Although difficult to generalize, a common theme ties together the exhibitions currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). “At the Far Edge of Words” and “Imaginary Homelands” engage on some level, with the complex reflections of the artists cultural identity in relation to their exchanges with western culture, concepts of otherness, and navigating the hybrid spaces between while defining ‘home’. Rather than allowing these notions to become static, absolute, or restrictive, the artists invoke politics, humour, and nostalgia as a means to mediate their competing definitions of identity.
Zach Hyman’s photographs are concerned with the idea of bodies and boundaries and the spaces they occupy. Often, the bodies he captures are nude and placed in an environment that illuminates the boundaries of nature and culture. Something wonderfully vulnerable is evoked by the placement of these bodies. His subjects, though placed in settings seemingly incongruent with the exposition of their bodies, appear naturally comfortable. The way he captures light and contextualizes these bodies lend his work a universal quality that is at once identifiable and particular.
For American Asylum, photographer Jeremy Harris captures the abandoned interiors of American mental institutions that operated during the 19th century. With the increased presence of psychiatric hospitals, the mid-1800s were characterized in part by a growing fear of the mentally ill. State-funded hospitals were often overcrowded, and there existed a widespread panic that sane people were being wrongfully institutionalized. Nearly two centuries later, Harris hauntingly presents these hospitals, these strange sites of psychological trauma, in decay.
Harris’s soft natural lighting is startling reminiscent of Francisco de Goya’s early 19th century painting The Madhouse. Emptied of its residents, the space seems darkly oppressive, colored in sickly greens and putrid browns. Shot with a profound depth of field, endless hallways house tiny rooms like some perverse dollhouse. The curved ceilings, now in ruin, frame the photographs in currents of claustrophobia.
Even in the shots in which we are offered some escape—the relief of an open door or wide-set window—viewers are compelled to stay within the confining space. Amidst chipped paint and rotting walls are signifiers of some ancient humanity, long forgotten by time: a rusted organ, a tilted chair, a message on the wall. The traces of life and bodies persist in old sinks and forgotten parcels. Somehow, these haunted spaces are beautiful, bathed in light. The people who lived here, once removed from and silenced by society, speak out in the ruins of the building that once contained them, as if to say, “This happened. We were here.” (via Lost at E Minor)
Brazilian cultural organization SESC opens their massive arts show today. As part of the event, Polish “crochet-bombing” artist Olek has added her characteristic textile treatment to a giant crocodile installation in Sao Paulo, where the event is based. The huge, attention-demanding piece was produced in close cooperation with local Brazilian artists. Olek has gained attention for her idiosyncratic hot pink camo-patterned designs, and her ruthless street and gallery installations involving miscellaneous objects wrapped completely in crocheted stitching. The artist has applied her technique to cars, people, Wall Street’s Charging Bull, and more. See images of the recent Sao Paulo piece and examples of various past projects after the jump. (via)
When photographer Bez Uma finished his latest series, “Pieces of June,” his camera suddenly died, fitting right in line with the mysteriously magical and spiritual journey his photos depict. His photos are understated, all the while offering glimmers of the surreal, like small insights to a fantasy world.
Photographers Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida (previously here) found love through photography while attending art school, but they also found a way to combine their interests in gourmet food and miniature worlds by combining them all into playful scenarios. Their most comprehesive series, MINIMIAM, has been an exploration of visual solutions in miniature since 2002. Says Ida, “We’re both food photographer in our daily work, and we’re both quite crazy about cooking, eating and everything about food. So when we started this small people series, naturally we created the stories related to the food.”
The series (a portmanteau from mini and miam, meaning yum! in French), sets miniature figures in whimsical settings, opening up the possibilities of food photography and creating stories from visual puns. The figures are found from model train set kits (usually 1/87 scale), and seen sledding through icing like snow, blowing air into raisins with a handpump to explain the origin of grapes, and recalling Michelangelo by carving away the shell of a peanut to set free the trapped sculpture (peanut) within.
But no, really, Matthew Yake’s series “237 Pieces of Trash Around the Bleachers” is anything but a trash collection. His photos are poignant, clear, and powerful. He’s got other equally awesome series including one of artists in their studios that holds it’s own against other interior powerhouse sites like “The Selby“.