When looking at the photographs of Sarah Palmer you can’t help but notice the playfulness with light and colors. I find her body of work from the series, “The Riddle of Lumen”, quite interesting, and although clearly documenting an urban landscape, I also find it quite mystical. As if unfolding an urban exploration of a city, or finding a hidden gem in plain view. At least when I look at her work, it almost seems to portray and unidentifiable sentimentalism of the unknown urban setting depicted. It plays quite well with the colors and spacial composition in the photographs.
In artist Eleanor Davies’ piece titled Over 200 Beautiful Colors, she crafts a traditional yarn pom pom (like something you’d see on a beanie), but on steroids. Using wool, newspaper, and rope, Davies wraps donut-shaped discs with yarn and stacks them on top of one another. They become a mountain of wound wool, and finally she cuts the edges of every disc. This releases the fibers around the cardboard, and they form a larger-than-life ball of fringe.
The result of this tedious effort is something that you want to touch and maybe even hug. And, that’s Davies’ intention. She wants the viewer to desire an interaction with it. But, at the same time, she also wants to you to feel some sort of repulsion to it. Even though it’s a magnificent and incredible piece, you compare it to what other smaller, more perky-looking pom poms look like. This, in all its glory, droops as gravity has got the best of it. “The oscillation between attraction and repulsion is experienced through the disruption of taste values,” Davies writes in an artist statement. “Sculptures seek attention and flaunt themselves in such a way that they ask for it.”
The slow and meticulous construction of Over 200 Beautiful Colors is akin to a beautiful regime. Davies goes on to say:
In appropriating the sculpting techniques of hairdressing; extensions and highlights are added to slowly modify and enhance a sculpture’s look. The compulsive desire to reconfigure, reinvent, re-cut and re-colour is due to the satisfaction gained through succumbing to the lure of the surface. The process of overworking the sculptural surface is self indulgent and my practice embraces and revels in this.
Nicola Samorì makes seductive, profound paintings by layering and fusing images on canvas, wood or copper and then obliterating them by scratching, erasing, fingering and painting over the surfaces multiple times. By violating the golden rule of all museums (“Please do not touch the artwork.”) Samorìis making art history by corrupting his own work and imposing a new Samorì on top. The resulting layers of paint create a new skin that bears the bruises and permanent marks of all prior creative efforts.
Selecting portraits and still life’s from classical paintings but also sourcing random faces and images from the Web, Samorì is engaged in a project about time and corrosion.
Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Pride, and Envy have been explored—and challenged—for centuries by artists, scholars, and writers. In this issue of Beautiful/Decay, you’ll find artists who explore these themes through a contemporary lens, either by explicitly calling out those deemed guilty of committing one of the Seven Deadly Sins, or by turning the sweeping notion of sin right on its head.
James Gobel tackles Pride through felt portraits of colorfully clad, sexually charged, plus-size bears, and continuing the exploration of Lust, we have the raw and lascivious Polaroids of Jeremy Kost. View Tom Littleson’s bloody portraiture drawings and their relationship with Wrath. See how cover artists Tim Noble & Sue Webster’s adept use of personified garbage channels Gluttony. Libby Black’s paint-and-paper sculptures replicate Envy-inducing luxury brand goods, while paintings and drawings from Brendan Danielsson address the social and physical epidemic of Sloth. Finally, Greed lies at the center of Ghost of a Dream’s hypnotic sculptural art and immersive installations. We’ve also invited international artists, illustrators, and designers to create original pieces for our Project Pages based on all seven sins.
Other featured artists: Carolyn Janssen, Okay Mountain, Colette Robbins, Cleon Peterson, Micah Ganske, Zoe Charlton, Penelope Gottlieb, Paul Mullins, Keith Puccinelli, Travis Somerville, Kara Maria, Aideen Barry, Travis Collinson, Geoffrey Chasedy, John Knuth.
Each copy of Beautiful/Decay: The Seven Deadly Sins comes blind packed with either a zine by Terence Hannum or Heather Benjamin or a limited edition silk screen print by Paul Nudd!
Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven are a Ukrainian photography duo also known as Synchrodogs whose surreal imagery frames the human body in odd-yet-intimate relations with the surrounding landscapes. This particular series, Reverie Sleep, takes this theme of the “strange natural” a bit further, drawing on the expansive and unearthly realms of lucid dreams. Made with the support of the Pinchuk Art Foundation in 2013, this project emerged from visions the artists experienced while wandering somewhere between sleep and awakening:
“[Reverie Sleep] deals with the stage of Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by [the] natural process of falling asleep. Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, [Synchrodogs] woke themselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what they had just seen, gathering their dreams to be staged afterwards.” (Source)
In order to recreate their dream imagery, Synchrodogs traveled to Iceland where they immersed themselves in dangerous and bleakly beautiful environments. As they explained in an interview with NYMag, they shot near “glaciers where you can fall into an ice hole and be found in a week, or in hot lakes where you can get boiled alive if there is a geyser which decides to eject hot water while you are in [it]” (Source). This earthly threat lends the images an impassive quality, just like the intangible lands we explore in our sleep while uncertain of what threats or joys await us.
Inhabiting Synchrodogs’ eerily sublime landscapes are female figures, nude or bedecked in colorful paints and surreal costumes. Bodies morph into ferns and fruit, or lie on cold earth and exalt in the light of an alien sun. Each figure is simultaneously human and inhuman, existing in a hallucinogenic, unquestioning state that dissolves and realigns our notions of reality. Shifting between forms and consciousness, they represent creatures of a limitless and symbolic universe.
There’s a dog in every one of these photographs. Do you see it? Based on a famous game, Andrew Knapp and his border collie Momo find a variety of places to play hide and seek. Urban areas, grassy parks, graffitied walls and rocky terrain are just some of where you can spot Momo (or at least try). Knapp and his furry friend play this ongoing game called Find Momo with the fans of their blog around the world.
This light-hearted and amusing series is reminiscent of the Where’s Waldo books that many of us enjoyed as kids. Momo is good at hiding, and it’s genuinely difficult to spot him in some of these photographs. Further adding to the feeling of nostalgia, Knapp applies a vintage filter to his images, and they look like they are memories of another time.
If you didn’t know the premise behind them, you can still enjoy these images for the quirky American landscapes that they are. (Via DeMilked)
Tucked away in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert is a tiny pool whose location is unknown to the public, identifiable only by guarded GPS coordinates. It was imagined by Austrian artist Alfredo Barsuglia, and is technically open to the public. If you want to swim in it, all you need to do is ask the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood about the longitude and latitude points and obtain the special key to open the pool’s cover.
The four-foot by 12-foot body of water is available for 24 hours to any one person or small party, and you must bring a gallon of water per person to replenish the pool. Its minimalist stylings are painted white and stands out against the sandy and arid terrain. Alone in the desert, it’s an oasis for a weary traveler or nomad. Barsuglia calls it Social Pool, and meant for the swimmer to consider the societal ramifications of this outdoor installation. A description of the project reads:
The work embodies the massive socio-economic changes that have taken place in the last forty years. It thus understands itself as the product of an economy in which privacy and immateriality have been fully commodified… For many a consumer, art is expected to operate according to the principles of the service economy rather than following humanist ideals of intellectual or moral stimulus and education.
Whether or not this pool encourages this deep thought or is simply a well-thought gimmick remains to be seen. (Via Huffington Post)
David Cristobal creates portraits of people with skin like wood texture. The wood knots and grain form to the shapes of the different faces and create these kind of human tree spirits. I’m reminded of some kind of modern day lord of the rings tree incarnations. It’s impressive how well Cristobal can combine the texture of the wood and relates it to the shape of the face.
The portrait I’m most drawn to is where there is a large hole in the wood where the eyes would be. In the majority of the portraits, the face is left wholly intact and the wood is more of a veneer. In this portrait, it seems to engage more with the form of the face, and you imagine it more as a sculptural element. This happens again with the women who is missing almost the entire left half of her face, but it’s most successful with the eye-less man. Perhaps this is because eyes are the most revealing element of a face, and the gap reveals the inner depths of the head, whereas with the woman it seems more as if a piece of her face has simply been removed.
The woman with large dark eyes whose head ends like an open tree stump is also exceptionally compelling. Obviously because of her eyes, but I believe also because once again an essential element of a complete head, this time the hair, is gone. Excluding an entire element seems preferable to me than excluding an arbitrary portion of the face. The portraits are a lovely combination of nature and humanity, especially when Cristobal finds good balance between the two. (Via Scene 360)