Through a series of provocative self-portraits rendered as paintings, photographs, and film, Andrea Mary Marshall examines the intersection of identity, female sexuality, and consumer culture in the context of the “ideal woman.”
“A Woman is a beast. She is as lovely as she is repulsive. She is one part demon and one part goddess…one part slave, one part muse…one part child and one part mother…these contradictions are what make a woman so intoxicating.” – Andrea Mary Marshall
Toxic Women is a narrative collection of work that looks at the implications of trying to live up to the cultural figment of the “ideal woman”. Through identity play that borders on performance, Marshall reinvents herself as highly developed characters meticulously crafted through the art of fashion, makeup, wigs, and props. For her series of “Vague Covers”, Marshall depicts the “toxic woman” as a dichotomy, born out of a pursuit of the ideal, simultaneously adored and rejected by society. There is the addict, the temptress, the woman with no boundaries, the self-saboteur, the perfectionist and the fame whore—archetypical toxic women Marshall has both encountered and embodied. Beginning with the “Vague Covers”, and carried out through the entire collection, the work explores the space where feelings for this toxic woman turn from infatuation to disgust, from attraction to repulsion. “We all have our demons. We can’t move into the light unless we’re willing to look at our darkness.” – Andrea Mary Marshall
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Darren Holmes is a photographer whose works explore the dichotomy between instinctual, “animal” life, and the rationalizing, “civilized” mind. Entitled animals being human, this series depicts nude (or nearly nude) paint-splattered men and women engaged in strange and frisky behaviors, such as crouching and crawling on the floor, burrowing in hay, and playing with cardboard props. Each image is abstract, elaborate, and tinged with humor, with a lot of “meaning” intentionally left to the imagination: what are they doing, and for what purpose? The confounding, playful absurdity is entirely Holmes’ intention, as he seeks to unravel our innate drives and behaviors from the constructions and constraints of intellect and social conditioning. As he explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay:
“To me, all of the things that unify us as really human are things beneath intellect, the guttural stuff like pain response, elation, pleasure, anguish, anger, the search for warmth and companionship, that kind of thing. They’re all concerns of the body, instinctive and what we associate with animal behaviour.
Then we have these clever, intellectual, analytical minds which maybe sit over top of it all, rationalizing, regulating us, attempting to moderate all the stuff underneath. There are probably good reasons we need to do this sometimes, to act civilly with each other. But in some ways, I think intellect becomes how we distract ourselves from facing some truths.”
What Holmes’ work signifies, then, is a playful deconstruction of the “human,” a species category which is so often defined in opposition to “animals”. In many cases, contemporary (and intellectualized) humanity has actively separated itself from earthly “filth” — mud, blood, excrement, and anything “messy” — in order to achieve a sense of species-based superiority. “I mean, we must be more enlightened than those that came before us … right?” Holmes writes, tongue-in-cheek. “Maybe we just want to believe certain things to avoid facing issues, like how little we’ve changed … that we’re just dirty, shitting, fucking, fighting primates, and how temporary we really are in this world.”
Given the delightfully absurd energy of Holmes’ photos, I enquired about his method, which he described as a “live performance”; each scene is a holistic accumulation of energy and creativity, involving “like-minded people who want to use their bodies to capture something that can only come from a sort of lengthy, improvised dance punctuated by exchanges [and] ideas.” The props are similarly spontaneous; mostly limited to “cardboard, canvas, wood, [and] paint,” the models indulge in a youthful approach to these objects, making the props imaginative and representational rather than over-intellectualized and “concrete” in their meaning. In this way, Holmes deconstructs adulthood as well, that phase in our lives when we are taught to overanalyze and constantly moderate and rationalize our behaviors.
Visit Holmes’ website and Facebook page and follow him as he explores physicality and the intimate, pre-intellectual connections that exist between all of us human animals. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Marcelo Monreal is a graphic designer and creative director based in Santa Catarina, Brazil. In a project titled Faces [UN] Bonded, Monreal opens up the faces of actors and models and fills them with flowers. Although some of them might be hard to identify from within the ferocious bloom, you’ll see the faces of Julianne Moore, Cara Delevingne, Christopher Walken, and more. By splitting the model’s/actor’s faces along the fine curvatures of their jaws and down the center, the artist accentuates their physical features. The flowers reveal a deeper, more internal vitality.
The idea for Faces [UN] Bonded comes from a very important memory for Marcelo: an insight passed down from his late mother. As he explains in this interview with Dettona, when his mother was dying, they worked in the garden together, and she told him “we are made of flowers” (Source). Marcelo now continues this understanding of human vulnerability and beauty by filling photos with floral arrangements. He seeks to “think, experiment create, recreate, learn, destroy, rebuild” in his work, encouraging all burgeoning artists to explore their potential in a similar, imperfect, and blossoming ways.
Ben Wheele is an artist and animator based in London who makes a variety of videos, animations, and sculptures dealing with surreal images and worlds that are extremely compelling but hard to describe. When asked about his work Ben says “If I were to speculate…I’d say my work is probably an attempt to find ‘Baroque pathos’ in unusual netherworlds, where logic has somehow receded. What remains is often gooey and emotional.” Watch the above videos and tell us what you think his works about! (via vvork)
Photographer Mark Tuschman’s book, Faces of Courage: Intimate Portraits of Women on the Edge, documents women living in high-risk living situations. He photographs moments that encourage an aura of strength, capturing the true resilience women have. Many of these women face potential life threatening situations on a daily basis, such as arranged child marriages, forced pregnancies, domestic violence, human trafficking, and the denial of education. These are situations that often lead to serious mental and physical health issues — most of which are treatable given access to the correct facilities. Tuschman has been able to work in collaboration with NGOs, foundations, and UN agencies with the hopes to help both educate and empower women. His work documents efforts of grassroots organizations providing basic medical care, recovery surgery from injuries caused by young pregnancies, HIV/AIDS treatment, and shelter ensuring safety. These organizations also offer mentoring and educational programs that help women to learn various skills such as family planning, sexual education, as well as skills to help become business owners and gain financial independence.
His photographs capture moments from three continents, spanning between seventeen countries including; India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos, Indonesia, Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador and Trinidad. Mark Tuschman has been an international photographer for over 35 years and has actively been an advocate of global health and human rights for women. His work has received various awards and has been featured during multiple international health conferences. He is hoping to raise additional funds through book sales in order to donate copies to high school libraries with the aim to “inspire a new generation of activists, and to motivate those already working toward equality, to continue empowering women and girls.”
I found Yujean Park’s images on our Creative Pic Pool. Her work caught my eye for their haunting stillness. Many feature tableauxs of seemingly vacant, or recently vacated domestic spaces that seem subtly concerned with their own transience…Even when there is a figure in the frame, they seem ghostlike….or is it just me?