Miran Kim has some interesting narrative paintings with a slight surreal bent.
Photographer David Emitt Adams‘ series Conversations with History captures images and time. Adams collected discarded cans from throughout the Arizona desert. The cans, eroded and reddish-brown, are as much as forty years old. Using wet-plate collodion, a 19th century photographic process, Adams develops the desert scenes directly onto the cans found there. The timelessness of the deserts emerges through the images on the can, the decades of corrosion on it, and the antiquated photographic technique.
In 1850, Walter Potter was 15 years old when he first began experimenting with taxidermy. By the age of 19, Potter had already created his best-known taxidermy tableaux, “The Death and Burial of Cock Robin” which was displayed, along with his other work, at a pub his family owned in Bramber, West Sussex. Potter’s taxidermy dioramas feature anthropomorphized animals acting out Victorian life scenes. During the Victorian era, taxidermy was a popular practice, and in 1880, a dedicated museum building was opened because the tableaux at the pub had created quite a scene. Over time, the interest in taxidermy declined, and the museum was moved before closing down.
Though Potter’s dioramas could be considered morbid, especially by modern standards, there’s something Beatrix Potteresque (no relation) about his work, mostly in its strange and whimsical Victorianism. “Kittens’ Wedding” was Potter’s last tableaux before his death in 1890; this piece was auctioned at Bonham’s (along with most of the collection) in 2003 for £21,150 (around $35,500). Among those present at the auction were artists Peter Blake, David Bailey, and Damien Hirst, who reportedly bid £1 million (almost $1.7) for Potter’s entire collection, but it was rejected by the auctioneers. This caused the owners of the collection to sue Bonham’s because they believed such an offer should have been immediately accepted in order to keep the collection in tact. In 2007, Hirst told The Guardian that “Kittens’ Wedding” was one of his favorites of Potter’s work: “All these kittens dressed up in costumes, even wearing jewellery. The kittens don’t look much like kittens, but that’s not the point.”
The Telegraph notes, “To a modern eye […]these ‘freaks of nature’ appear eerily macabre. Indeed, some Victorian viewers were outraged by the grotesquery and criticised Potter for abuse of animals, despite a museum disclaimer stating that no animals had been deliberately killed for the collection.” But then they later explain that not all of Potter’s tableaux were sourced ethically. Before neutering was commonplace, freely roaming farm kittens would often be killed off. Potter had an agreement with a local farmer who provided the kittens; this would explain the high number of participants in his tableaux.
The accompanying images are sourced from Dr. Pat Morris and Joanna Ebenstein’s book about Potter and his work, “Walter Potter’s Curious World of Taxidermy,” released earlier this year. Ebenstein says that she’s interested in “the context that creates these things, and why certain things come to be seen as bizarre to us, when obviously they weren’t at the time.” (via telegraph)
German artist Thorsten Brinkmann “tangles with a modern-day caveman’s dreams. Unable to resist the allure of dumped urban detritus, this German artist recomposes and intervenes in the trash to scrap cycle to come up with installations, videos or photos such as portraits and still lifes.” Quote via DAMN magazine.
Kevin Dowd creates photo collages that examine the familiar in surreal environments. An amusement park ride is suspended in mid-air; the lonely peak of a roller coaster ride frames a mysterious moon. His artwork resonates with emotional meaning, evoking feelings of uncertainty and isolation. By using the totems of our childhood — brightly colored balloons, swings, and theme park rides — Dowd also calls up a sense of unsettling nostalgia.
This is no coincidence. One of his collections is called Technostalgia: a pair of balloons tethered to a telephone pole, at odds with a wisp of cloud in the background that could either be coming or going. The artist’s intent is to examine “the nature of communication, the analogous methods of wired transmission, sound and even thought.”
Dowd is a thoughtful artist who has grand metaphorical meanings behind his work. Field Day: Ascent, the collage of children on swings rising into the sky, is meant to “capture sensations of awe and beauty, while recognizing the tentative nature of such experiences.” The photos of the roller coaster, named Babel I and Babel II, “explore the hubris of man.”
Whether or not the viewers grasp those exact interpretations, though, Dowd’s work still stirs up feelings of traveling to times and places long gone. (h/t I Need a Guide)
Canadian photographer, Amy Friend revisits the past and explores themes of memory and impermanence through the alteration and re-imagination of vintage photographs. The artist inserts a charming glow to the silhouettes of her subjects; the additions makes the images come to life, almost as if the aura of the deceased is alive. “By re-using lights”, she says “I return the subject of the photographs back to the light, while simultaneously bringing them forward.”
I employ materials and surroundings that are familiar to me using them as starting points for my investigations. These materials become the substance I use to inform the work I create. In my practice I tend to work within the medium of photography, however, I am not concerned with capturing a “concrete” reality. Instead, I aim to use photography as a medium that offers the possibility of exploring the relationship between what is visible and non-visible.
The world of dollhouse miniatures is dominated by sweet structures with period-perfect furniture and impossibly tiny accessories. Leanne Eisen subverts all expectations with “Play” her photo series of 1/12th scale brothel, strip club and other sex trade sites. Eisen makes the pieces of these meticulously detailed scenes herself, having found difficulty in sourcing ready-made miniature condoms, porn magazines and sex toys. The spaces have a seedy, disreputable air enhanced by the details—a used washcloth hangs haphazardly over the sink, sequined shoes are abandoned on the strip club stage, and a forest of egg timers sits under posted house rules. Although Eisen had not been in an actual brothel, she researched films, documentaries, books, and photographs to create her voyeuristic spaces.
The photographs in “Play” are enlarged, playing with scale to disorienting effect. Scenes that are rendered in miniature are suddenly life-size again, with no referent of scale in the images. These are realistic spaces but they are also fantastical. No woman will ever spin on the golden pole. The cow clock in the kitchen will always read 10:10. These abandoned rooms tell their stories through their contents. She says:
I am very interested in residential spaces; the artifacts that we accumulate and leave behind, and how they tell our stories in our absence. I also find the idea of a space that is seemingly a workplace as well as a residence intriguing. In these photos, the viewer takes the role of voyeur, and can take the time to analyze the setting at a perhaps more manageable, less intimidating scale.
The series also serves as a commentary of the accepted social roles for women in a residential space. Where a traditional dollhouse might have a domestic mother figure keeping house, these spaces are intended for women as sexual objects. Whether in the sad paneled room with the pink-clad single bed or in the black walled sex chamber with its red X and metal cage, these are spaces intended to commercialize women.
Through detailed conceptualization, deliberate craft and artful photography, “Play” blurs the lines between whimsy and menace, making pointed observations about the place of women in this world.
Beautiful colors with the thickness and brightness of animation cell art, Chinese artist Zhou Fan’s works are inspired from childhood dreams of jellyfish parades in the sky falling to the ground to become mushrooms. She’s found that these dreams which have left a deep impression on her also capture more of her focus than reality. I don’t blame her!