Catherine Chalmers manages to make captivating and beautiful those creatures that cause most of us to feel squeamish. Chalmers travels the world to capture images and video of rodents and insects in their habitats. Being one part scientist and one part artist, Chalmers is interested in bringing focus to nature using art as her vehicle.
For her most recent project, Leafcutters, which was partially funded by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Chalmers captured the activities of ants. She was intrigued by the many similarities they have with humans. She noted that like us, they inhabit almost every ecosystem on Earth, are one of the dominant species in their habitats and they impact the grand structure of other biological systems. Beyond that they also wage war, take slaves, raise and keep other animals for food, and are also capable of making their own antibiotics. They’re also, as Chalmers demonstrates, highly photogenic.
Chalmers American Cockroach series, equally beautiful and tough, captured arguably the world’s most dreaded insect. Forcing us to confront our discomfort with cockroaches Chalmers wondered if she could seduce people into liking them because, as with the ants, they’re a lot like us.
One year in the making, Loom is an epic story of a moth caught in a spiders web. You probably can guess the outcome but rest assured that you’ve never seen nature take its course in such an intense and vivid way. Watch the full video after the jump.
In Maria Jose Garcia Piaggio’s “Through the Window,” she appropriates found images as part of her investigation about cybersex. A project in two parts, the images of men capture them watching though free portals; the women’s photos are taken from live shows where the viewer has to pay to participate.
“I want to be able to show these scenarios that we all know are there but we keep hidden, deconstructing it from the virtual context and taking it to other scenarios to show these two groups to the viewer.”
There’s no mention in the project description of consent, so it’s unclear whether these voyeurs and provocateurs are willing participants in this project. Likewise, there are no descriptive texts or photographer/videographer credits available. Since these are found images, Piaggio serves less as an artist and more as a curator of these experiences. The images she’s chosen are interesting in their variety: the men’s and women’s faces are both alternately fully exposed and hidden. Rooms are revealed in the background, or left darkened and unspecific. Some subjects smile into the camera, others seem unaware that they’re being photographed.
It’s a broad subject and a provocative one, and Piaggio’s notes indicate that this is just the start of the project. She says, “I reflect about the body, the pose and the clichés.” In continuing to compile these images, Piaggio has the opportunity to push past the expected and reveal more about the proclivities of the watchers and the watched.
James Charles, pop culture and dollar bills. A strange combination for an astonishing result. The artist transforms traditional portraits on bills into random movie characters, singers and artists. He only uses ink and paint to trace and re-write on the bills. The result is witty and fun to watch.
It all started out with random doodling on a couple of dollar bills. James Charles was not even aware of the treasure he was carrying in his pocket as he was spending the bills. He therefore decided to store them in a magazine, using it as a safe. The more he drew, the larger the magazine got. The mutant bills have their president’s faces changed into male and female pop culture inspired characters. James Charles added a script below the faces, naming or giving hints in case we miss them. Yoda, Einstein, Mister T, Willy Wonka, Princess Leia, Spock, Iggy Pop, Kiss and many others are altering the seriousness of the symbolic of money.
The artist drew on 5 dollar bills as well as on 100 dollar bills. The value of money is put aside here to focus on the true meaning of a paper bill components: paper and ink. So little and meaningless elements for such tremendous stakes. By associating easy recognizable pop features, James Charles is aiming to reach the mass. He has done it again more recently in Monstro Eyegasmica, a mix of popular iconographies such as The Kiss by Klimt or the use of sarcasm with some of the Disney characters. A series of paintings and collages blending pop culture and vibrant colored characters.
James Charles’ Monstro Eyegasmica series will be displayed at the Joseph Gross Gallery in New York until November 25th 2015.
I imagine the inspiration for !!!’s Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass video is 70’s porn set meets 2010 hip motion reel meets Miami pool party where a spontaneous performance piece by a recent MFA takes place.
Interested in the floor, the wall, their flatness and the way his sculptures engage with both of them, artist Joel Shapiro’s installations and sculptures are dynamic and engaging. Suspending sculptures at various points and angles throughout a space, Shapiro seeks to create a sense of movement that depends on the forms and their relationships to one another. Though not site-specific, his installations are in direct dialogue with architecture. Shapiro is compelled by what he refers to as that “capricious” moment where forms come together to become something else.
Born in Sunnyside, Queens to a physician and microbiologist Shapiro tried to follow his parents into science, but realized that he had to become an artist. Of the need to make art he says, “You have to have some real drive and deep belief, a combination of ego and humility, so it’s difficult. You have to have some sense of self and have to have some doubting sense of self in order to externalize your interior, so it’s a peculiar combination of factors, at least in my case, that you sort of, in retrospect, allow. I’m always surprised that the work looks good!”
The extreme structural and architectural nature of Shapiro’s work, however, perhaps begs at that scientific inclination. There is a precision to his abstraction that is challenging in the way it defies gravity and logic. Catch his show currently up at LA Louver through January 14th.
Chicago artist Mike Rea builds hyper-realistic wooden replicas of objects that have a connection to the culture of a stereotypical heterosexual male. His sculptures are either props from science fiction cinema, or personal memories – made primarily from wood, burlap and Styrofoam. Rea builds things like jail cells, video cameras used for filming pornography, Anaconda snakes, pick axes, robots, strange bits of machinery, Scuba diving tanks, and amplifiers. All are meticulously crafted and are rooted in pop culture. Rea is a self confessed film geek, watching up to 3 films a day and draws a lot of inspiration from the ‘swagger’ and macho attitudes in films like Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof.
Rea describes his own take on his practice:
There is a kind of wry sense of humor to the work, but at the same time it’s coupled with this process—this meticulous, very specific kind of over-detailed expression of these contradictions and maybe the most stupid stuff for subject matter. I’ll spend six months on a stupid joke seeing if that makes it better. They’re these large wooden sculptures that are hopefully a little funny and a little bit dark. They’re probably over-built, which is usually just a process of me making lots of mistakes and having to add another layer to cover up where a seam didn’t match. (Source)
Using humor and wit, Rea is trying to see how our desires and obsessions (usually those of a hetero male – weapons, substance abuse and the opposite sex) are tied into popular culture. Whether you are a nerd or not, you will no doubt be delighted by the incredible wooden wonderland Rea creates. See more sculptures after the jump.