The work of South African artist Mary Sibande is complex much like the identities it addresses. Sibande creates life size sculptures, primarily of black women. The sculptures are arrayed in large ornate dresses which, rather than shed light on the subject’s identity, complicate it. The dresses seem to be a perfect blend of Victorian upper class and a maid’s uniform. Sibande’s grand installations efficiently comment on gender, class, colonialism, and beauty. To further underscore these issues, Sibande arranged for huge photographic murals of the installations to be displayed throughout Johannesburg.
Beautiful/Decay teamed up with By Osmosis TV to create a unique video artist profile on Robbie Conal. Conal’s searing political caricatures fuse iconography and symbols from pop culture, current media and his own imagination. We are frequent collaborators with Robbie- most recently he contributed a beautiful skeleton-dance glitter painting to our current retrospective show, “Beautiful/Decay: A to Z.” You can see Robbie working on the piece in his studio in the video– as well as discussing his artwork and philosophy! We’re thrilled to be working with By Osmosis on a number of upcoming projects, including another artist profile, as well as a piece on the history of Beautiful/Decay magazine. If you’re unfamiliar with By Osmosis, they are a boutique production company, specializing in profiling innovative creatives.
Melbourne based artist Casey Jenkins is a self-described “craftivist” who founded Craft Cartel, an organization that seeks to combine crafting and political activism, in 2007. “Craft imbues you with power because you’re forced to contemplate the issue you’re addressing. It’s very reflective in a sense of when you put that message out into the world, people know you must really care because you’ve devoted that much time to it,” Jenkins says.
Jenkins’ most recent performance project, “Casting Off My Womb” (Aussie TV calls it “Vaginal Knitting”) involves the artist spending 28 days (the average length of a menstrual cycle) knitting from a new skein of wool that she has placed inside of her vagina each day. Jenkins explains that her performance would not be a performance if she didn’t include menstruation. While she is menstruating, Jenkins says it becomes more difficult to knit because the wool is wet, and she has to tug on the thread a bit harder. Overall, though, she claims the process is slightly uncomfortable, but can also be arousing at times. For Jenkins, she enjoys that her performance associates the vulva – something that can be found offensive or vulgar or invoke a level of fear – with the comfort and warmth that knitting provides and evokes.
“The fact that [cunt’s] considered the most offensive word in the English language is a real marker of the time that we’re living and of the society’s attitude towards woman. There’s nothing possibly negative about it. It’s just a deep, warm and delightful part of the female anatomy.”
As Gawker notes, this performance is reminiscent of other feminist performance pieces like Yoko Ono’s “Cut Piece,” Carolee Schneeman’s “Internal Scroll,” or even Mary Kelly’s pre- and post-partum documents, so Jenkins is not necessarily a trailblazer in the context of this aesthetic; however, that fact that pieces like this still shock and provoke viewers means that there is still much work to be done in the movement to empower women and destigmatize female anatomy. (via gawker and broadsheet)
Berta Fischer is a Berlin-based artist. Her sculptures and installations feel as though they’re sophisticated set decorations for a play that takes place under the sea. Her colorful sculptures interact with their surrounding architecture, transforming a space into an otherworldly local.
Despite the use of materials that are mainly synthetic, such as PVC and acrylic glass, Fischer’s works maintain an organic quality. This dialogue between the natural and the artificial generates an appearance that has a fragility and a tension to it. Drawing a viewer’s attention the effects seem to be alive or moving.
Mitra Fabian lives and works in Los Angeles. Like Fischer, she is also interested in transforming atypical materials into organic, unearthly shapes and forms that seem to come to life as you look at them. Interested in mimicking the appearance of tumors, magnified cells or mold Fabian strives for an effect that plays tricks on the eye. Fabian explains, “My artwork is a reflection of local human industry. I am a sculptor and installation artist working almost exclusively with manufactured materials- the leftovers, the by products, the remnants of human activity. My material use serves as a commentary on the increasingly modified condition of humans, which pits nature against culture and blurs the line between organic and manufactured.”
Both of these artists are interested in transforming the manmade into something that appears to be organic. The effects allow a viewer to reflect upon our increasingly artificial surroundings and to appreciate the beauty and intricacy of our natural environment.
Michelle Hinebrook’s paintings bring together op-art, hard edge painting, geometric patterns, and psychedelic imagery to create explosive and densely layered abstractions.
A tragic love story interpreted and represented in real life. Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze has created in real life the two characters who, despite their love, cannot be together. The sculptures are made out of metallic discs and are moving daily, embracing each other and parting in different ways.
Tamara Kvesitadze’s ‘Man and Woman’ installation depicts Ali, a Muslim boy and Nino, a Christian Georgian princess. It’s a symbolic representation of the Soviet Russia invasion which forces the two lovers to separate and leave for opposed directions. This tale is inspired by a novel by Azerbaijani author, Kurban Said.
The sculptures are 8 meters (26 foot) tall and are moving every day at 7pm for 10 minutes in the seaside city of Batumi in Georgia. If we look at the video above, we notice that as the sculptures move the metallic discs fit together and the bodies merge. The purpose behind this installation is to illustrate how elements, within a world where everything and anything is moving, can be synchronized and create attraction. (via Juxtapoz)
Artist Jennifer Presant is a painter with training in figurative realism and a background in graphic design. Her multifaceted works are a combination of indoor and outdoor spaces. Bedrooms look like they’re in a park, statues are on beaches, and French doors open onto ice. “Thematically, my paintings address the complexity of memory, by blurring the lines between recollection, projection, and reality,” Presant writes in an artist statement. “Each painting becomes a psychological landscape or waking dream, reinforcing the fluid relationships between time, memory and place.”
The contemporary media has a huge impact on the content of Presant’s images. She says:
By merging both real and fictitious images in these painted fictional documentaries, I explore the conflation of our media-saturated lives and our lived reality; we live among images and in many ways as images. Our memories of events have become distorted. With media today, we have grown accustomed to watching ourselves and living from a voyeuristic standpoint. With these paintings, the viewer’s imagination plays an important role in the piece, while also being implicated in the voyeurism depicted. (Via Feather of Me)