th century art, works within a Victorian sensibility, reveling in an innocent, doll-like vision of femininity; her subjects, pale skinned and with impossibly delicate figures, become queens, armed with crowns and tridents. Lostfish’s female characters also seem pious, divine even; a few wear dismembered hands as jewelry, reminiscent of religious icons like the hand of God or the hand of Fatima. White flowers with yellow centers, often symbolic of the Virgin Mary in Christian art, stand in the place of youthful, milky nipples.
Yet within Lostfish’s ethereal and seductive images, there seems to linger an ominous supernatural strength within womankind. Where the Victorian woman is domestic and obedient, Lostfish’s heroines roam like wood nymphs, emboldened by their own reproductive powers; in one image depicting a human fetus within a pink oval, a foreboding reptilian creature seems to invade the womb, its grotesque navel in full view. In one painting, doll faces emerge in a group of six from blood red roses, reminiscent of biblical devil. These tempting, enchanting women dress in excess, giving themselves over to material pleasures. In Lostfish’s gorgeous imaginings the female is both delicate and demure, ravenous and dangerous. Take a look. (via HiFructose) Read More >
The German performance artist Milo Moire gives birth to her paintings… literally; in pushing eggs, filled with ink and acrylic paint, from her vaginal canal, she allows them to break and splatter onto a pristine white canvas. The unusual work, titled “PlopEgg,” necessitates that the artist be nude from head to toe, and it is the first of a series of similar performances at the opening of 2014’s Art Cologne fair.
For Moire, the work embodies the creative and spontaneous powers of femininity; her exposed body and vagina give rise to streaming rivers of earthy colors: rich reds, browns, and grays. The muddied hues recall human birth, from the breaking of the water to the release of blood; her hulking, straining body stands like a statue on high, and the act of labor is elevated, made majestic and potent. The visceral image of her lengthy squat, the cracking noise as egg hits pavement, serves as a testament to the symbolic strength of the vagina, the power of both woman and the creative mind to conceive and reproduce.
Inspired perhaps by Carolee Schneemann’s 1975 InteriorScroll (and even Casey Jenkins‘s recent vaginal knitting project), Moire uses her internal sex organ to birth something external and tangible, but she simplifies the process; where Schneemann removed complex words, Moire births primitive splashes of colors. In doing so, she doubles the sensuality and feminine context of her efforts; where text is often associated with maleness, the chaotic, free-flowing aesthetic of “EggPlop” is normally iconographically linked to womanhood.
At the close of her performance, the artist folds her paper canvas like a bed sheet, sweeping over it so as to transfer the paint from one side the another. In this way, the image is reproduced; like a cell divided, one becomes two. The symmetrical of the resultant image is also evocative of the female reproductive system, vividly mirroring the uterine structure. Take a look. (via Source Fed) Read More >
In his series Evergreen, the photographer Bjørn Haldorsen visits the Evergreen funeral home in Brooklyn; like throwing flour on the invisible man, his images hope to give form to the invisible, intangible notion of death. In capturing the peripheral objects and mundane moments of embalming and service preparation, he paints a poignantly nuanced portrait of mortality.
These bitterly honest slices of a life once lived avoid sentimentality or theatricality. Unlike in Victorian post-mortem photography, Haldorsen avoids full portraits of the dead, opting instead to capture the seemingly banal elements of the business of death. Staff members arrange casket pillows routinely and perfunctorily, and only the corner of an urn is shot, revealing the accidental dust allowed to collect around it.
Yet within the work is a potent thread of emotionality and love as seen through subtle tricks of light; where a gray-haired body rests on a gurney, a figure, basks divinely in an overexposed door, as if to mourn in mysterious and unknowable ways. Similarly, a man sits in a dimly-lit room, sequestered from the lonesome darkness of the funeral space. Lifeless hands with yellowed nails seem to reach out at the viewer, exhaustedly collapsing on sanitary plastic wrapping, and swelled feet are contorted by wear, dirt still caught between their nails. Youthful hands gently insert a match flame into the wrinkled nose of the diseased; the ritual frozen forever, made to feel sacred and painfully intimate.
