Ronit Baranga is an Israeli artist known for her bizarre sculptural works, which include a series of ceramic tablewares hybridized with human body parts: open mouths, protruding tongues, and gouging fingers. These strange, anatomical additions are incredibly detailed, so much so you can make out the the glistening taste buds and knuckle creases. While these pieces are both creepy and attention-grabbing, from a critical standpoint, their meaning may seem a bit elusive; our reactions to them are initially visceral. Speaking to this, Baranga writes:
“I would like that anyone who sees my work feels something – what they feel is not relevant to me, as long as they feel. I hope that the emerging feelings will cause the viewers to think about the ideas behind my work… The combination of ceramic cups with ceramic fingers represent an idea in which the still creates a will of its own, enabling a cup to decide whether to stay or leave the situation it is in.” (Source)
Baranga’s designs, then, grant inanimate objects a form of agency: the plates desire to eat, the finger-walking teacups seek to wander, and their self-awareness challenges the way we think about and interact with such objects. What they also explore is the way eros is incorporated into unexpected things. The parted lips and probing fingers — both of which are erogenous body parts used in sexual exploration — elicit erotic associations. However, there is also an element of revulsion: imagine a stranger’s hands digging through your food, recognize that the hungry mouths emerging on your plate are the receptacles for the unglamorous digestive process. Baranga’s works may arouse you, but they will also suppress your appetite.
Check out Baranga’s website for more of her fascinating sculptural works. (Via Juxtapoz)
Since 2009,Tony Orrico has performed his Penwald drawings. Combining elements found in dance, theater and performance art, it explores repetitive movement for long periods of time, bringing drawing’s motion into peril with human physicality. The idea originates in finding a point when an act becomes more than just motor skills and crosses over into the creative process. In Tony’s case, this leaves an aesthetic mark on physical existence in the form of an abstract drawing.
After graduating with an MFA in Choreography from the University of Iowa, Tony joined Shen Wei and Trisha Brown Dance companies. As a principle, he performed in major cities around the globe, including Sydney Opera House. Both troupes known for an avant garde approach ensured that he was never far away from a serious art practice. When he was ready, this enabled him to use the experience he learned as a dancer and combine it with his passion for drawing. One of his first Penwald performances at Postmasters Gallery, NY in 2009, would set the stage for everything that followed. From there, he received an opportunity to perform at The National Academy Of Sciences in Washington DC, and was soon taking his “Penwald” series to venues worldwide. He was one of the few selected to reappropriate performances from Marina Ambramovic’s retrospective, “The Artist is present” at New York’s Museum Of Modern Art, an experience he was honored to have.
His newest project, CARBON, further investigates the relationship between material, body and movement. Again, testing the limits of physical, mental and creative capacity, Tony sleeps in a box of graphite broken off throughout the course of a day, from Mexican pottery bowls. The material is used as a metaphor for life and death. A few recent highlights include performances at The Metz-Pompidou, New Museum, BAM, and solo Exhibits at PPOW Gallery NY, MUAC Mexico and Shoshanna Wayne Gallery Los Angeles.
We have all been haunted by something worrying or had nightmares we just can´t forget. And so has German photographer Elena Helfrecht. She uses her camera as a therapeutic device to overcome her worries, fears and nightmares. After shooting many dark and dramatic photographs exploring the depths of human emotions, Helbrecht has quite the oeuvre of dramatic images. She works with many different narratives, creating a mini story in each frame. Last week we featured her past series Little Stories, this time are focusing on her collection called Nightmares. A bunch of disturbing snapshots, each photograph represents something that has been frightening to Helbrecht at some point.
Scenes of long creepy fingers reaching out of cupboards and from around doors, bodies smeared in blood or wrapped in plastic have such an impact, they will haunt you nearly as much as an actual nightmare. Helbrecht tells us a bit more about her inspiration:
“Nightmares developed from my very beginnings as a photographer and continues to grow. The series shows exactly what it describes: my very own nightmares. The series is a mix of early visions which I used to have as a child (a great fear were creatures coming from my closet and taking me with them for example) and abstract dark emotions and anxieties. By visualizing these thoughts, feelings and visions I get rid of them. Whenever I am inspired and have a picture in my mind I get my camera and pull it out of my head. By visualizing your inner demons you somehow remove their power. It gets less terryfing; you somehow disclose the darkness you previously feared.”
You would think from someone who spends a lot of time expressing horrific and challenging thoughts, that her work would have a heavy severity to it, but the end result is quite different – they are something of a melancholic, sentimental memory, albeit ones often filled with blood.
The hilariously witty graphic designer Viktor Hertz takes the ever-annoying, monotonous progress bar and turns it into an image full of funny graphics that cleverly reference things like The Walking Dead, Star Wars, and existential questions. Each “progress bar” is turned into similarly shaped objects such as a chocolate bar and a cigarette. Even the buttons are now comical pop-culture references and decisions like “use the force” or “join the dark side.” Instead of just the decision of clicking “okay” or “cancel,” we now have interesting choices to make. Some of the buttons are not unlike video games, such as The Walking Dead progress bar asking us if we want to use a knife or a headshot to ward off the impending crowd of zombies. Other buttons are possible real life decisions such as whether or not to quit smoking. Nevertheless, the shapes and phrases Hertz offers us in these unusual graphics are much more appealing than the irritating and disruptive real life progress bars.
