Dutch artist Hinke Schreuders creates embroidered works that run the gamut from sinister to playful. Stitching directly on photographs and illustrations, Schreuders creates entirely new artworks by shifting the emphasis and adding pops of color or whole new objects and interactions. She transforms a dreary gray tree to a flowering one with little buds raining down like a curtain of beads. In other photographs, she applies her hand to texturing rivers with pale blue and adding spirals of threading forming fluffy white clouds.
In collaboration with microbiologists, the English artist Anna Dumitriu has honed her unique talent for working with bacteria as a means of staining fabric; her high-art fashions feature organic patterns made by microorganisms. In her most recent installation project, The Romantic Disease, she works with a more dangerous type of bacteria: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the organism responsible for Tuberculosis.
In combining now-killed TB DNA with found and altered relics of late 19th and early 20th century technologies, Dumitriu creates a vivid medicinal—and often foreboding— landscape. Before the invention of antibiotics, TB patients were taken to “sanatoria,” hospitals built at high altitudes (then thought to be beneficial to sufferers), where they were confined to bed and given extreme treatments. For a piece titled “Rest, Rest, and Rest!” Dumitriu constructs a model sanitarium bed; for another piece, she carves the pattern of lung tissue onto an actual Pneumothorax Machine, once used to collapse patients’ lungs.
The Romantic Disease is neither a historical or scientific tour of old hospital machinery; on the contrary, is is an emotionally dangerous and poignantly subjective exploration of the disease. Although the exhibit avoids mention or representation of actual sufferers, individual pieces are imbued with a distinctly human touch. The sanitarium bed and curtain are small and delicate as dollhouse pieces; beside the larger pieces, they appear lonesome and afraid. Similarly, a group of miniature woven felt lungs, each containing sterilized Mycobacterium tuberculosis, appear to flutter like tiny, fragile birds beside the Pneumothorax Machine.
A maternity dress, dyed with supposed TB cures like safflower and madder root, hangs loosely on a dress form; this piece becomes all the more heartbreaking with the knowledge that at a time when the disease was thought to be spread genetically, pregnant women underwent forced abortions. The historical reverence and tender craftsmanship with which Anna Dumitriu presents The Romantic Disease serves to humanize those who suffered at the hands of this politically and socially fraught disease. The work is currently on display at West London’s Waterman’s. (via Smithsonian Magazine and Anna Dumitriu)
The Unknown Fields Division is a traveling design research studio (directed by Liam Young and Kate Davies) that has sculpted traditional Ming vases out of mud taken from a radioactive lake in Inner Mongolia. This “lake” is a noxious swamp made of debris created in the production of some of our most desired (and idealized) technology items. In an effort to explore the transnational origin of these items — and, indeed, explore the dark underbelly of their creation — Unknown Fields has made each vase proportionate to the amount of waste produced by the following objects: “a smartphone, a featherweight laptop, and the cell of a smart car battery” (Source). The result is a trio of apocalyptic-like earthenware vessels. Their grim, blackened surfaces are covered in a glistening “glaze” that was created when heavy metals contained in the mud melted in the pottery kiln. The vase materials were so toxic that the sculptors had to wear full-body protection at each stage of production, from on-site collection to creation in their London workshop.
These vases are part of Unknown Fields’ greater project to follow an international supply chain of “rare earth” elements (which are used in the creation of electronics) back to their place of origin: the toxic lake in Mongolia. Kate Davies explains the metaphorical purpose of the vases in this investigative journey:
“The vases are a way to talk about ideas around luxury and desire. How both are culturally constructed collective sets of values that are fleeting and particular to our time. These three ‘rare earthenware’ vessels are the physical embodiment of a contemporary global supply network that displaces earth and weaves matter across the planet.” (Source)
When we hold our cellphones and laptops in our hands, we rarely think about their origins. As Liam Young insightfully points out, “terms like ‘cloud’ of ‘Macbook Air’ imply that our gadgets are just ephemeral objects — and this is the story we all want to believe” (Source). We must not forget that such technologies, despite their polish and glamor, derive from earthly materials processed in factories and shipped across the world. Just as Ming vases were once subjected to an international demand based on their beauty and associations with wealth, Unknown Fields’ creations remind us of how such systems of consumer culture are continuing. “The three vases are presented as objects of desire, but their elevated radiation levels and toxicity make them objects we would not want to possess,” Davies explained. “They represent the undesirable consequences of our materials desires” (Source).
The vases will be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum “What is Luxury?” exhibition, which runs April 25th to September 27th. Accompanying the exhibition is a film by Toby Smith, which documents Unknown Fields’ journey from container ships to factories to the radioactive lake (the trailer can be viewed above). Visit the Unknown Feilds’ website for more explorations of remote landscapes with surprising (and unsettling) intersections with our daily lives. (Via Fast Co.Create)
This giant snaking sculpture is the Funnel Tunnel by artist Patrick Renner. The temporary sculpture was commissioned by Art League Houston and sits on the esplanade across from their building. Renner’s Funnel Tunnel stretches for 180 feet, open as a giant funnel at one end and tapering to a sharp point at the other. The structure was created using steel and reclaimed wood. The ALH explains, “the sculpture reflects the creative people and businesses in the Montrose area, and is the first of its kind in Houston.” [via]
Tucked away in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert is a tiny pool whose location is unknown to the public, identifiable only by guarded GPS coordinates. It was imagined by Austrian artist Alfredo Barsuglia, and is technically open to the public. If you want to swim in it, all you need to do is ask the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in West Hollywood about the longitude and latitude points and obtain the special key to open the pool’s cover.
The four-foot by 12-foot body of water is available for 24 hours to any one person or small party, and you must bring a gallon of water per person to replenish the pool. Its minimalist stylings are painted white and stands out against the sandy and arid terrain. Alone in the desert, it’s an oasis for a weary traveler or nomad. Barsuglia calls it Social Pool, and meant for the swimmer to consider the societal ramifications of this outdoor installation. A description of the project reads:
The work embodies the massive socio-economic changes that have taken place in the last forty years. It thus understands itself as the product of an economy in which privacy and immateriality have been fully commodified… For many a consumer, art is expected to operate according to the principles of the service economy rather than following humanist ideals of intellectual or moral stimulus and education.
Whether or not this pool encourages this deep thought or is simply a well-thought gimmick remains to be seen. (Via Huffington Post)
Some nice work by Scott David Johnson depicting aerial views of crowds and protests. More images can be seen on the Tinlark Gallery website or better yet in person at the gallery if you happen to live in the LA area.
Some great photographs of arrests and car crashes in Mirko Martin’s portfolio. From the looks of it he must work in the movie industry.