In her project “City of the Dead”, Iraqi-Canadian photojournalist Tamara Abdul Hadi documents the lives of families living in the cemetery of Bab al-Nasr in Cairo. For the past 60 years, generations have been residing in this modern day necropolis among their deceased ancestors. Children were born and raised in the ruins of the graveyard, they attend schools nearby and even work in the area.
“This is a cemetery of the living”, says one of the residents, Mohammed Abdel Lateef.
Such illegal settlements as the City of the Dead, date back to the 1980’s. They were a primary coping method for local poor and “ultra-poor” inhabitants. Despite unsanitary conditions with no electricity or running water, workers were moving to the urban slums in order to stay close to employment. Overall, there are five main cemeteries like Bab al-Nasr and the whole area was said to have a population density of a whopping 12,000 inhabitants per square mile.
Abdul Hadi is already widely known for her documentary photographs of the Middle East, giving us a close-up look at their controversial culture and society. She states that the Arab world faces many misconceptions, such as oppressing patriarchy, ignorance and others. In her work, Abdul Hadi tends to bring up the softer and peaceful side of the communities which is rarely shown by the mass media. (h/t Middle East Revisited and The New School)
Collage artist Maksim Hem aptly titled this quiet series of works “Untitled Colours.” The name lends itself to the idea of objects overlooked, because they don’t scream and shout to get your attention. Hem’s restraint does not imply a lack of feeling but rather an attention to detail that is unnecessary to decorate. It’s like watching the Discovery Channel over Bravo–the life and times of baby cheetahs are just such a welcome change of pace.
Kazuki Guzmán‘s unique heritage (he has a Chilean father and a Japanese mother) informs the playful and fluid approach to his work. Guzmán’s creations range from toothpaste (!), nutshell, pencil, and gum sculptures to embroidered bananas and meat. For Guzmán, the essence of play is fundamental to the outcome of his work. “I equally enjoy allowing my materials to define the context of my artwork, and conversely, the challenge of letting the context of my work dictate the material execution. Most of my inspirations arise from mundane events… Most importantly, I strive for intricacy and exquisite craftsmanship in my work, while focusing on not losing my very whimsical sense of humor and play.” Guzmán lives in Chicago.
Though it might look like any other Polish chapel from the outside, the Kaplica Czaszek chapel sets itself apart: behind a humble pair of wooden doors, it contains the bones of thousands. After visiting shallow grave sites commemorating the fallen soldiers and civilians killed in the Silesian Wars, the Thirty Years’ War, plagues, and cholera, a local priest named Vaclav Tomasek collected and cleaned skeletal remains, embedding them in the chapel walls.
Constructed between 1776 and 1804, the building’s architecture stunningly deconstructs the human skeleton; skulls and leg bones are meticulously arranged over the ceilings and walls, while other bones are hidden behind a trapdoor and kept in a crypt. The repetitive patterns that emerge from a single human bone laid out a thousand times over serves to remind us of our connectedness; while each individual femur or cranium stands in for a deceased individual, it takes on a deeper, more universal meaning as part of this expertly-constructed whole.
Within this celebration of oneness, Tomasek set apart strange and unusual bones, placing them on the church altar. Alongside the skull of a mayor and the chapel founder, sits a skull morphed by syphilis, one of a rumored giant, and a few penetrated by bullets. In this way, the structure daringly elevates the macabre—and those who suffered from uncommon maladies—to the spiritual level of relics left behind by local religious and political leaders.
Within the context of the church and its representations of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, the remains offer a potent juxtaposition between the spiritual and the corporeal. Visitors cannot escape this powerful reminder of mortality, but if they so wish, they are poignantly invited to consider the possibility of salvation and eternal life. (via Lost at E Minor and Smithsonian Magazine)
Hey everyone. Ryan Travis Christian here. Amir asked if would share my ongoing “artist of the day” facebook thing with you all. I was like “yeah, let’s do it”. OK….
This is the work of Joseph Hart. Not only is this handsome young New Yorker a master of medium and composition, but a force of nature and a gnarly dancer too. Check out his most recent exhibition, STAGECRAFT @ David Krut Projects. Up till’ January 30th.
Alberto Guedea Zamora is a multi-disciplinary artist from Toronto, Canada. Abstract in every sense of the definition, his presence lacks a concrete existence in his own work- often posing with his face covered by a tangle of hair or his body colored by some bright paper. He become a ghost, keeps distance and remains impersonal. You can see a longer in depth interview with him and the full text I’ve paraphrased at Things of Desire (“Canada’s Alternative Art Weekly”).
New York-based artist Kim Keever creates these abstract compositions by experimenting with colorful tinted paints and water. As a former thermal engineer for NASA projects, Keever tends to veer his work towards the scientific and experimental.
The beautiful, luscious and colorful forms are produced by the mixing and mingling of various amounts of color drops into water; as part of the process, the scientist-turned-artist documents the swirling liquids in hopes that something visually stunning happens in the midst of the experiment. Keever uses an enormous 200-gallon fish tank as the setting for much of his work; it, offers plenty of space and possibility for these stunning and unpredictable reactions to emerge.
These abstract formations are similar to Kevin Cooley’s Controlled Burns, a series of images that also explores the formations and movements of organic materials; although in his case the artist experiments with smoke and fire- which primarily leaves us with more natural color palette. While filled with bright, artificial hues, Keever’s creations still evoke images of breathtaking natural phenomena and earthy material (i.e quartz gemstones, stones, precious mineral stones, ocean tides,etc). (via My Modern Met)