Being a talented graphic designer who has created many posters and logos, this fun side project takes Hertz’s love of icons and symbols and turns them into silly pictograms. These amusing images remind me of what someone might doodle in school when they are bored, just to entertain themselves and get through the day. If only computers really did use these graphics instead of the normal, mundane “progress bars” and other delays that cause such a nuisance in our everyday lives.
Encased in white-framed boxes are Crystal Wagner’s intricate cut paper sculptures. Like specimens meant for studying, parts of textured tentacles and honeycomb-esque patterns wrap around themselves as well as non-representational wavy shapes. Wagner’s work is meticulous, and each scalloped edge has its own slightly-curled edge. It’s reminiscent of a dragon or a reptile, but not one that we’ve ever seen before. The vibrant colors feature jewel-toned gradients that push her sculptures from quasi-reality into full-blown fantasy.
These works first made their appearance at the Hashimoto Contemporary gallery in San Francisco in 2014. Her exhibition was titled Synesthesia, and the intention was to explore the psychological realm between the familiar and strange. The gallery writes, “…combining screen printing, cut paper and various dollar store items, Wagner meticulously assembles her sculptures with a sense of organic growth. Allowing her materials to build upon themselves, layer by layer, each structure swells into a mass of movement, as if grown from the soil of another planet.”
Marie-Lou Desmeules is French-Canadian artist currently based in Spain who uses layers of paint and plastic to perform “surgery” on people, sculpting them into bizarre representations of celebrities, world leaders, housewives, bondage, and more. Encounter Desmeules’ creations and you will undoubtedly look twice (or thrice): her “living canvases” are alarming and oftentimes grotesque. The slabs of paint make her sculptures look as if their skin is about slough off like wax in a fire, leaving a mouldering skeleton beneath (when, in fact, there is real flesh and bone). The glued-on hair also lends to a creepy, cadaverous effect. There is a tangible element of satirical humor, as well; from Obama’s Mickey Mouse ears, to fashion icon’s Karl Lagerfeld’s melted face, to the manic smile of a woman on a blind date, Desmeules has done a brilliant job exploring the line between disgust and delight.
Shock and intrigue aside, Desmeules’ choice of “living portraiture” is rife with social commentary. By disfiguring admired cultural icons such as world leaders and celebrities — people who always appear to be perfectly composed — she playfully “dethrones” them, unveiling them in all their flaws and fleshly humanity. As John J. Staughton writes:
“Celebrities are praised for their beauty and perfection, yet that isn’t what makes them so desirable or recognizable, as Desmeules’ work shows. It is actually the very fact of their fame and prominence that draws us to them; they are as grotesque and outside the realm of normalcy as anyone with a humpback or a facial deformity. Our attraction is just as powerful in the opposite direction.” (Source)
As a further comment on standards of beauty and perfection, Desmeules calls her sculptures “surgeries.” Instead of a scalpel, her instruments are her paint brushes and hands, moulding “normal” people into “idolized” figures who end up mutilated by projected aspirations of status and beauty; what was once venerated and desirable becomes ludicrous and revolting. Desmeules’ work is a sobering — and amusing — reminder of the power of the image to influence and deceive. (Via Juxtapoz)
A beautiful drawing lures you in. It enamors and feeds an aesthetic which is similar to falling in love. The senses are heightened and you feel good. It allows you to breath and stop for a moment and reflect. It acts as an aphrodisiac brought on not only by creator but viewer who enables it to live.
Jillian Dickson creates drawings filled with love. After giving birth to her son she reflected on the powerful connection between us and nature. This spawned a series which entwined placentas and umbilical chords with delicate budding flowers, insects and plants. Like the connection between mother and child the parts symbolize our union to every living thing in the world. In a weird way, the drawings recall The Matrix. There’s something deeper to be found behind expertly rendered flowers and parts which cannot be seen but felt.
The floral arrangements in Dickson’s drawings bloom off the page in round shapes resembling mandalas. The ultra detailing giving them not an artificial but almost surreal touch. Done in colored pencil, the fine point and light stroke needed to produce these intriguing pieces of paper preoccupies most of Dickson’s studio practice. They are labor intensive and done with much thought and care. Some past projects have involved two elephants, tumors and plants, hanging bodies and pastel babies. She has exhibited all over the world including The Louvre in Paris for Drawing Now and Manifest Drawing Gallery in Cincinnati, Ohio. She currently lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and works part time at Elon University.
When photographer Klaus Pichler was moving out of his old apartment in Vienna, he noticed something peculiar about the dust on the floor. In the living room, dust bunnies were red while the mitesin his bedroom were light blue. This led to something of an epiphany for Pichler, and he realized that dust isn’t always gray like we so often see – there are varieties. Inspired by that experience, the photographer started a years-long series that chronicles the accumulation of different dust particles. Aptly titled Dust, it recently culminated into a book of the same name.
Pinchler’s dust gathering was similar to collecting specimens to study. He retrieved them with tweezers, placed each in their own Petri dish, numbered, and inventoried them. Photographing the dust proved trickier, and it required Pinchler renting an expensive 120mm macro lense and capturing them all within 24 hours. They were left unaltered and their tiny, exquisite beauty shines in these up-close images.
From police stations to subway stations and pet stores, each gathering of dust has its own idiosyncrasies. The pet shop, for instance, has tiny, brightly-colored feathers and wood chips for the animals. There’s less hair in it than the police station, which has threads, metal, and leaves swirling around in a matted ball.