Photographer Justin Bettman‘s Bagel Project is much more than a series of well produced photographs. Bettman meets with homeless people throughout California and exchanges a bagel for a story. He then documents each story with a photograph.
Bettman admits, “The homeless in our cities are often forgotten, as after a while they become a part of the city themselves; blending in like streetlights and bus stops, or any of the other things we walk by hundreds of times a day.”
His images, though, reveal incredible depths of narrative in simple subtle facial expressions. He goes on to say, “I’ve been continually surprised by the fact that these people are content with their lives; if anything, they are happier to have a friend to talk to rather than the food provided.”
Bettman’s blog accompanies each photo with a story – an extremely interesting read that is difficult leaving.
Agua Sagrada is the title of this series of photographs by Columbia-educated James Pomerantz. The photos were taken in Mexico at a cenote, which is a water-filled sinkhole, found mostly in the Yucatan, that the Mayans believed to be portals to another world. Today these cenotes are tourist destinations, though the otherworldly Mayan connotations are still plainly evident in their haunting, ethereal appearance.
More photos after the jump, but check out Pomerantz’s site for some other beautiful sets, mostly of poverty or tragedy-stricken places like Eastern Europe and the Congo.
1994-1997 were significant years in my life. I was stuck in the suburbs rotting away at a high school where nothing of interest ever happened. I spent my weekends riding the metro into D.C. to paint graffiti, go to hardcore shows, skateboard and generally cause mischief. (Remember that the internet was in its early stages, so finding a cool magazine that covered my interests was a rare feat.) 12 oz. Prophet was one of my main sources of inspiration. Primarily covering graffiti and what would eventually be called “street art,” 12 oz. was ahead of the curve. 12 oz. is still around, so if you need a graffiti fix check out their site. The issue pictured above featured a great interview with Twist (Barry Mcgee). Only a few of you know about this, but the name “Beautiful/Decay” actually comes from the last question in the interview: “Raven – You’re really into shit that’s all rundown and decaying, huh?” And Twist responded: “I love stuff that’s rundown, rusted, beautiful decay, a state of decay.” I didn’t start B/D immediately after reading the interview, but the phrase “Beautiful Decay” stuck in my head for weeks. Finally, after reading several ‘zines at shows and trying to find something meaningful to do with my time I decided to put the phrase to good use and start our humble lil ‘zine.
Nicolas Deshayes lives and works in France. He utilizes vacuum-formed plastic, anodized aluminum, and polystyrene to create textured abstractions. His compositions remain static until an area is covered in the formed plastic, the work then resembles flowing color fields. Like glimpses into another dimension his sculptures ebb and flow as colors swirl around the viewer.
If you ever worry about the microbes living unseen inside your own home, beware: artist Margarita Sampson has beautifully manifested your worst fears — but with good intentions. In a series of soft sculptures currently being exhibited at the Stanley Street Gallery in Sydney, Sampson upholstered found chairs with colonies of organic growth. All of the sprouting nodules and budding orifices are meticulously hand-sewn with brightly colored textile materials, giving the hairy and spiny lifeforms both an endearing and unsettling quality. Inspired by Sampson’s upbringing on Norfolk Island, the coral- and urchin-like growths seem to take on a presence and consciousness of their own; leave them for a few weeks, and they might consume the entire room.
Titled Infectious Desires, Sampson’s exhibition explores the false dichotomy of domestic sterility and messy, organic life. We often imagine our bodies as detached from the chaotic and “dirty” processes of proliferation and decay — indeed, separate from the microscopic worlds that breed and die on every surface we encounter — when in fact we are already enmeshed within those environments. As Sampson eloquently expresses on the Stanley Street Gallery exhibition page, the “glamour” of interior life is illusory:
“Glamour is the strict control of the body or the environment, sublimated to an ideal — there’s no body fluids or stains in glamour. It’s about boundaries, zones of comfort. We feel we are betrayed by our bodies — a lot of this work is about my own aging, my body, about death and disease, about fear and surrender, tightening and release” (Source).
With their hyperbolic size and sexually suggestive shapes, Samspon’s sculptures boldly encounter us with the material realities of our bodies. There is no need to fear the lifeforms inhabiting our favorite furniture — we (and anything we shed, ooze, or excrete) are already hosts to invisible, microbial landscapes.
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)
Bay Area-based printmaker Amber Fawn Keig‘s works on paper are a collection of colored pencil, gouache and lithographic prints—pulled together under the cohesive investigation of memory. The likenesses scratched out in her careful, stylistic black-and-white prints have the visually-loaded tinge of early 1990’s Americana. Keig usually works with imagery of her friends and family to create these works, although the narratives expressed are somewhat vague and seemingly fictional.
If anything, the litho prints pull the viewer in for a moment of intense technical examination, to look closely at Keig’s tiny, expert strokes, and to take in her careful thematic twists and turns, often embedded in the layered images she pulls together. While the black-and-white works stand well on their own, they’re complimented perfectly by the fluid, intuitive colorwork of her painted and pencil-drawn works. THe moments where the two mediums intersect are the most interesting, but each part of Keig’s current series seems to feed well into the same conceptual vein. While the scale is small, the subject matter is quite curious, and these works carry a kind of welcome, yet weary hominess in their portrayal of contemporary American experience.