I know, I know, this is a bit cheesy. But try to look past the terrible music, the Yanni style haircut, and even the cheesy artwork. What I’m into is the technique. I challenge you, loyal Cult Of Decay members to use this painting technique to make something amazing. Watch the full video after the jump, turn off the computer and get going!
Marni Kotak is off her meds. At least, she’s aiming for that. Prescribed a potent mixture of psychotropic medications in 2012 for her port-partum depression, Kotak’s latest work of performance art, “Marni Kotak: Mad Meds,” features her attempt to wean herself off medication.
Kotak’s 2011 work, “The Birth of Baby X,” was the literal progenitor of “Mad Meds,” culminating in the birth of Kotak’s son Ajax in front of an audience in the gallery space. This controversial exhibition was meant to “convey the authentic experience of [her] life as it is being lived, simultaneously engaging with audience members who become active participants in the actual events unfolding,” Kotak says. “The Birth of Baby X” was followed up by “Raising Baby X” (2011-ongoing), “Postpartum Depression” (2012), “Raising Baby X: The First Year” (2012), “Ajax’s First Birthday Party” (2012), “Raising Baby X: Playtime!” (2013), “Raising Baby X: Family Jam Session” (2013), and “Raising Baby X: Little Brother” (2012-ongoing). Is involving her son in her performances from literally the moment of his birth exploitive? What will it be like for Ajax when he’s old enough to realize that his childhood has been a public spectacle in the name of art?
“Mad Meds” does not involve other people in the performance, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not without its own complex issues.
The 6-week durational performance exhibition and installation finds Kotak addressing her personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry as she attempts to withdraw from psychiatric medicines prescribed as follow-up treatment for post-partum depression more than two and a half years ago. (Source)
Depression can be agonizing; depression after childbirth can be especially isolating in its opposition to the socially acceptable construct of happy new mommy. Of course, Kotak is completely within her rights to wean herself from her medications if she feels that they’re not working correctly, or if the side-effects have become too overwhelming, or if she just wants to. Naming the 10-foot trophy in the work “Med-free and Happy,” though, has implications about psych meds and depression that go far beyond her performance. If Marni Kotak is able to publicly stop taking psychiatric medication as a work of art, that would be a personal act that she has chosen to share, as she did the literal moment of her son’s birth. If Marni Kotak is using her art to suggest that it is some kind of achievement to stop taking meds, the many, many people who are thankful every day that they are functioning and whole and able to live their lives because of the medication they take may have a different point of view.
As the famous designer Miuccia Prada once said, “fashion is instant language” — if worn with intention, fashion can allow us to express our inner identities without having to say a word. But what if our clothing was so in tune with our emotional lives that it responded physically to external stimuli — like the approach of another person? Anouk Wipprecht, a Dutch designer known for her explorations at the intersections of fashion and technology, has created an animatronic dress that does just that. Named the “Spider Dress 2.0” (an updated version of the original Spider Dress), this curious tech-garment embraces the torso in a spider-like carapace, while eight spindly legs shift from the shoulders. Eerie and enchanting, this specially-engineered dress should be approached with caution and consent, as Hep Svadja explains for Make:
“[The] Spider Dress 2.0 […] is a mechatronic dress with an Intel Edison chip that uses biosignals and learned threat detection to defend the wearer’s personal space. Mechanical arms extend and retract as a response to external stimuli, making it a truly intuitive system. As people approach, the wearer’s own breath will help to signal the defense posture of the robotic arms. The speed of the approach will also feed into defensive behavior; approach quickly and the arms will aggressively posture, but approach in a leisurely fashion and the arms will gently greet you.” (Source)
Wipprecht is known for her other cutting-edge designs, such as a dress that allows you to vanish in a smoke screen, and another that becomes transparent as one’s heartbeat increases (such as during intimate, interpersonal encounters). The Spider Dress 2.0 is her newest (upgraded) creation, unique in its mimicry of animal behaviour, and infused with the power to visually display deep-set emotions and experiences without a reliance on verbal cues. Words, after all, are typically put through a mental filter before they come out of our mouths; the Spider Dress communicates directly from the body via internal biosignals. It interprets and visualizes inner phenomena that may not be immediately known to the wearer. In this way, Wipprecht’s work imagines a future wherein fashion could be used to physically extend the expressive capacities of human body language.
Michelle Morin’s works are beautifully detailed natural scenes depicting flora and fauna. Each of her pieces is full of painted texture, and puts an earthy calm spin on classical animal paintings. As a once professional gardener, she has a unique insight into her subject matter. I think it makes all the difference, don’t you?
Artist Chris Maynard creates tiny ethereal designs on feathers. His process begins by collecting feathers of birds (usually not of North America descent) from aviaries and zoos. He uses delicate, detail oriented tools such as eye surgery scissors, forceps, and magnifying glasses that have been passed down to him through his family. With these tools, he is able to achieve intimate levels of detail, crafting miniaturized fantastical avian worlds. His uses his work to transform the ordinary into something surreal and perhaps a bit magical. He explains that he would like the viewer
“to take away being able to look at the world in a different way…I want people to be able to take a breath and look at something a little differently, something that they know. Feathers are a universal symbol. Feathers for different people will mean different things, but generally, it means flight, it can mean escape, something we want to strive for, a bridge between here and the heavens. I want people to take their own message from it, but I think what comes out are some of those themes.”
The original integrity of the feathers is important to the artist. He does not manipulate the color or over arching shape with the aim to “honor the birds and the feathers.” Maynard, having a strong background in biology and ecology, has published a book titled Feathers: Form & Function. He uses his work not only to express artistic notions but also explains origin and function of his material. Each work is intricate, delicate, and whimsical.