Jarmila Mitríková and Dávid Demjanovič are a fascinating artistic duo adding spice back into a traditional form of art-making. They hail from Slovakia and employ a technique called pyrography, which involves burning into plywood and shading the images with wood stains. This particular way of mark making was popular with people mostly during socialism in former Czechoslovakia. A style with is linked with folk art, domestic crafts and cultural traditions, the pair tap into their own history and national identity.
In their hybrid style you can see christian traditions, folklorism, pagan rituals, superstitions, myths, local legends with links to WWII and socialistic history, all with the backround of real slovak scenery. (Source)
Mitríková and Demjanovič play to their strengths of storytelling and creating very strong, personal images. We see very graphic scenes being played out – hunting rituals, exorcisms of some type, sacrificial set ups, and masked people involved in cult-like activities. With titles like Guardians of National Spirituality,Procession With Nazi, Cult of Goddess Morena, Dance Plague and Evacuation of Slovakian Elites, they focus on a time of secret societies and unknown mysterious behavior; they speak of a time when not everything was understandable, or explainable.
Typical for their practise is working with mystification and creating thematic series, where they focus their attention on one subject from our present or history….. when they work with real slovak subjects, using their style of storytelling, they create absurd, comic situations and new contextual reading. (Source)
This talented couple manage to recreate a sense of wonder, secrecy, ambiguity and riddles. They put a contemporary spin on an ancient art of wood burning and telling campfire-stories.
We know texting while driving is really dangerous. But, unfortunately, most of us still probably sneak a peek at their phone every once and awhile. Artist Brian Singer, AKA Someguy, got fed up with all of the Bay area commuters he saw on their phones and decided to take action. While sitting the passengers seat, he snapped photos of all of the people that were distracted driving. He then took it one step further and purchased ad space on a few area billboards and posted his findings. He titled the project TWIT Spotting (Texting While in Traffic). Afterwards, he began a website in order to share more photos and include facts about the dangers of being on your phone while driving.
TWIT Spotting has received an overwhelming response and sparked controversy. It confronts those making these errors on the same roads where they occur, and it starts a conversation about this preventable problem. But, at the same time, the project was criticized as public shaming and an invasion of privacy. Singer sees this as a means to an end, and his goal is enact change by starting a dialogue. In an interview with Vice’s The Creators Project, he wants to expand the project, and explains:
What I would love is for one of the organizations who are passionate about this to help me. We’d focus on impacting teenage drivers. How can we expand this beyond what I can do? What if the AdCouncil got involved or a cell phone company or an insurance company? We might lose the localized aspect and diminished the neighborhood-focused nuances, but it could have a greater effect on behavior overall, which is ultimately the end goal. (Via The Creators Project)
I know what you’re thinking….but, no. This is not Guerrilla Girls making a comeback. This is Leah Beach‘s most recent collection of work. Beach series is about stereotypes and rituals from American society; she used gorilla masks to stand for what we, humans, evolved from. Beach is mainly a film photographer and processes everything herself. Leach Beach is currently a student at the Delaware College of Art and Design.
Photographer Alma Haser has often incorporated origami into her work. However, in her series Cosmic Surgery the origami is brought to the forefront. For the Cosmic Surgery Haser photographs a series of portraits. She next makes multiple prints of the portraits and folds them into complex origami objects. The origami pieces are placed back into the portrait and a photograph is taken of the final composition. Haser mixes the meditative nature of origami and transposes it onto the face of her subject, somehow injecting simple portraits with an esoteric atmosphere.
Graphic designer Peter Saville has designed a white cardboard, flatpack plinth, for sale in a limited edition of 200, the idea being that in today’s age of ‘culture for the masses’ we’re all entitled to choose what merits artistic status.
The exhibition showcases the plinths with ‘work’ by a selection of Saville’s peers and friends including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Thomas Demand, Gavin Turk and Jarvis Cocker, each allowed to place whatever they wish on their plinth. The results vary from the sublime (Douglas Gordon’s pile of ash atop a charred plinth) to the inflated (Cerith Wyn Evans’ helium balloon).
Laura Bird, out of London, makes beautiful Norse-Children’s Book Illustration hybrids by illustrating with pen and ink and paint and even papier-mâché. Her illustrations evoke a bit of whimsy with such toothy faces and happy colors, crossing over from paper in the the three-dimensional world.
I’m not very knowledgeable in the field of commercial photography, but there’s something subtly funny about many of Bryce Duffy’s photographs. In fact, it seems a bit stupid to even call it “commercial” photography vs. just plain old photography. I guess the difference is that you can hire Duffy to create his artwork for you to particular ends. However, in most of his work there’s a sort of looming 70’s kitsch hilarity lurking just under the surface. Burt Reynolds photographed under a giant painting of himself? Genius!
Will Cotton has created a very successful career from painting fluffy cotton-candy cloudscapes and supple naked women. His body of work can be divisive, as it can easily be seen as gimmicky. Beautiful/Decay covered his portraits of Katy Perry a few years ago, and did not hold back any punches. In his more recent work in the past two years, though, I think there are some exciting, if subtle, developments taking place. Sentiments that have always been on the periphery of his work, but ones that I hope will begin to come through more strongly.
First, I will say that I do enjoy Cotton’s aesthetic to begin with. I mean, sorry, but I literally want to lick every part of every painting, and I’m not even into women. They’re delectable, and I know that’s his aim. He certainly isn’t challenging anything with his work; he adds a spoonful of sugar, and then another, and then shovels in more after that to seduce you with succulent sweetness. Maybe I’m even a little disgusted with myself for becoming rapt in his opulent fantasies. That said, I think his work is very apropos of our contemporary circumstance, and damn, does he capture our plushy, overabundant lifestyle with imagination and skill.
Honestly, I think the joke is on us for eating it all up. If anything, Cotton’s practice provides a mirror to reflect the image of the art world, at least some of us totally ready to douse ourselves in oozy sweetness so easy to swallow. I enjoy the beastly undertones, though. In the past two years, Cotton has painted two fish-looking creatures ridden by nude women, and I’m curious to see how this narrative develops. I find these works the most compelling, as the women seem to have more depth in their expressions, as well as an air of command. I think it would be tacky to suddenly have ghoulish creatures descend upon the candy lands and their nymph inhabitants, but the gradual emergence of a threatening presence would be a welcome addition to my eyes.