Ian Strange’s site-specific artwork injects violent excitement into suburban areas, or drops the suburbs down smack in the middle of the city. With either strategy, his work comments on the drawl and deep isolation of the suburban life through paint and installation. In his most recent project, ‘Landed’ (made for the 2014 Biennial of Australian Art), Strange created a life size installation of approximately half a suburban home, painted entirely black, and made it to look as if it had either been dropped from the sky or was emerging from the ground in the Art Gallery of South Australia’s front courtyard. Details of gravel surrounding the home and a lit porch light add credibility to the realism of the scene.
In his ‘Suburban’ series, Strange uses severe colours like red and the same matte black as he later would for ‘Landed’ to demonstrate the oddity of suburban living, and the isolation he believes is quite present in such neighbourhoods. The dripping skull is jarring, as is the massive red X, but even just the large black circle has a haunting feeling. It is as if the house is there save the one gaping piece, and the viewer is left to wonder what unsettling things might inhabit it. (Via inthralld.)
Conceptual artist Can Pedekmir creates digital portraits of imaginary creatures. According to the bio on his website, he works on the “deformation of human and animal body using various methodologies,” one of which he lists as applying “mathematical equations.” Other methodologies seem to include using hair. Lots of hair.
Pekdemir’s portraits are in stark black and white and appear like artifacts from an alternate dimension. His subjects are creatures with no distinguishable features; instead, their faces and entire heads are coiffed, tangled masses of hair and other biomatter. The result looks something like Where the Wild Things Are by way of Edward Gorey. Alternatively, it’s as though an entire forest undergrowth developed sentience and decided to pose for some erstwhile photographer.
Pekdemir’s work was featured most recently at the Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, which ended late last month. He’s listed as a photographer, which only serves to highlight the eerie surreal quality of his art. Part photography and part elaborate fiction, his work blurs the lines between what is and what could be. (via Hi-Fructose)
Mickalene Thomas arranges collages, stages photographs, places rhinestones, directs art films and layers up oil and acrylic paint, all in the name of beauty and feminism. Her glittering artworks are a homage to black culture, cubism, portraiture, ideas of the still life and what it is to be a woman. Initially inviting women into her studio and coercing an energy out of them, she aims to represent these ladies as “beautiful, sexual, desirable, stylish and fierce”. (Source) Thomas says she, as well as other black women have had to consider this question of beauty often:
Beauty has always been an element of discussion for black women, whether or not we were the ones having the conversation. We’ve had to contend with the element of our hair. Beauty pros and cons have changed the world of how we perceive each other. Some people go to great lengths to bleach themselves to conform to the norm, the whiteness, and all the complexities. (Source)
Thomas’ artwork is an exploration of how one presents themselves – the images we create of ourselves, how we chop and change our appearance, and why. She has been involved in a couple of different projects lately as well. Including designing pop star Solange Knowles’ EP cover and airing her directorial debut on HBO called “Happy Birthday To A Beautiful Woman” earlier this year. This art film is a kind of love letter to her mother – and an extension of her research into women and their identity. While her work is undeniably beautiful and luscious on the surface, she is concerned more with what that exterior is hiding. Thomas says:
I am drawn to objects and people that have undergone some kind of a hardship. They are beautiful and there is an artifice to them, but if you dig deeper, there’s another layer. (Source)
Art directors Anaïs Boileau and Samuel Volk are the dream team when it comes to creating short and snappy campaign ideas. This time around they have used their skills to benefit The World Wildlife Fund in a project called WWF/Botanimal. With flawless Photoshopping technique, they have camouflaged images of endangered animals into forested landscapes. With the tagline “Donate to save a tree and save 875,000 species for free”, this is one clever visual narrative detailing a worthy cause. Boileau and Volk show us exactly what these beautiful environments would be without the animals roaming around within them.
Boileau is also responsible for another campaign with a responsible message. Called WWF/WeWantFurniture.com, she imagined a brand and designed a corresponding website “selling” wood to customers. Apparently from all wood sold, 40 percent is made from illegal wood. She devised a very effective way to show customers the ecological effects of buying cheap furniture. The effects of deforestation can be devastating, as we are reminded in this new campaign also.
Working with creative directors in a commercial environment, Boileau and Volk are able to maximize their reach to a large audience, and come up with visually interesting answers to complex questions. Boileau sums her work up nicely:
[Impassioned] by craft and art direction; I have been lucky to work with talented photographers, retouchers and CGI artists. The best part of my job is to imagine visual universes, and find creative solutions.
Click here to see more of Boileau’s work, including her hilarious take on disfigured fruits.
