Jen Davis has been photographing herself continuously for over a decade. Her series of self-portraits have resulted in a book called ‘11 Years‘ and is a powerful exploration of identity, beauty and body image. Picking up the camera when she was an undergraduate in 2002, she put herself in front of the lens to kick start her creativity.
‘For a long time I was taking photographs and they were always to do with the body, or loneliness, or desire,’ she says. ‘But I was never really comfortable putting myself in front of the camera.’ (Source)
Her photos are at once deeply personal, but still widely universal. These themes she addresses are ones we all know: intimacy, love, insecurity. We see Davis in moments that are intensely private – sitting on her bed fresh from the shower, towel around her head, buttoning up her cardigan; lying in bed in the arms of a lover, looking forlorn and uneasy (Fantasy No 1, 2004). She captures such truthful, non-embellished moments – like the fight to button up clothes that are too small for us, that we can’t help but empathize with her struggle. Davis manages to dispel any ideas of being a victim of obesity. Davis goes on to say:
“In the work what I kept returning to is: What is love? Am I loveable? Can someone find me attractive?… At home with mundane surroundings, I treated the camera as if it were my lover—the camera desiring me, providing me the glimpse of what was missing in my life…..In a way what I was doing was seducing myself. I couldn’t necessarily identify with the idea of someone seeing me as ‘beautiful,’ but I could accept that the pictures that I created and inhabited were. It was a very contradictory experience.” (Source)
Ironically after losing 7 stone, Davis has felt less inclined to turn the camera on herself. To find out what she is photographing now, go here.
Galleries come in all sizes, even in a really, really tiny scale. Swedish graphic designer and illustrator Henrik Franklin has created an installation that’s something you’d be more likely to see in a dollhouse than anywhere else. But, instead of a bedroom, it’s located at the Odenplan underground station at Gallery 1:10 in Stockholm, Sweden. The group exhibition is titled If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance. Franklin’s piece features a library of colorful books, all small enough that you can hold between two fingers.
In a show centered around worries of the future and the holding on to hope, Franklin’s tiny books represent how important literature is in our development. It teaches us the lessons of the past so we won’t be doomed to repeat them; prose also encourages and inspires us to dream and to think differently.
If You Tolerate This – an exhibition about resistance is on view until December 6.
Tom Fruin made his solo debut at Mike Weiss Gallery with quilts made of drug baggies. 11 years later, his sculptures maintain reference to that mosaic, but have taken on a different form as colourful plexiglass architecture. The baggies for his earlier artworks were found on the street and sewn into a pastiche. It actually seems like quite a natural progression for Fruin to go from baggies to plexiglass that imitates stained glass. The baggies already had the feeling of stained glass windows, and the choice to use plexiglass instead of glass allows the work to maintain that plastic durability or roughness that regular glass would not.
Fruin’s most recent sculpture is installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The structure has lights installed on the inside, so that at night it is lit up. Whether lit from the sun during the day or at night by the artificial lighting, the colourful shadows cast by the installation are totally enjoyable. It’s interesting that stained glass and drug baggies should come together so coherently in Fruin’s work. From his rather turbulent beginning as a divisive artist, Fruin is cooling it down with this work. Still, as stained glass belongs to a religious symbolism, the invocation of the baggie configuration remains a mildly daring one.
Famed Los Angeles artist Paul McCarthy was attacked in Paris on Thursday while finishing the installation of his nearly 80-foot tall sculpture, called Tree, outside the Place Vendôme. Paul McCarthy, who contributed this piece to the FIAC’s “Hors Les Murs” program, was punched in the face multiple times by an unknown assailant who was enraged by the nature of the sculpture. Tree, although ambiguously shaped and rather indistinct, happens to distinctly look like either a Brancusi sculpture or, less poetically, like a butt plug.
The angry assailant, or shall we say “pain in the ass,” was also enraged that McCarthy is indeed NOT French, and yet is showing work at this prestigious venue. Luckily, McCarthy was not seriously injured, despite being shaken and disturbed by the incident. McCarthy explained that the sculpture “started as a joke.” He primarily noted that butt plugs and Brancusi sculptures shared a similar silhouette, which eventually led to the realization that a green object of this shape also resembles a Christmas tree. Thus, Tree was erected.
“But it is an abstract work. People may be offended if they want to refer to [it as a] plug, but, for me, it is more of an abstraction.”
FIAC director Jennifer Flay noted that despite the understood controversial aspect of the sculpture, the inherent ambiguity in it precludes it from being offensive or unsuitable for public view. It was fully approved before installation by all local bodies. (Excerpt from Source)
To see more naughty work by Paul McCarthy go here.
