Opening tomorrow, September 27, is Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition @Large in the former San Francisco Bay prison, Alcatraz Island. The sculpture, sound, and mixed media installations are staged in four locations throughout the space: the New Industries Building; a group of cells in A Block; the Hospital; and the Dining Hall. Ai’s work inside creates a dialogue about how we define liberty, justice, and individual rights.
In 2011, Ai was secretly detained by Chinese authorities for 81 days, and is still not permitted to travel outside of the country. He was unable to visit Alcatraz during the planning of the show and was developed in his studio with the help of the FOR-SITE Foundation.
There are a variety of pieces in @Large, including Trace, which is 176 portraits of political prisoners and exiles made from LEGO blocks. The impressive works began at Ai’s studio in Beijing and were completed in San Francisco by a team of 90 volunteers. Cheryl Haines, the exhibition’s curator told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m overwhelmed by how remarkable it looks. This is the face of the individual in the fight for freedom, but it’s also a collective statement and to see the density and quantity of people that are incorporated in this work, I find deeply moving.”
In addition to Trace, there are six other themes: With Wind, a giant traditional Chinese dragon kite; Refraction, stunning metal wings; Stay Tuned, sound installation that occupies 12 cells; Illumination, the sounds of Tibetan Buddhist and Native American chants; Blossom, fragile floral bouquets; and Yours Truly, where visitors can write postcards to prisoners. (Via FOR-SITE and Artnet)
Polish photographer Pola Esther takes us behind the scenes of the concert film of the K-Pop world’s hottest band, Big Bang. Although the South Korean band’s five infamous members star in this film, Esther has turned an eye onto the bad girls that steal the show. The unforgettable women in the film include Gia Genevieve, Stephanie Shiu, TK, and Briana Michelle, and cameo appearance of James Goldstein. The photographer gives us a glimpse behind the scenes us of the powerhouse characters on set.
The creators of the film, Dikayl Rimmasch and Ed Burke, have had their hand in cinematic music videos before. They also collaborated on Jay-Z and Beyonce’s film “Bang Bang” featured during “On the Run” tour which has a similar film noir feel as the Big Bang’s film. The film’s unmistakable style pulls inspiration from American mythology. This incredibly dramatic film portrays the group in high-speed car chases, like that of the Fast and the Furious, and Tarantino-like scenes similar to Reservoir Dogs that are full of high tension. Esther, now based in New York City, has a photographic style that fits together perfectly with the seductive qualities of the film directors’ approach. Her work takes us one step deeper, showing us a little of whom these bad girls are in the film. Each photograph holds a sense of classic mystery, with the flair of old Hollywood. Make sure to check out more of Esther’s captivating and sensual photographs on her website.
In her series, Impressions, Scout Paré-Phillips’ uses flesh as her medium by photographing the imprints left from inviting undergarments. Through an almost monochrome, yet warm and familiar palette, her photographs are simultaneously quiet, yet demanding. At first glance, the images seem to display an act of seduction; they document marks of ghost articles of clothing worn for, most likely, the purpose of creating allure. However, with further reflection, the work runs deeper, having a softer, more reflective meaning. These impressions, are, perhaps, the physical representation of emotional indentations, or the struggle of vulnerability versus dominance during the act of sex. The fragility of one’s skin cannot help but to mimic the fragility of one’s state of being. She displays slight imperfections on otherwise flawless, blank-canvas-reminiscent flesh. Impressions, the marks made on us over time, whether they be permanent or fleeting, are what make us the intricate beings that we are. The artist speaks of the work in terms of the skin of a lover. She states:
“Their skin is sacred; it is the most honest container for these people that we love, sharing with us the timelines of their lives through birthmarks, scars, blemishes, tattoos, wrinkles, bruises, and even the marks left behind daily from their clothing. It is what we covet in our lovers, and what we abuse for our pleasure.”
The photographer, musician and model, Scout Paré-Phillips, is quite prolific in her making. Her multidisciplinary body of work culminates in the foggy, slight margin that exists between innocence and cognizance. She has somehow found a niche outside the realm of binary and has created a theme that functions in paradox. Being quite young herself, the artist’s work can be explored through the lens of coming into an awakened adulthood. The work seems to be bound by the true intricacies of emotional falsities and the strange balance between darkness and light that is the essence of being human.
San Francisco-based artist and designer Wei Li is making tasty treats with unpalatable connotations. Would you lick a cactus? Suck on a virus? Would just the idea of it change your experience of a dessert? In “Dangerous Popscicle” Li makes desserts in the shape of cacti, MRSA, influenza, chicken pox, escherichia coli and HIV from just water, sugar and coloring. To make the popsicles, Li created a series of one and two part silicone molds modeled in Rhino and printed on an Objet 3d printer. She writes on her website bold or italic:
“What will happen when we put these dangerous things on one of our most sensitive organs, our tongues? Does pain really bring pleasure? Is there beauty in user-unfriendly things?
Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience. Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti are enough to stimulate your senses, even before your first taste.”
There are inherent contradictions in this project—the colors of the items look delicious, but the subject is unappetizing, but the surface is pleasingly tactile, but the structure is painful.
Aside from making the molds and freezing the pops, Li is also interested in the social interaction this project fosters. How do people react to the frozen unsavories? Try it yourself—find directions on how to make this project at Instructables. (via The Creator’s Project)
After only a month and a half Beautiful/Decay:Future Perfect book is officially sold out. This book, as with all Beautiful/Decay books, will never be reprinted in its entirety turning into a limited edition collectible that will be passed down from artist to artist as the ultimate source of inspiration. If you didn’t get a copy of the book you have one final chance to get one of the highly coveted 1,500 copies. We have 10 copies reserved strictly for subscribers on a first come, first serve basis. Simply subscribe as soon as you read this and during checkout ask that we start your subscription with Beautiful/Decay:Future Perfect and you might just get one the very last copies available. We can’t guarantee that you’ll be one of the lucky ten but those that miss out will start their subscription with Beautiful/Decay Book 7!
Elisabeth Lecourt is a multidisciplinary artist who lives and works in London. Her newest body of work is entitled Les robes geographiques in which delicate dresses are constructed out of antique maps. In her own words the series acts as “a portrait of people through their clothes, like a blue-print of their soul.” Her bio explains the importance of the female figure in her art: “Sensitivity and vulnerability are the main subjects in the work of the artist…the feminine figure is seen like the spine of her house, like an essential component of this particular world.” (via)