Though it might look like any other Polish chapel from the outside, the Kaplica Czaszek chapel sets itself apart: behind a humble pair of wooden doors, it contains the bones of thousands. After visiting shallow grave sites commemorating the fallen soldiers and civilians killed in the Silesian Wars, the Thirty Years’ War, plagues, and cholera, a local priest named Vaclav Tomasek collected and cleaned skeletal remains, embedding them in the chapel walls.
Constructed between 1776 and 1804, the building’s architecture stunningly deconstructs the human skeleton; skulls and leg bones are meticulously arranged over the ceilings and walls, while other bones are hidden behind a trapdoor and kept in a crypt. The repetitive patterns that emerge from a single human bone laid out a thousand times over serves to remind us of our connectedness; while each individual femur or cranium stands in for a deceased individual, it takes on a deeper, more universal meaning as part of this expertly-constructed whole.
Within this celebration of oneness, Tomasek set apart strange and unusual bones, placing them on the church altar. Alongside the skull of a mayor and the chapel founder, sits a skull morphed by syphilis, one of a rumored giant, and a few penetrated by bullets. In this way, the structure daringly elevates the macabre—and those who suffered from uncommon maladies—to the spiritual level of relics left behind by local religious and political leaders.
Within the context of the church and its representations of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ, the remains offer a potent juxtaposition between the spiritual and the corporeal. Visitors cannot escape this powerful reminder of mortality, but if they so wish, they are poignantly invited to consider the possibility of salvation and eternal life. (via Lost at E Minor and Smithsonian Magazine)
With funny fake titles that satirize the real thing, Harland Miller paints a colorful collection of paperbacks which function as a shrine for predictable literary personalities from Waugh to Hemingway . . . and he doesn’t stop there. He also gets personal, implicating his own self-titles into the mix, adding a whole other autobiographical subtext that is both playfully light and familiarly bold.
ChloeOstmo‘s photography installation “Falling” is art as an active verb. Ostmo re-inserts the three-dimension quality of falling into what could have been merely a flat series of photos of a woman tumbling down a flight of stairs. The effect is similar to that of glitch art, except wrought in realistic rendering.
“My work is broadly concerned with the negotiation between a three-dimensional original event or object and its two-dimensional copy,” Ostmo says in an artist’s statement. “I am interested in the transformations that occur and their impact upon our perception and understanding of space.”
Ostmo’s installation doesn’t seem to only evoke a different perspective regarding the three-dimensional and two-dimensional; it seems to call up the fact that our attention can only be held by one part of a whole at a time. By breaking up the act of falling into various pieces and smaller photographs, Ostmo’s installation almost mimics the way we parse reality, reducing it into manageable pixels that eventually form the entirety of an event.
“Working predominantly with photography and video, I am interested in the spatial possibilities and generative potential of the photographic print as a complex ‘material’ that has the ability to confront the viewer as an object in the present as much as an image of some past event.”
Polly Morgan’s freezer is not stacked with your typical content. It is comprised of dead animals in their primary state. She is a taxidermist, so that explains more. She mixes art and taxidermy to create beautiful and disturbing installations. Based in the up and coming art disctrict in East London she is collecting corpses of dead animals and arranging them to compose subtle pieces. Most often birds are the center of the pieces: birds and pigs, birds and a balloon, birds and a deer.
Behind the morbid scenes there is a desire to express the triumph of life over death. Something dead can, in a context become suddenly beautiful, poignant and touching.
Her inspiration is instinctive, directly coming from the animals. Scraping the skin from the flesh, the animals are a material and not dead corpses. Random people send her the animals they find dead on the road, always by accident. So the array of species she collects is large. Not interested in being a “classic” taxidermist, she wants to make her work more pop and modern. She has succeeded in creating a world of her own where a tiny bird sits delicately on a toothbrush or a nest of hungry baby birds are screaming from a deer’s stomach.
Polly Morgan’s most recent work has been featured in Berlin along with artists Bruce Nauman, Tim Noble & Sue Webster and is currently displayed in Washington DC’s National Museum of Women in the Arts until September 2015.
The artist known only as strng on Flickr creates technically impressive and visually compelling collages. He combines imagery from human, animal, natural, and mechanical worlds into one image. Elements that don’t seem to have much in common become a part of each other, and strng illustrates these startling images in such a way as for them to appear natural or ordinary. Part of this involves strng’s aesthetic, which is resonant with the pages of anatomy and biology textbooks.
We wanted to take a moment and share some of these amazing (and horrifying) photographs that The Atlantic posted of the Japan earthquake and Tsunami. Our friends out there are still putting back the pieces and we want you to join us in sending lots of positive vibes and wish them a speedy recovery. Since we’re in a “Sending” mood why don’t we also reach into our wallets and send a few bucks to the Red Cross to help in the relief. You can fill out a quick form on the Red Cross site or just text 9099 to make a $10 donation. More photos after the jump.
Harma Heikens produces these utterly amazing sculptures of children. Delving into the playfulness of popular culture and the tempting powers of advertising, Heikens “calls forth visions of a befouled world terrorized by economic and sexual exploitation.” What she delivers is pornographic and cynical, and simultaneously comforting in their reference to saints and martyrdom. These children communicate a grim, post-apocalyptic reality, one in which “the world has deteriorated or one in which we, the viewers, have lost our innocence.”
Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg‘s project, Stranger Visions, is a wonderful mix of science and art. Dewey-Hagborg turns a poetic attention to the seemingly innocuous artifacts of life: a hair, chewed gum, a cigarette butt. Beyond sight, though, the DNA remains of each unique person inhabits these “artifacts”. She picks up these remains up throughout Brooklyn and brings them to a nearby biology lab. Dewey-Hagborg extracts the DNA from the object, then information from the DNA. She runs the information through a program she has written herself that is able to determine physical features such as eye color, hair color, gender, nose width, and so on. That information is then exported to a 3D color printer to create a sculptural portrait of the unwitting donor. [via]