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.
Dutch artist Art Van Triest plays a dangerous game. He encourages people to break the law, just by fitting a jigsaw puzzle piece together. After tracking down different weapons that are illegal to possess (Kalashnikov, Pistol, Machete), he uses a water cutter to splice them up into traditional jigsaw puzzle piece shapes.
For Triest it is important for the work to be made out of an actual weapon, and for the person solving the puzzle to be committing an illegal activity. He tells The Creator’s Project:
According to Dutch law, it is illegal to have any object that can be mistaken for a weapon, even when that weapon it is no longer useable… [to possess] a non-working gun-like object is already prosecutable. As an artist I think it is interesting to create work that embodies a kind of friction, an object that is at once a toy and a weapon. (Source)
Triest creates many different games and playful art pieces he wants the audience to interact with. He aims to change how people perceive everyday items they would normally avoid. In one piece (Dubbellloops / Shake Hands) he has welded two guns together and asks people to hold one trigger at the same time, as a method to ‘get to know each other’. In his installation Platoon, he places visitors looking directly down the barrel of a firing squad and has lasers following them around the space. Exploring the border between ‘object’ and ‘weapon’, Triest turns normally dangerous items into harmless, even playful ones.
Exploring turning other unsuitable objects into puzzles, Triest has a bright idea for his next project, that I’m sure will attract a lot of curious people wanting to solve it.
Artist Serra Victoria Bothwell Fels converts reclaimed wood into unimaginable installations that will leave you lost in their endless, repeating triangles. She builds these spaces in settings as diverse as a convent, an abandoned secret society hall, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The reclaimed wood used to build these impressively complex structures, mostly lath wood, is from unused building materials that Fels finds behind old plaster walls. This Brooklyn based artist says she has always been interested in building mechanics and how things work, which explains why her process exemplifies this curiosity as she takes pieces of the whole to create an entirely new and intricate structure.
Her process starts by creating a blueprint of the future piece, which is an artwork in itself. She then begins to use the found wood to create structures that contain abstracted patterns. Using mostly triangles, each of Fels’s pyramid shaped installations are both organic and geometric. The receding triangles and repetitive lines pull you in and demand your attention. Each triangle in her installations seems to build off of itself, as it spreads and grows across each wall like moss. The structures beautifully transform and morph its surroundings into an entirely different environment that the viewer can often enter. The artist develops her inspiration from vast landscape and cathedral ceilings, both of which are apparent as her immense artwork adds a dramatic vastness to the space it inhabits. These cave-like installations are a wonderful way to make stunning use of salvaged material!