Haldorson’s vision of death reads as jarringly rational, offering little solace in the face of death, and yet upon closer inspection, viewers may discover hints of hope, the slightest traces of loving memory, preserved forever. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot) Read More >
The Nairobi-based artist, Michael Soi, was asked by The Center for African Family Studies (CAFS), a Nairobi-based international NGO, to work along their side in order to create an eye-catching condom line with pop art-inspired packaging to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.
Soi is primarily known for his satirical commentary on socio-political issues (political impunity, greed and Kenya’s growing sex industry). Unafraid to shy away from taboo subjects like sex and interracial relationships, the artist was more than happy to collaborate with the NGO on this important project.
“I felt like everybody is basically trying to deal with this whole issue — HIV, unwanted pregnancies — and when I talk about everybody I mean the church is doing whatever they can, the government is doing whatever they can.I felt the project was a good thing. I wanted to try to chip in and create something that would help fight a good fight.”
Soi’s visual work offers a grounded and relatable aesthetic that engages with the targeted public in a very fun way; his subjects are modern, often interracial couples or young women drinking Tusker, a popular Kenyan beer brand. His “pop-art condoms” are meant to attract young buyers who might otherwise face social stigma.
According to CNN, the project is in its on its first stages, and they are asking for funding on Indiegogo. (Via CNN)
The late and great author Kurt Vonnegut was a visual artist, too. If you’re a fan of his writing, then you probably already knew that drawings by him appear in 1973’s Breakfast of Champions and that he illustrated the cover for Man Without a Country in 2005. But in the mid-1990’s, Vonnegut shipped his daughter Nanette a plethora of drawings. She kept them in her studio’s flatfiles (she’s a visual artist, too) until now, when the artwork was made into a book and is part of a touring exhibition titled Kurt Vonnegut Drawings. The book is published by Monacelli Press and features 145 selections of his work.
Playful line drawings are composed using pen and marker. The abstract and surreal works, in which things transform and morph to become something other than themselves, include fragments of the written word. One drawing includes a steep set of stair and muses, “There is a ceiling on human thoughts.” Other wordless works often include a minimalist portrait or figure. They are free-flowing images that feel like a stream of consciousness.
The published book includes essays written by his daughter and scholar (and Vonnegut friend) Peter Reed. He writes, “great value of this collection is that Vonnegut’s artwork gives us another perspective on his restless imagination and his creative genius. … There are constraints in writing that even the iconoclastic Vonnegut felt, but in his art he seems wholly uninhibited.” (Via Hyperallergic)
The legendary photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, previously featured here and now on view at LA’s Jack Ruthberg Gallery, weaves strange erotic narratives through his staged images, some of which take weeks to complete. His body of work reads like a love poem to the grotesque, transforming what society deems taboo into miraculously beautiful scenes.
Witkin’s images avoid judging the body, opting instead to reveal mankind’s universal but most private erotic yearnings and fears. In his reinterpretation of Canova’s famously sensual yet demurely reclining Venus, for example, naked male genitalia slip from cover as if by accident, the organ poignantly vulnerable, delicate, and human, seemingly caught between erection and flaccidity.
Sexual hunger again becomes the subject of another image that seems to deconstruct Romantic paintings like Theodore Gericault’s The Raft of The Medusa, famed for its haunting depiction of dead, drowning flesh. Here, a suspenseful, tragic rescue effort is transformed into a sort of desperate orgie on the verge of climax; a pair of heaving breasts is grabbed like melons.
The erotic, though filled with the dangers of physical and spiritual nakedness, is often elevated to the divine. A shirtless woman, her breasts bared, inserts her finger into a book much like the Virgin Mary in Renaissance paintings of the Annunciation. In these photographs, nuns pose alongside nudes, and horns (symbolic of lust) are merged with crowns of thorns (symbolic of Christ)
The gorgeous set of images challenge societal ideas of social acceptability, implying that the most exquisite beauty is often found in our most frightfully private moments of lust and longing. Within all of us, lies erotic impulses that can manifest in magical and dangerous ways. Be sure to check out Witkin’s work at Jack Ruthberg Gallery, where he will exhibit alongside his long-estranged brother, the legendary painter Jerome Witkin. (via Lenscratch and Etherton Gallery) Read More >