Kara Walker’s new sculpture “A Subtlety” is pure white, coated in 160,000 pounds of bleached sugar; with this modern take on the ancient sphinx, the legendary artist crafts a towering black face in honor of the slave laborers who worked in sugar cane fields. The powerful work is meant to address racial and sexual exploitation; like the sugar that coats her polystyrene core, this black female figure has been pressured, against nature, into succumbing to whiteness.
The work is now on display at the old Williamsburg, Brooklyn Domino sugar factory shed, where it reaches to the ceiling and extends for a magnificent 75 feet. The mythical creature is a powerful assertion of the black female self; the face quite resembles the artists’ own, and a carefully wrought bandana subtly references the stereotypical (and often offensive) symbol of the mammy, a slave woman who nurtured and brought up white children. Walker has been the subject of debate in the past for her use of contested imagery, and despite the controversy surrounding the “mammy” figure, she is presented here as powerful and divine.
Like the ancient sphinxes of Egypt and Greece, Walker’s monolithic creation is godly, simultaneously fearsome and comforting. The sphinx, known for protecting the tombs of royalty, becomes the guardian of history, interrupting a white-washed historical narrative to make visible the labor of the men and women who were kept enslaved. Her face is serene, assured, and unyielding. The sphinx character, in addition to being a protector, is also dangerous, renowned for devouring those who cannot answer her riddle; Walker’s sphinx is similarly confrontational in her overwhelming size, forcing viewers to confront the complex and painful history of American industry. (via The New York Times)
Japanese artist Yoshitoshi Kanemaki’s Camphor wood sculptures show a wide variety of wondrous human abnormalities. From a nine headed school girl to a 20 something young man with his skeletal structure resting outside his skin, kanemaki combines surreal imagery and painstakingly precise carving to bring his figures to life.
The work of Australian sculptor Sam Jinks may haunt you for quite a while. Although they are made from silicon, resin, paint, fiberglass, calcium carbonate and human hair, his hyper-realistic figures look like real humans caught sleeping. It is hard to believe they can’t just wake up and walk away. Jinks recreates all details accurately and painstakingly, creating amazingly anatomically correct characters, each complete with a history embedded into their wrinkles and tattoos.
Captured in private moments, these beautifully serene characters seem to be contemplating their past. Instantly intimate, Jink’s work has a way of using these quiet characters to reflect our own sense of mortality back onto ourselves. From a grandmother holding a new born baby, to a man grieving over a lost relative, or an elderly woman displaying her youthful tattoos on her torso, all of these figures are somehow a reminder that our human bodies disintegrate and decay as wonderfully, beautifully and as easily as they strengthen and grow.
[His] sculptures [have] a powerful presence, which at times is confused with a man’s. This is unusual…. You’d never confuse a Bernini for a real human. You just accept that it’s an illustrious effigy and not a real person. But, as with the realist sculptures of Ron Mueck, the proximity to human textures is uncanny. The slightly puffy belly, the hardness of the ribs, the lankness of the unsupported legs: it’s almost too lifelike. (Source)
Jink’s work fits into a theory of “Uncanny Valley” (an idea relating to robotics, computer animations and body modification) where an inanimate object is uncannily similar to a human, but isn’t actually one. This effect supposedly creates feeling of repulsion and disgust, which could well happen with these sculptures as well. They are unsettling, yes but definitely objects of curiosity.
Caleb Weintraub recently had a show open at Peter Miller Gallery. The show is filled with hyper-colored paintings of kids in war uniforms riding boars, eating gators, and holding longest beard contests. Interesting to say the least! Make sure to see the show before it comes down on October 17th.
Also one of these paintings in the show will also be featured in B/D Book 2 so if you’re a fan of Caleb’s work make sure to Subscribe!
Combine of Shapes is a series of paired images by Yooyoungkyu, unexpected combinations linked by either a visual or thematic commonality. The pairings allow the viewer to notice things in the images they may not have seeing them individually.
Recent university graduate Claudio De Luca has been experimenting with merging traditional sculptural methods with new technologies and coming up with some exciting results. He works with ceramics, bronze casting, wax and wood for the base of her artworks, and builds on them using modern, digital-based techniques. His final year’s work at the Cardiff School of Art and Design featured a series of ceramic skulls and heads that were filled with different material, and had cubic shapes bursting out from their fronts.
De Luca has been trying his hand at laser cutting, 3D printing, 3D scanning, 3D modelling, and CNC machining. The combination of these different methods are a nice metaphor for the subject of De Luca’s work. He explores the ideas of identity and representation in a modern world, and especially how we present ourselves in the digital world. He says:
Ones portrayal of themselves in an online ecosystem is largely skewed, this is a feature of who they should be, never are the insecurities shown or the flaws revealed. Vulnerabilities such as these are how we define our best attributes and ultimately forge long lasting relationships.
I look at how the facets of ones self are greatly lessened when choosing what information to construct in the digital space, through 3D scanning a person, I digitally ‘decimate’ the facets their faces are made of thus abstracting there true self. This I feel is what would best visually represent ones online identity in a digital setting. The less facets to be seen, the less a person is truly showing of themselves.
He uses the shapes in her work as a metaphor for the two realities merging – the physical and the digital. The effect of these ‘hollow faces’ are a scary reflection of what type of people we are becoming in this digital age. It makes you want to check your own reflection in the mirror, doesn’t it?
Stephen Wilkes‘ “Day to Night” series captures the day-to-night transitions that occur in familiar cityscapes. Each image represents a collection of moments, not just a singular moment in time. About 50 photographs out of around 1,500 shots taken over the course of 12-15 hours comprise each single resulting photograph. During his shoots, Wilkes doesn’t allow himself bathroom breaks and when he eats, he eats meals brought to him in a bucket because it’s imperative that the photographer pay careful attention to the emptiness or potential overlaps of each shot. Wilkes’ composite photographs document movements within the same space from sunrise to sunset, each image capturing the transitions these spaces undergo on a daily basis.
For Time, Wilkes offers a descriptive caption of many images. Of his Wrigley Field photograph he explains, “This photograph was taken during the course of a Day/Night double header, a rare occurrence these days in major league baseball. Wrigley Field is the Grand Temple of baseball parks. It will change dramatically within the next year, as large jumbotrons will be installed into the stadium, forever changing this view. While the morning was sunny and clear, the afternoon made for a real challenge photographically. We had rain showers on and off throughout the day, and into the evening.”
There is something intrinsically fascinating about seeing the ordinary created in new, surprising ways. Artist have long used this technique to make their viewer contemplate new connections and possibilities, and the internet has proven to be a particularly useful tool in spreading this type of work. South Korean artist Seon Ghi Bahk is an expert at this method. Using charcoal and other natural materials en masse to form familiar objects, Bahk reminds of us the connection between man-made goods and their source.
Bahk’s precision is absolute, meticulously hanging large groups of charcoal at specific heights to collectively echo architectural and building elements, such as stairs, columns, shelves and planters. Using translucent nylon thread to hang individual pieces gives each installation a floating quality, further separating them from their everyday inspiration.
In an interview with the Korean Art Museum’s Korean Artist Project, Bahk explains how he came to use charcoal in his installation work. “I first used stones as materials for the installations…but the supporting structure and installation became unnecessarily large and overwhelmed the stones so I replaced the stones with charcoal. Since I spent my childhood out in nature, I wanted to embrace natural things in my work. I found that my favorite things in nature were wind, mountains and trees. But it was difficult to express wind or mountains in my work, so I chose trees as an alternative, and charcoal comes derives from that…now I seek natural encounters between man and culture…I emphasize the materiality in its poetic shapes.”