Photographer Nat Wilkins spent two weeks documenting the ceremonies and death rituals of the Troajan tribe in the highlands of South Sulawesi in Indonesia. In his series Dealing With The Dead, The Troajan Of Tana Toraja, he takes a close up look at this fascinating world and wishes to examine his own understanding of death and decay. The funerals carry on for a number of days and are one of the most important part of the culture in the highlands of Tana Toraja. When a family member dies, they are embalmed and lay waiting inside the family home until the ceremony can take place. Wilkins explains a bit more about the process:
When the time of the funeral comes illegal cock fighting, illegal gambling, buffalo fighting and the slaughter of buffaloes and pigs mark the occasion. The wealthier the family the grander the funeral, with this grandness being marked by the number of buffalo slaughtered, a minimum of one buffalo is required to pass to the land of souls but wealthier families will slaughter 10 to 20 sometimes 30 buffalo and the richest Torajan’s will kill hundreds.
To some these rituals may seem over-elaborate, and excessive, but to the Troajans, it is essential to ensure their loved ones cross over safely to the ‘land of souls’. Devoutly Christian, the tribe places great emphasis on life after death, or the treatment of the body and soul once dead. The living who are left behind, make great sacrifices to provide what is needed for those who have passed. But with the weight of this responsibility comes much hardship. Wilkins explains again:
From an outside perspective it can seem that to the living these funerals are used as a reflection on the importance of the deceased’s family, a status symbol for the rich. On the flip side though, death can be a serious burden on the poor. Every spare penny earned by the living goes to honoring the dead and the importance of a good funeral puts serous weight on the poorer Torajan’s with the poorest getting serious debt problems just to slaughter a buffalo.
Japanese designer and all around nice guy Susumu Fukuzaki just sent us a cool little book of us work that he calls his “new anthology” on his blog. Some fairly unusual work…I’m sort of at a loss as for any possible references to describe it. It sort of reminds me the kind of stuff the Church of the Subgenius or Negativland did in the 1990s.
Middle Boop is the alias of graphic designer Gordon Reid. His design work is very colorful and dynamic and some of the work has some reminiscence of science fiction novel covers from the 50s and 60s. Elements of color, shape, imagery and dimension, Middle Boop’s composition are put together in a collage manner and quite enjoyable to look at. He also has a blog and a zine under the Middle Boop name.
When Elana Pritchard was sent to the women’s division of the Los Angeles County jail for two months in July 2014, she decided to document her experience using only the paper available to her and a golf pencil. She witnessed strange, horrific, even threatening situations, but was able to turn the time into something productive and enlightening for her readers. Even right from the first moment on the bus from the court hearing to the jail, she observed some unbelievable things.
I saw some ugly things on that bus: prostitution, nudity, profanity. A group of male prisoners ganged up on me and thought they could pressure me to show them my breasts — in exchange for crystal meth. I tried telling them to mind their manners, but it didn’t work. I just had to sit there and wait for it to be over. Even though they were all in handcuffs and blocked off by a barrier, they still succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure if the guards knew what went on in the back of the bus, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t care. (Source)
Subjected to a squat and cough every time upon re-entering the jail, along with 40 other people in the room, Pritchard fast learned to forget about any sort of dignity. Humiliation and verbal abuse were everyday occurrences for the inmates. Hygiene standards were questionable, and the ladies were supplied with used underwear to put on each week.
Every jail has it’s myths and legends, and Pritchard does a good job of accurately confirming or dismissing even the most outrageous ones. Read more about her experience and see more drawings here. (Via LA Weekly)
Toni Spyra lives and works in Vienna, Austria. He creates alarming sculptures made out of mundane objects. From a canister of pepper spray with a perfume applicator attached, to a clothes hanger with a saw blade; these threatening works immediately announce their inherent danger and allow the viewer to reflect on safety and self protection in our culture.
I’m a little bit in love with the work of Tel Aviv-based artist, Guy Yanai. He chooses to paint routine spaces and objects that range from his therapists office to potted plants. He then abstracts the images into simplistic bright colored shapes that leave you with a graphic imprint of the everyday. Check out more of his work after the jump.
Nice outdoor work from mysterious artist 2501. Applying undulating zebra marks all over the place, his style flows nicely from piece to piece, whether he’s doing a huge scene involving horse-riding bandits or understated characters intriguingly placed within the landscape. It seems he’s moving more and more toward a black and white direction this year, and the resulting high levels of contrast produce a nice dynamic between the walls and their surrounding environments. Click past the jump to see more street work and head over to the artist’s site for works on canvas as well.