Luka Fineisen creates installations that invade gallery spaces using (seemingly) natural elements like bubbles, sand, and ice. Her materials are varied. In the case of her most recent installation, the bubbles are not made of soap solution, but plastic. They imitate the real thing perfectly, creating an ethereal experience for the viewer. Although they’re as tempting to touch as real bubbles, unfortunately, you’d still be in an art gallery, so no such luck! The bubbles are tantalizingly playful and light. It’s a beautifully effortless piece.
Most of Fineisen’s artwork functions in the realm of mild fantasy relating to the natural world. Sometimes, as with her hay installation, the materials are real. The hay makes an amusing statement. In the photo, it seems to sit and stare out at you from inside some sort of freight elevator. In another, Fineisen creates a sandstorm around the perimeter of a building. In yet another, she has ice an iceberg (made presumably of plastic) encroaching on a staircase. Each explores our delicate relationship with the elements of our world, and she demonstrates how even the most seemingly harmless elements, like bubbles, might form a kind of subtle and humorous counter attack on our space, as we have overtaken the natural world.
Her most overtly political sculpture is of a girl standing beneath a stream of liquid gold pouring from a skylight. She extends her skirt to catch it, and it plops on her face with as much disregard as a stream can have. To me it reads like a rude awakening to the lack of sustenance the gold can actually provide. (Via The Fox is Black)
In the newly-published book titled Hollywood Frame by Frame, author Karina Longworth examines the contact sheet, a necessity in film making before the advent of digital technology. The prints were used by photographer as a way to review and edit their work, and the sheets contain small thumbnails of multiple shots. They were marked, scribbled on, carefully examined to find the perfect shot later used in advertising.
These sheets are alluring; not for how interesting and different each individual frame is, but it’s a tiny glimpse into what went on behind the scenes in famous films. You’re able to see what was and wasn’t chosen, as well as the outtakes. A description for Hollywood Frame by Frame describes it as, “…it’s often the photos not chosen that best capture the true spirit of their subjects and the life they lead after the director yells cut. This was never truer than in the classic Hollywood era, where behind-the-scenes photos were carefully vetted for marketing purposes and unapproved shots were never expected to be seen again.”
Some of the films included in the book are: Some Like It Hot, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Taxi Driver, and Silence of the Lambs. It was published by Princeton Architectural Press.
In 1995, artist Bryan Lewis Saunders decided to create a unique self-portrait every day for the rest of his life. In 2001 he committed to taking a different drug or intoxicant every day before making his daily portrait, calling this sub-series “Under the Influence.” From absinthe and cocaine to cough syrup and computer duster he sniffed, swallowed and smoked his way through interesting art and into mild, but reversible, brain damage.
Though these are only a small fraction of the collection of over 8,600 self-portraits, they have received the most attention, resurfacing in the media over and over throughout the years. Saunders has mixed feelings about this, telling Fast Company:
“To be honest I’m not proud to be on any drugs in any pictures. I think drugs make me look really ugly. And I’m really a six trick pony, but the world only likes one of my tricks. Each year 500,000 kids around the world discover drugs and so the virus never dies.”
The portraits themselves are fascinating. Is it possible that one day of a psychotropic medicine would have such a clear effect? Are some of these images influenced by Saunders perception of the drug, and not the actual effect of the drug itself? Does it even matter?
“For hundreds of years, artists have been putting themselves into representations of the world around them. I am doing the exact opposite. I put the world around me into representations of myself as I find this more true to my Central Nervous System.”
This is art, not a science experiment. If the idea of the drugs has more of an effect on the art than the drugs themselves, that’s Saunders’ artistic prerogative. The work is provocative and often more than a little bit haunting. The brain spilling Saunders on Abilify and the dark, isolated, limbless Saunders on Nitrous Oxide/Valium represent disturbing and disturbed states of mind. Though he no longer takes drugs in the pursuit of art, the self-portrait series continues, and continues to fascinate.
Russian artist Dmitry Morozov has found a way to make sound from tattoo ink. Working to unite robotics with his passion for art and sound, he created a machine that makes music based on the reading of a tattoo on ones’ body. This is Morozov’s way of bringing objects and ideas he cares about closer to one another, as opposed to the distance that the natural world places between such distant and distinct genres.
“In essence, Morozov, also known as ::vtol::, has created a tattoo capable of producing music when scanned with a special instrument. He has one on his own body — an eight-inch long design that appears like a mysterious barcode on his forearm, featured in the video above. With the slide of an eerie, cyborg-like machine, the design produces avant-garde noise appealing to the most highbrow of listeners.
So how does it work? According to The Creator’s Project, the scanning instrument consists of “arduino nano, a metal railing, hand controllers, and a black line sensor (on the tattoo).” A motor guides the mechanism along the inked design, with the lengths of each bar equaling the duration of various sounds. The addition of a Nintendo Wii controller equipped with Open Sound Control enhances the sound possibilities; if he moves his appendage, an accelerometer transforms the movement into distortion.” (Excerpt from Source)