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The Strange World Of A Dwarf Theme Park In China

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After stumbling across a photograph on the internet depicting people posed in a dwarf theme park, Belgian photographer Sanne De Wilde conducted a little research and discovered that the Dwarf Empire, or Kingdom of the Little People, is a real theme park that operates in the Yunnan province of China. In this park, dwarfs provide entertainment – singing, dancing, and various other forms of amusement – for tourists who visit the park. De Wilde eventually contacted the park’s manager and was invited to take photographs of the park and its 77 little people for a project she calls “The Dwarf Empire.” As soon as she arrived, she immediately felt compelled to consider questions regarding the morality of the park’s existence, namely if the workers were happy there, or if they felt more like they were being put on display and exploited. Additionally, “For me, it’s about how this kind of place can exist,” De Wilde says. “What does it tell you about a person who starts this and creates it? What are his intentions?” Founded by a tall, rich man who wanted to “do something good” for the little people, this park is a “Chinese charity dressed in commercial attire.” Much of the park appears run-down, but seems to have a solid foundation.

While she partook in the project of documenting the park, De Wilde, a tall blonde woman, found that she stood out in the park – for the tourists, she became a character in the show created at the park, something she found exhausting. She would even hide with the little people “to be free of the claws of the tourists…they want to touch you and have a part of you.” After she got home, De Wilde spent about a year culling through her images; during this time, she even received letters from some of the people claiming they’re happy and thankful to be working at the park, something that De Wilde viewed as a bit suspect.

From her statement, De Wilde writes,

 

“I embarked on an adventure with a handful of ethical questions about commercializing social care. Every story has two sides but in this place every question and every answer seemed contradictory. My adventure ended up as a modern anti-fairytale, a collection of images of my making, and theirs. My own trick forced upon myself.” (via lens culture and slate)

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Painted Satellite Dishes In Rural Central America Become Billboard Spaces For Local Housewives

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There’s a change happening in a small, rural community in Costa Rica. Latin American satellite company Claro has joined forces with local artists to help housewives advertise and grow their own businesses. In a place where few luxury items can be afforded, every household is certain to have a TV – and also an accompanying satellite dish. So, with the help of creative agency ‘Ogilvy & Mather Costa Rica’, Claro have come up with idea of how to better utilize those dishes for the local residents.

Painted with as many different logos and themes as you can think of, the bright, folksy designs are grabbing all the right kinds of attention. Now, instead of having to rely on word of mouth, or neighbors stopping by occasionally, the women can advertise their goods and services much easier – and to more people. The charming designs advertise making tortillas, ice cream, piñatas, selling flowers, strawberries, eggs, or offering sewing alterations, or haircuts. Now, not only are the women attracting more customers, they are also empowered to think bigger, and to perhaps change their own financial destiny. (Via Lost At E Minor)

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Provocative Photographs Address Systemic And Institutional Child Abuse

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Erik Ravelo‘s photo series Los Intocables, or The Untouchables, captures children pinned up crucifixion style against the backs of adult authority figures. “The Right to Childhood Should Be Protected” subheads the title of this provocative series that addresses the responsibility of adult figures with regard to the harming of children in various contexts. Ravelo places the children at the forefront of issues such as military occupation, tourism, healthcare, religion, and school violence, asking viewers to consider the potential for abuse within these issues and institutions. More photos and a short video after the jump.

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Painter Philip Hinge Tests The Meaning Of ‘Bad Taste’

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Full of expressive, wild colorful brushstrokes and heavy layering and textures, Philip Hinge puts on a show of his playful sense of humor and confidence. Intentionally flirting with the line between ‘good art’ and ‘bad art’ in his exhibition Don’t Look Now, he approaches his subjects with a unique sensibility. Hinge paints anything from blow up dog balloons, to rock stars dressed in bridal gowns, to mermen sunbathing and boys greedily stuffing their faces with spaghetti. Choosing banal subjects and turning them into something special and surprising is his talent.