Living on a Dollar a Day is a collection of photographs dedicated to taking a closer, personal look at the shocking poverty and hunger that millions go through every day. The book is a collaboration between author Thomas A. Nazario, founder of The Forgotten International, and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Renée C. Byer.
In an interview with Mother Jones, Nazario explains the impetus for the book: “I was tired of spending time with people on the street all over the world who had simply been forgotten—by their families, by their village, and by whatever communities they might be associated with.”
The photographs in “Living on a Dollar a Day” aren’t just snapshots; they are part of a continuing story. Nazario and Byer are careful to include a snippet of their subjects’ lives, closing the distance in a personal and intimate way.
“Why does it take a typhoon or an earthquake to wake up people to the truth that far more people die of poverty every day?” Nazario asks.
What’s behind the door of a therapist’s office? Psychiatrist and photographer Sebastian Zimmermann provides a look into these spaces with his new book titled Fifty Shrinks. It features 50 portraits of New York City therapists in offices that are normally only seen by their patients.
“In contrast to other medical specialists’ offices with their practical equipment of examining tables and rolling tools, the therapist’s work space has few obvious demands beyond seating for clinician and patient,” Zimmermann writes in the introduction. It’s fascinating to see how these offices vary, each with their own idiosyncrasies that meant to support those they’re trying to treat. An essay for the book, by architect Elizabeth Danze, explains that the spaces are “floating vessels, places of sanctuary and protection, healing, and reconciliation,” and goes on to say, “a patient reflects on the trajectory of his or her therapy, an indelible part of that recollection involves the space in which it took place.”
Depending on your personal preference, some offices are more appealing than others. The colors, textures, and choice of seating are all different and no doubt unique to their own philosophies. Zimmermann had the idea for this project about 13 years ago, when he was starting his own practice, and became “aware of the paradox that I spent most of my time interacting with many people yet feeling that I worked in isolation.” (via Hyperallergic)
To promote a new line of recycled paper, the creative ad-agency Soon made these fantastic sculptures of bugs. The bugs are inventive in form and colour, but are still recognizable as beetles, bees, dragonflies, and other species of insect. The wings are meticulously cut out to imitate the texture of real wings, but without the thin film that would allow them to fly. The sculptures really are all about texture. One that looks like it could be a fly has the texture of a fly’s eyes over the entirety of its body, and feelers that look like the filter-feeding system of a baleen whale.
It’s funny to see the “making of” video, because the bugs are as large as their creators’ hands. It’s entertaining to see the process of making the bugs. The video shows everyone at the agency sorting the papers by colour (even enlisting their children to help them), cutting the paper into different shapes or folding it like origami, and gluing it to create rather sturdy looking sculptures. It’s totally enjoyable to see such a collaborative effort to successful effect.
Soon also created flowers and other plants as a sort of habitat for the bugs. Using the habitat, they made a short film of the bugs flying around it, that is equal parts playful and funny. (Via Bizarre Beyond Belief)
The title of Lilly McElroy’s photo series “I Throw Myself at Men” could not be more literal. The photos, taken by her partner in the project, capture her mid-air as she lunges at various men. She throws herself into the air with abandon and trusts that these strangers will catch her. It’s an act of immense bravery captured on film. No, she’s not saving lives or fighting demons, but McElroy is risking rejection and public humiliation in the name of art, and that takes a strength of conviction that I find breathtaking.
Initially, McElroy arranged the photo sessions using Craig’s List, but found that the spontaneity of going to a bar, asking a physically large man to participate by trying to catch her at the very last moment, letting the bartender know what was happening, and then tossing herself in the air resulted in better images. The other bar patrons weren’t in on the project—the sight of the airborne McElroy and the flash of the camera were the signals that something was going on.
“I am, at the moment, part projectile and part foolish romantic. These images are documents of a hopeful and violent gesture, a demand that the possibility of a connection exist. The men often look terrified or at least slightly surprised. My role as aggressor is clear and I think my leaps acknowledge the basic human desire for contact.”
The awkward position of her body, the stoic tension of the male catcher, the illuminated bar scenes—all work together to make a captivating yet uncomfortable tableau. When they’re pictured, it’s the onlookers that make this series for me, though. Outside of the art making they smirk and gape—McElroy’s unexpected grand gesture of connection misunderstood and unappreciated. This spectacle of literally throwing herself at men mimics the small, sad desperations of women figuratively throwing themselves at men. By exaggerating the impulse, McElroy regains the upper hand. It is a supremely feminist performance, one that takes chances but never relinquishes power.
“The photographs, videos, and installations that I produce, while trying to interact, acknowledge the possibility of failure — that someone might not catch me, that a connection might not be made. It is that possibility that keeps things interesting. In the end, I want to make the viewer laugh, but I want them to understand that there is more at stake, that everyone is implicated – including me.”