The instrument of horror in the performance was The Apollo Chair, which was infamously used by Iran’s secret police. Saunders would be strapped down into it; Duncan would wield a stun gun capable of emitting 5 million volts. An altogether harrowing performance piece, the nightmare was completed by a tin can placed over Saunders head in a grim mask that is practically funereal.
In preparation for the performance, Saunders submitted himself to torture by his own hand as well as those of his friends. During each painful session, he created a series of mixed media art pieces named, “While Being Tortured,” a raw collection of first-person suffering. The series is painful to look at, a searing indictment of the terrors and evils human beings are capable of.
Each piece evokes a claustrophobic sense of helplessness, reduced to an almost primitive artform. Some are more coherent, showing clearly the entry wounds, where the bone is being bent and the skin is being torn. Others are jagged jolts of color and furious scribbling, as though coming straight from the lizard brain. The primal shapes and lines are disturbing suggestions of the kind of seismic experience tearing through the artist.
We’ve featured Saunders’ art before as he explored the effects of drug use in his artwork. Similarly, “While Being Tortured” is a visceral window into others’ experiences in a way that might not be accessible otherwise. “In no way do I wish to equate my experiences with [victims of torture] or belittle their experiences with my art,” Saunders says. “My goal was simply to create a different way of bringing awareness to something that is currently happening in over 200 countries throughout the world.”
AIDS-3D is a collaboration between two American artists, Daniel Keller and Nik Kosmas, both of whom were born in 1986. Their work, and the documentation of it, is about as cryptic and brash as their mysterious name. Their influences are clear – low brow 1990s cyber-culture, space mysticism, aliens, etc, etc – but the work revolving around said themes can be quite clever and subversive.
With a background in craftsmanship and carpentry, Jan Reymond creates sculptures by recycling discarded objects. His most well-known installations are made of books. Even in his smaller scale work with furniture, his eye for architectural design is apparent. He’s also created large scale designs made out of discarded cell phones. In addition to this installation work, he crafts furniture and other domestic objects with an eye for practicality and aesthetic pleasure. His work asks us to consider the boundary between functional and non-functional artwork.
An amazing photography project by Tiina Itkonen about his trips to Greenland. Here is a description of the project in the artist’s own words: Since the beginning of the 1990s, I have been searching for my own Ultima Thule, my place in the Far North. I was enchanted by the story of the Mother of the Sea and, in 1995, it inspired me to set off for the place where the story originated in Greenland. The lack of haste, the friendliness of the people and the silence of the glaciers compelled me to return to Greenland in 1998, 2002, 2005 and 2006.
Gary Clark, or, preferably Graphic Nothing, takes the word “graphic” very literally. His works consist of lines, curves colors organized in a well thought out fashion. It’s like those color theory books you pick up in the computer section of the bookstore, but on crack. Or something similar. Either way, they’re mesmorizing to stare at, just don’t do it for too long or your face will stay that way.
On an ethereal ground of white light Christophe Avella-Bagur shows us archetypal representations of male and female bodies that answer our expectations of mass-produced perfection. Avella-Bagur disrupts this ideal with a second layer of portraits painted in visceral flesh-tones that never quite register with the face’s outline. The two portraits are collapsed together to create disturbingly distorted juxtapositions painted in the grotesque manner of El Greco or Goya.
Avella-Bagur first began the Floating Souls series in 2005, working in a medium-sized format. These paintings contained archetypal figures with their eyes closed, in which a “floating soul” was depicted attempting to register with its host. Now the idealized bodies have their eyes open, creating tension and visual complexity between the two faces.
It’s funny how “facts” “evidence” and “reality” have a way of changing over time. How do they decide where the line between legal and illegal lies? Sometimes it’s anyone’s guess. Though probably money related. Rena Littleson’s The Truth About Drugs series of graphic illustrations explores these topics and more after the jump.