“Found antique objects and miniature tintype photos form the emotional core of several works, juxtaposing the musty aura of a dusty attic with smooth, delicate ethereal forms, computer rendered yet exquisitely hand-crafted.”
Brooklyn via Russia artist Stanislav Ginzburg‘s Curiophyla is a series of staged photographs of original sculpture placed within specific, relevant mise en scène environs. The sculptures, beautiful references to cellular anatomy that incorporate emotionally charged vintage (and faux-vintage) tintype portraiture, take on a unique appeal when positioned amongst their ethereal settings. The overall aesthetic perfectly captures an elemental, organic feel (moss, insects, blood, etc.), while the photographic elements within the works offer a distinctly human connection. By reducing things to their most basic, cellular level, Ginzburg illustrates a deep connection between past and present. So beautiful.
Lotta van Droom is an Ireland-based (Germany-born) photographer whose otherworldly images explore the landscapes of bodies and dreams. Inspired by artists such as Andy Warhol and Francisco de Goya, Lotta’s style is a beautiful mix of surrealism and romanticism. Characterizing her work are unnatural portraits and dream-like scenes, such as a man with hands smothering his face, and a woman with ghostly, skeletal wings and a collection of spherical eyes. Lotta’s nude photographs are similarly unconventional; draped in sheets resembling funeral shrouds, her mysterious subjects twist and struggle against their coverings, like resurrected beings, or butterflies about to erupt from a cocoon. When I asked Lotta how she would identify her style, she explained:
“I think my photographic style is surreal […]. Many of my photos are the result of stories, formed in my mind. They are little excerpts of my thoughts which I try to reflect this way. It’s not important for me to show reality. I want to show my world of fantasy and wishes.”
By not striving to portray the material real-world, Lotta’s goal is to inspire the imagination and trigger alternative perceptions. Her nude photographs, for example, are not about objectified sex and desire, but instead an exploration of the body’s architecture. “The human body is an outstanding construction and it would be sad if nudity is only associated with sexuality,” she writes. “The sheets are a medium to hide the absolute nudity to create an unreal character. The form becomes perfected or alienated, so the bodies look like sculptures.” By obscuring the faces, Lotta allows us to perceive the divine symmetry and strength of the human form.
The surrealist Dreamworld photos likewise stimulate the mind. By altering reality, Lotta uncovers a hidden emotional world that exists inside all of us. Just like the strange and beautiful images we see in our sleep, her photographs encourage subjective interpretation. In “Mitternachtstheater,” for example, some may see a death, while others, a resurrection; the character in “sector absorption” may be seen as frightening, impassive, or melancholic. This is Lotta’s intention, as she explains: “I hope when people look at my work, they could descend into their own dreamworlds.”
Angel Olsen has one of those rare voices that deserves to be heard. You might actually have already heard it and didn’t even know it from her work with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and The Cairo Gang, but when I first heard her debut Strange Cacti a while back, I was instantly mesmerized by her unique voice. She self-describes it as, “Never changing, always changing” which makes perfect sense after listening to her newest album Half Way Home from Bathetic Records. I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions regarding what she’s learned from being on the road, as well as how she came up with the cover art for her new record.
In regards to the cover art for Half Way Home… “The cover work for the album began as a photograph of a girl looking out into the mountains from a high point. It was taken from the top of Knapps Castle, just outside of Santa Ynez. I asked Steve Krakow/Plastic Crimewave to make a drawing based upon that image. I’ve always been a fan of his magazine, Galactic Zoo Dossier, and his column in The Chicago Reader “The secret history of chicago music”. He’s been a friend for years and I thought if anyone should work on this, it should be him.” As for why she didn’t use a photo… “I didn’t want to use a photo of myself in the end. I felt that I shouldn’t be framed this time around, something else should be.”
Gideon Chase is a 25 year old artist who currently lives and works in San Francisco. His gouache paintings are consistently clever and always laced with humor. Chase frequently frames a situation of objects in the midst or aftermath of an event. These occurrences are fantastical, arbitrary, and unceasingly fascinating. His images of Medieval Armor clad figures seemingly out of time and performing mundane acts allow for a light hearted reflection on our past, present, and future.
Tiffany Trenda is a performance artist on a mission to awaken us from a technological slumber. Wearing a synthetic suit imbedded with forty small 2.6 inch LED cell phone screens, she asks people to interact with her, touching and pressing the monitors all over her body. Citing fellow performance artist Valie ExportTap and Touch Cinema as an inspiration, she examines our ease and familiarity with having devices, gadgets, screens and monitors all around us, in her new work Proximity Cinema.
The word ‘touch’ has a completely different meaning for today. Originally ‘touch’ meant human-to-human contact. Now we think of our smart phone, iPad or tablet. So, today, touch refers to human-to-screen contact. (Source)
Confronting people to enter her personal space, and destroying normal social limits, she highlights the boundaries between man and machine; natural and digital, and how willing humans are to accept the influence technology has over us. Trenda not only looks at how we use technology, but also how we understand our own identities through technology.
In her body of work she becomes the digitized version of the human body and her actions replicate those of a computer. Trenda creates a platform for questioning the boundary of where the digital impression and the physical body begin and end. The viewer is physically and visually immersed in the process of how the psyche evolves to relate to the screen (LCD, television, cinema or a computer). (Source)
Trenda’s installations and performances are a fresh and very real look at how easy it is to be overwhelmed and overpowered by technology. She reminds us to reflect on how integrated technology is becoming – it is not far from becoming part of our very skin. Perhaps her futuristic bondage-looking outfit will soon be a part of our wardrobes?
Sometimes artists, through the most simple of interventions, can do something that profoundly sums up how you feel. Justin John Greene has a whole portfolio of pretty goofy paintings, this one is my favorite. I wish I had made it. It was like in the sea of my mirthful misery, the clouds parted, this painting was delivered and elicited a fleeting moment of joy. Also, you can’t beat his ninja-turtle fort tipi replete with Ren & Stimpy dream catchers below.
This week’s images bring us surprising works of beauty, detail, and wit. Sam3 brings a silhouette mural with an innovate use of the fence posts (I’m guessing located in rural Spain) – the piece references the expulsion of the Moors from the Ricote valley in the 16th century. We also have a giant new mural in Poland from Sainer of the ETAM crew. Alexis Diaz also give a new mural, an elephant/octopus creature a week in the making comprised of thousands of detailed brushstrokes. Stenciler DS smartly rebuffs the buffer – after one of his stencils was painted over DS replaces it with a portrait of the “remover man”. David de la Mano‘s is a poetic and carefully detailed mandala-esque piece. Ludo expounds on his theme of contrasting technology and nature with an impressive tulip-rifle mural. Nychos new piece in San Francisco finds a tiger literally jumping out of its skin. Finally, we have an awesome collaboration between artists POSE and Revok that followed their dual exhibit at the Jonathan Levine Gallery.