Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”
With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.” This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.
When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”
As a musician myself I am always fascinated by the intersection between visual art and music. Jim Lambie is a musician who played in the Glasgow band Teenage Fanclub, and was also shortlisted for the Turner prize. His colorful installations often reappropriate pop cultural items in fresh ways. In this video he discusses his installation “Zobop,” which used vinyl tape on the floorspace of the Tate, to reveal the idiosyncrasies in the architecture in a dazzling floor display. Check out the Bay City Rollers album in his studio!
Juan Travieso‘s work is a sort of contemporary nature painting. His paintings of monkeys, bears, birds, seem to be falling apart into garbled digital information. Travieso appears to be capturing the animals a moment before they degenerate into unintelligible pixels of color. This could reflect an environment that is falling apart despite (or perhaps because of) constant technological progress. Travieso captures a sense of urgency in the paintings, an irretrievable moment soon to pass.
French photographer Benjamin Bechet’s series “Je suis Winnie l’Ourson” explores the marginal side of life where illegal workers, the homeless, the poor, and the transient are replaced by pop culture icons such as Batman and Disney characters. (via gaks)
Chicago artist Nick Cave’s outlandish “soundsuits” have enough awesome going on standing still, but these intricate assemblages are also performance costumes. Grab a copy of Beautiful/Decay Book 4 for a sprawling feature on Cave with tons more (giant, gorgeous) images and an interview in which he discusses his recent exhibition at the Fowler museum, his process creating the suits, and his desire for art to be a joyous community-wide experience.