Photographer Richard Mosse was recently featured BLDGBLOG, one of my favorite architecture blogs run by Geoff Manaugh. The pictures show the extravagance of Saddam Hussein’s imperial palaces converted to plywood built forts resembling college dorms with all its amenities of “weight sets, flags, partition walls, sofas, basketball hoops, and even posters of bikini’d women have been imported to fill Saddam’s spatial residuum. The effect is oddly decorative, as if someone has simply moved in for a long weekend, unpacking an assortment of mundane possessions. The effect is like an ironic form of camouflage, making the perilously foreign seem all the more familiar and habitable—a kind of military twist on postmodern interior design.” See more of what Mosse has to say about his project after the jump.
The works São Paulo-based Odires Mlászho hinge on transformations, often employing books, found images, tape, paste and collage. The Brazilian artist’s name is even a work of transmutation. Born José Odires Micowski, Mlászho created his artist pseudonym by borrowing from and combining the names of his two great influences, Max Ernst and László Moholy-Nagy. In a description taken from an insightful studio visit with Goethe-Institut, the following is perhaps the best description of the artist’s working process. “In Odires Mlászho’s work, objects are photos, texts are images, books are sculptures: nothing occupies its original place in the world. With his work the artist proves that things are not such as defined in the way we tend to believe and that after destruction objects can be re-created and reused in a total different way. His work offers us the possibility of entering a world with a completely new kind of perception: it is our world, all the original elements are there, but this world is truly and deeply transformed.
For works which Mlászho debuted earlier this summer at ‘Inside/Outside’ at the Venice Art Biennale 2013, he weaved individual pages of books until they were connected and bound in an entirely new way. Created with fellow Brazilian artist, Hélio Fervenza, the book sculptures rely on an intricate twisting of possibilities which are visually engrossing and immediately approachable, a difficult feat considering the complex theories behind the work.
Hiroshi Watanabe is a photographer interested in places and people. Capturing traditions and locales that hold a personal interest for him, Watanabe was drawn to various elements of Japanese culture. Particularly interested in forms of theatricality, Watanabe sought to capture individual performers within the traditions of Sarumawashi, Noh, Ena Bunraku and Kabuki. Stylized human actors, monkeys, masks and puppets become the subject matter of Watanabe’s striking and powerful photographs. Though the traditions come from different regions and periods of history, they are tied together by Watanabe’s eye. Of his work he says:
“I strive for both calculation and discovery in my work, keeping my mind open for surprises. At times, I envision images I’d like to capture, but when I actually look through the viewfinder, my mind goes blank and I photograph whatever catches my eye. Photographs I return with are usually different from my original concepts. My photographs reflect both genuine interest in my subject as well as a respect for the element of serendipity, while other times I seek pure beauty. The pure enjoyment of this process drives and inspires me. I believe there’s a thread that connects all of my work — my personal vision of the world as a whole. I make every effort to be a faithful visual recorder of the world around me, a world in flux that, at very least in my mind, deserves preservation.”
Artur Bordalo (aka Bordalo II) is a street artist who has created a series of wall-sized animal murals using paint and clever reconfigurations of recycled trash. Among his “found” materials are scrap metal, tires, tubing, and crushed bumpers — anything that has been produced, used, and thrown away to last an eternity in the landfill. Stunningly, Bordalo has turned such tarnished objects into delicate feathers, soft fur, and complex exoskeletons, paying a bold homage to the animals he represents. In a clever blend of 2D and 3D art, the creations emerge from the walls like brilliant optical illusions, demanding our attention and curiosity.
Built in urban spaces, the sculpted murals occupy apartment buildings, underpasses, and forgotten corners. Bordalo’s goal is to bring attention to the pervasiveness of environmental degradation, and how our “throwaway culture” transforms natural habitats into graveyards of non-biodegradable waste. The sculptures stand as beautifully sad monuments to the animals that once lived in those spaces, and in other developed and exploited areas around the world. Giving a literal “face” to both our garbage and the fellow species our consumer behaviors affect, Bordalo’s work is both intensely creative and culturally conscious.
Thank you so much everyone who came to the show this weekend. Videos and audience did indeed collide with each other. I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in the show and thank you for making it a success!
There’s still 2 more interviews left in the series! Please check out Zeesy Power’s interview after the jump. She’s honestly one of a few people who’s got the most um, balls, that I’ve ever known. Her experience trying out the I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think Of You For $5 series Beverly Hills right after landing in the US: “Few passersby, mostly homeless. No contact. Beverly Hills Coffee – Heavy discouragement from blonde barrista, ‘the boss would be mortified’. Also advised that agents from William Morris would be unimpressed. Suggested I try the parking garage instead.”
Rebecca Stevenson’s figurative sculptures are both eerie and beautiful. Using primarily polyresin and wax, her concept usually begins with a human or animal figure cast in a subdued monochromatic color that then appears to blossom or decay with varieties of multi-colored organic compounds. These blossoms almost consume the figures, resulting in provocative, surreal sculptures. Her work embodies the process of creation and destruction, revealing the beauty that emerges from this organic cycle. Some of it reminds me of walking around farm pastures when I was younger, and discovering various animal skulls that the grass had begun to climb through. If her work is disturbing, it is only because it doesn’t try to mask the macabre beauty of the growth/decay process. “My work is concerned with the visceral and the sensual. It draws upon anatomical drawing and botanical illustration, but occupies a liminal territory between scientific enquiry and the subjective, imaginary body.” (via)
“If I didn’t go to art school, my mother would send me to a military academy.” A week or so ago, we featured the work of Brooklyn based artist Mu Pan. Here’s a brief interview with the artist in his studio from Kristen Holmes in which he expounds on some of his influences, inspirations, and process. Video after the jump.
Michael Craig-Martin has been creating art since the 1960s. His wall painting installations from the 1990s and 2000s feel current with their bright colors and flat appearance, but some of the items in the paintings, ubiquitous at the time they were captured, are now relics. Among the shoes and pails rendered in black tape outlines are Nokia style cell phones and milk bottles. That doesn’t diminish the charm of these installations. Craig-Martin’s intent was to make these works in a generic style, even attempting to erase his personality from the works by using tape as outlines instead of pencil drawings. It didn’t work. The purposeful non-style of painted mass-produced items executed meticulously in a vibrant palette at enlarged scale has become one of Craig-Martin’s signatures. The choice of everyday objects for his wall installations was a purposeful one.
“I thought the objects we value least because they were ubiquitous were actually the most extraordinary. … I wanted people to realise how extraordinary everyday objects are, and think about what image-making is. The impulse was never nostalgia, kitsch or a critique of consumerism.” (Source)
Photos of the installations can only capture part of their impact. Walking around a corner only to be confronted with an enormous pink desk lamp is part of the experience, as are the shifting views of eyeglasses and belts through the arches of a candy-colored room. Only when standing next to a seven-foot extinguisher can the scale of the articles be truly appreciated.
Though he is often called a conceptual artist, Craig-Martin prefers to be called radical. It’s not just about the concept for him—the making that comes from the idea is equally important. “Throughout his career, through work in many different media, he has explored the expressive potential of commonplace objects and images.”