Helmut Smits is proof that you don’t need a larger than life idea to create thought provoking and powerful work. From a kiddie pool fountain (pictured above) to a snow man carved out of carrara marble (pictured after the jump), Helmut takes everyday objects, makes a few minor tweaks, and creates iconic work that makes you think “why didn’t I think of that?”
If you’ve ever been in a mostly empty mall, you know how strange it can feel to walk among a space that’s only half alive. But what about when a mall is completely abandoned? That’s even more surreal. As more and more of these once-booming retail centers close, the Dead Malls Enthusiast Facebook group has mapped many of them throughout America. Adventurous photographers have captured the aftermath of of these departed spaces.
Many of these abandoned malls were built in the 1970’s and 1980’s, and it shows. The interiors and decor look dated, tacky, and claustrophobic compared to the open-air shopping that’s popular today. Some have fared better structurally than others. Photographs depict buildings that’ve been closed for years and have demolished ceilings and broken glass. Many of the malls have dead plants that have long since lost their leaves.
These abandoned places are apocalyptic and frightening. But at the same time, they pique our curiosity and we wish were there exploring for ourselves. (Via Buzzfeed)
Victoria Williams, Valley State Prison for Women, Chowchilla, California.
Anonymous , Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, Ionia, Michigan.
James Bowlin, United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.
Anonymous Backdrop Painted in State Correctional Facility, Otisiville, New York.
Photographer Alyse Emdur offers a fascinating look into the world of prisoner portraiture in her ongoing project Prison Landscapes. If you aren’t familiar with the concept, visitation rooms of penitentiaries have backdrops where friends and family can get pictures taken of/with the inmate to commemorate the time they spent together. Often, these backgrounds are idyllic landscapes that offer the inmate a moment to emotionally escape their sentence. Emdur’s series is two-fold; It features inmates posing in front of these faux scenes, as well as the rooms that the giant paintings inhabit.
There’s a stark and ironic contrast between the prisoner-painted backdrops and the rest of their interiors. “Prison visiting room portraits are constructed to intentionally leave out the reality of prison. The aim of my project is not to be an authority on that which is left out, but to rather make the artifice visible. Although the paintings on the backdrops represent freedom, they are vehicles to control the representation of prisons and prisoners.” Emdur explains to Featureshoot.
To obtain the some of the portraits seen here, Emdur spent years corresponding with inmates. “My role was to document a system that I did not have physical access to. I did this by asking those with access, to send me their own photographs,” she says. The limitation of her available sources adds to the institutional critique of prisons that are inherent within the scope of this project. (Via Featureshoot)
I found the work of Maria Lamar during my weekly look through of the B/D Flickr Pool. I love how Maria’s drawings are delicate, vague, figurative and abstract all at the same time! Make sure to join the B/D Flickr Pool. You never know who we’re going to post next!
Tania Scheglova and Roman Noven, based in the Ukraine, are frequent collaborators, especially in the realm of fashion photography. They also work together on more personal material as well, and often post the results to Synchrodogs, a website they share. Perhaps due to a lingering Cold War sensibility or some other intangible, Eastern Europe maintains a dark, unknown quality. Full of strong emotion and isolated coldness, the photographs created by these two perfectly illustrate such atmosphere, reminding us how easy it is to get lost sometimes.
These incredibly realistic birds are not alive – surprisingly they’re only paper models. In fact, artist Johan Scherft out of only paper, glue, and paint. He models each bird’s unique shape on his computer than constructs and paints the rest by hand. While the fold-and-glue-tabs model provides each bird with their distinctive body shape, the realism is in Scherft’s careful painting. He says of the painting, “For this part, I take the most time. With very fine brushes, I try to achieve the most realistic effect in color and detail. I use watercolors or gouache paint. It’s always an exciting moment once the template has been painted to assemble the bird and see what the result is.” [via]
Dually based in both Los Angeles and New York, photographer Dan Eckstein is no stranger to the inescapable traffic of a bustling metropolis. While travelling across Rajasthan’s highways and byways during a trip in 2011, however, he noticed a striking addition to the thoroughfare: highly adorned, technicolor trucks. Inspired by these shimmering “goods carriers,” Eckstein opted to create his series and book, Horn Please: The Decorated Trucks of India.
In addition to vivid paint and ornately-inscribed text—including the phrase “Horn Please,” found ubiquitously on India’s trucks and designated “the mantra of the Indian highway” by Eckstein—the trucks’ exteriors are encrusted with gleaming lights, images of deities, intricate patterns, and even portraits of pop culture staples. While the trucks boast impressive façades, their interiors are just as embellished; given the exhaustive hours and long journeys innate to this line of work, the drivers seek to be comfortable and, thus, decorate their cabins according to their unique tastes.
While highly individual, the trucks also speak to a specific culture and its highly distinctive aesthetic:
What Eckstein produced is a singular portrait of the subcontinent–distinctly Indian, and a vividly colored reflection of this country in flux between tradition and modernity. Horn Please serves as a psychedelic guide to design in India, from the hand-painted lettering covering the trucks, to the mindboggling use of color, to the specifically Indian patterns and motifs, and a showcase of the visual vernacular of the subcontinent.
Beautiful and jubilant, the decorated trucks of India are truly a feast for the eyes. (Via Slate)
Be sure to pick up your own colorful copy of Horn Please from Powerhouse or Amazon!