Socialist-era monuments dot the countryside of the lands that once made up Yugoslavia, many of them World War II and concentration camp memorials. The majority of the the monuments were commissioned by then president Josip Broz Tito during the 1960’s and 70’s. Photographer Jan Kempenaers toured the countries that once made up Yugoslavia to document the monuments in this series of photographs. With the fall of socialism and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the monuments were largely abandoned. The monuments’ neglect is apparent and contrasts severely against their futuristic aesthetic.
The grouping of monuments have not only been abandoned by visitors but also their meaning and symbolism. They ask serious questions regarding the nature of monuments in the sculptural tradition. What is a memorial when it no longer memorializes anything?
Jake Chapman was born in Cheltenham and Dinos Chapman in London. Their father was a British art teacher and their mother an orthodox Greek Cypriot. They were brought up in Cheltenham but moved to Hastings where they attended a local comprehensive before attending the University of East London‘s Art college – then atGreengate House, Plaistow – and then enrolling at The Royal College of Art, when they worked as assistants to the artists Gilbert and George. They began their own collaboration in 1992. The brothers have often made pieces with plastic models or fibreglassmannequins of people. An early piece consisted of eighty-three scenes oftorture and disfigurement similar to those recorded by Francisco Goya in his series of etchings, Disasters of War (a work they later returned to) rendered into small three-dimensional plastic models. One of these was later turned into a life-size work, Great Deeds Against the Dead, shown along with Zygotic Acceleration, Biogenetic, De-Sublimated Libidinal Model (Enlarged x 1000) at the Sensation exhibition in 1997.
Jen Davis has been photographing herself continuously for over a decade. Her series of self-portraits have resulted in a book called ‘11 Years‘ and is a powerful exploration of identity, beauty and body image. Picking up the camera when she was an undergraduate in 2002, she put herself in front of the lens to kick start her creativity.
‘For a long time I was taking photographs and they were always to do with the body, or loneliness, or desire,’ she says. ‘But I was never really comfortable putting myself in front of the camera.’ (Source)
Her photos are at once deeply personal, but still widely universal. These themes she addresses are ones we all know: intimacy, love, insecurity. We see Davis in moments that are intensely private – sitting on her bed fresh from the shower, towel around her head, buttoning up her cardigan; lying in bed in the arms of a lover, looking forlorn and uneasy (Fantasy No 1, 2004). She captures such truthful, non-embellished moments – like the fight to button up clothes that are too small for us, that we can’t help but empathize with her struggle. Davis manages to dispel any ideas of being a victim of obesity. Davis goes on to say:
“In the work what I kept returning to is: What is love? Am I loveable? Can someone find me attractive?… At home with mundane surroundings, I treated the camera as if it were my lover—the camera desiring me, providing me the glimpse of what was missing in my life…..In a way what I was doing was seducing myself. I couldn’t necessarily identify with the idea of someone seeing me as ‘beautiful,’ but I could accept that the pictures that I created and inhabited were. It was a very contradictory experience.” (Source)
Ironically after losing 7 stone, Davis has felt less inclined to turn the camera on herself. To find out what she is photographing now, go here.
Mymo of My Monsters is an artist currently working in Berlin and New York.
From her about page: “Mymo’s works are conceived using methods of free association similar to Surrealistic procedures; that is to say, the figures have the closest possible relationship to their surroundings.”
‘Wow’ is usually the first thing I say when I look at Matthew Porter’s photographs. Big, bold, and wildly imaginative, Porter fabricates iconic images straight out of a teenage boy’s day-dream. All critiques aside, it’s pretty cool to see a muscle car flying through the air, no? His latest show “High Lonesome” runs through January 23rd at M+B in LA, so hurry up and check it out!
Telling the story of a young man – the author himself – and his attempts to fly with different kinds of self-made aeroplanes and wings, the photographic series “Sacred bird” by Finnish photographer Janne Lehtinen presents a fictional narrative based on autobiographical facts. Lehtinen – the son of a renowned glider pilot – tries to relive the experiences of his father while himself attempting to leave the ground behind. His numerous efforts to oppose the force of gravity never come to anything, however, and the giant leap into infinity never occurs. While the models he conceives are extravagant, surreal and impressive in their construction, they are nevertheless destined to fail, and remain purposeless, anachronistic reinventions of the human-powered prototypes which marked the pioneering days of aviation. –Dominique Somers
Katherine Akey’s works traces the delicacies of life on this planet in various ways. Through photograms and photographs, she narrates the whimsical beauty of nature. These smokey, sparkling greys are from a body of work titled Aurora, where she captured the mysterious movement of the night sky. Her penchant for unearthing, discovering, and a curiosity about the sacred aspects of voyage have imbedded in her a unique way of viewing the world, one she projects masterfully from glass lens to gelatin. Outfitting herself to visit Svalbard in the next year, she will no doubt deliver a new body of work that is even more sophisticated and compelling.
Akey is a beautiful writer, and her this excerpt from her blog shows her motivations and what led her to commit to the upcoming Arctic Circle Residency in Svalbard. Beautiful and compelling, it reads like poetry:
“These questions and their associated emotional valences could be analyzed using the machines and tools of a scientist; I choose, however, to use the events of the past, the texts left behind, the myths generated, and, hopefully, my own foray into those parts of the world as material for art making. My work also confronts the reality that adventure as we have long thought of it is just about snuffed out. Astronauts go to the safety of space stations instead of venturing into the infinite universe, and robots have taken the place of humans to explore the dusty surface of Mars. The ambitions of so many of these men who went north to explore were complicated and compelling; what drove them to embark, what kindled the hope that kept them alive, and what they give credit to for their success once they return are all completely different things. The North Pole itself is elusive and misleading; there’s a geographic north pole, a magnetic north pole, the celestial North Pole, and a northern pole of inaccessibility. The Arctic, unlike the Antarctic, is a frozen ocean, not a continent; there’s no land mass, just sea ice. The mythic explorer hero is also a foggy, misleading concept; these men were egotistical, driven by ambition, and many of them died miserable, needless deaths alone. All of my interests and works come out of this deep respect for the Human; I see it so clearly in these fevered moments of triumph-cum-horror, like the World Wars or the Golden Age(s) of exploration.”