Contextual ambiguity abounds in Hinge’s work, allowing his paintings to express a subtle anxiety that is felt rather than seen. At the same time, by ironically appropriating sources as diverse as everyday kitsch, science fiction, and the canons of art history, Hinge lampoons widely-accepted tropes of high art. (Source)

Hinge manages to break down some of the traditional and existing boundaries within the painting (and greater art) world. And while his technique and style may seem primitive, his subject matter adds a subtle layer of complexity to his work. His past series include I Am The Black Wizards – an amusing look at the death metal community and the stereotypes that go with it. He has rockers stabbed with knives, swords and clubs, gripping their legs in pain, and tough guys wearing witches hats and capes, pinned to a wire fence. His light-hearted approach to certain social taboos is a refreshing thing to see.

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Tomasso Sartori’s Dark, Majestic Landscape Photographs

 

Organic life is almost completely absent from Tomasso Sartori’s photographs. Instead, we’re left with sparse, apocalyptic images washed in glaring red and stifling shadow. The people-less landscapes remain defiantly intact, as if to say “we existed before you, and we’ll keep going long after you’re gone”. A nice reminder of the strength and majesty of our natural surroundings. Too often, we lapse into a flawed impression that we are the most important force in the world. Sartori’s pictures correct that mistake pretty quickly. (via)

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Spencer Keeton Cunningham’s Illustration And Street Art Recontextualizes Rez Life

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The scale and color density of artist Spencer Keeton Cunningham‘s work makes it almost impossible to ignore—but it’s the poignant, painful subject matter that makes his work difficult to forget. By pushing around the overly romanticized notion of North American Indian culture as a series of icons, sketches or markers, Cunningham is able to speak to the viewer through short, graphic strokes that hit hard. He’s interested in presenting his own take on the demonization of tribal people in American culture.

Being 1/4th Colville from the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (which consists of 12 different tribes: The Colville, The Entiat, the Nespelem, the Okanogan, The Arrow Lake, The Methow, The San Poil, The Chelan, The Moses Columbia, the Palus, the Nez perce, and the Wenatchee), Cunningham is able to make assertions with his work that relates to his unique position and perspective in this world.

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Maija Luutonen, photography hide-and-seek

 

Please let's pretend, color photographs, 2006-2008

"Please let's pretend", color photographs, 2006-2008

I think I have a thing for photographs like Maija Luutonen’s lately and maybe that’s a reflection of my own need for indulgent escapism? I don’t know.

 

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Noa Raviv’s 3D-Printed Dresses Make Math Look Good

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Noa Raviv - 3D-Printed Dresses

Noa Raviv - Design

Noa Raviv - Design

Designer Noa Raviv‘s “Hard Copy” collection has been bending space-time as well as turning heads all over the fashion world. Raviv revs fashion up into high tech: She uses 3D printing technology to create the vectors, grids, and curved polygons that act as the centerpieces of her futuristic dresses.

At first glance, her collection looks like something Escher would come up with if he had gone into outer space — and learned to put the pedal to the metal on a sewing machine. Raviv’s 3D-printed dresses utilize negative space and evocative bold lines that abruptly end, a trajectory to nowhere. Some mark outlines around the stoic models, almost reminiscent of cut-out paper dolls.

If you were to describe Raviv’s designs as purely brainy, though, that wouldn’t be entirely correct either. Her pieces are mash-ups of the classical and the plugged-in modern, organic yet precisely calculated. The recurring hollow grid pattern seems to inevitably draw a comparison to wire frame mannequins, perhaps implying that the work is incomplete with the wearer, who — in this case — gazes archly from amidst blossoming toruses and geometric anemones.

According to Raviv, she wanted to explore “the tension between the real and the virtual, between 2D and 3D.” After having won the 2014 Finy Leitersdorf Prize for her creative efforts, it would seem that her experiment was certainly a triumph.

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