Sara Angelucci’s intriguing series titled Aviary recalls the past to create strange portraits of birds that are superimposed onto anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite (small, business card sized) photographs. It began by the artist studying the American Victoria area, and she connects its cultural, social, and ecological aspects conceptually to her work.
The nineteenth century was the United States’ colonial era when there was unprecedented expansion, exploration, and an interest in science and art. Family photo albums and commemorating memories were something new, as photography became increasingly common. The collection of cartes-de-visites were like trading cards, and the urge to collect didn’t stop there. People had cabinets of curiosities that included things like taxidermied birds, an interest that lead to the extinction of the passenger pigeon. Angelucci explains in a statement about the work, writing, “Made by combining photographs of endangered or extinct North American birds with anonymous nineteenth century cartes-de-visite portraits—they portray creatures about to become ghosts.”
She goes on to muse:
So how do we read these strange human-birdlike creatures? One could at once see them as manifestations of their time: a hybrid crossover of faith in science with a belief in otherworldly beings. As W. G. Sebald writes in Campo Santo, “[photography is] in essence, after all…nothing but a way of making ghostly apparitions materialize by means of a very dubious magical art.” And, what would it mean to embody another creature: Could one then see, feel, and understand its desire to live? Might we then imagine the Aviary portraits as chimera suspended in a state of empathy, and wonder what our treatment of other sentient beings might be if we could feel what they feel, or see what they see? (Via Observer: Design Observer)
Actress and film-maker Isabella Rossellini (daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini) has a series of campy K-9 bio class instructional videos titled “Green Porno” (though it’s far from being pornographic, really) featuring her acting out the copulations of various insects, crustaceans, and other assorted creatures that you don’t normally think about doing the horizontal tango. “In each one, Rossellini matter-of-factly describes, then demonstrates using extremely low-budget special effects, how – if she were, say, a dragonfly, or a mantis, or a starfish – she would copulate and reproduce with her animal mate. In the film beginning ‘If I were a snail…’, for instance, Rossellini explains: ‘I can withdraw my entire body into my shell, where I can hide my vagina and my penis,’ then gleefully whispers to the camera, ‘I have both!’ and retreats into her giant snail shell made of cardboard.” Read more about her series at Frieze Magazine.
Mark Manders‘ sculptures seem to be driven by a poetic narrative, and the fact the he used to practice the linguistic form of poetry should then come as no surprise. His meticulously constructed figures are assemblages of furniture, metal, human and animal shapes, and other ephemera. Engaged in an ongoing project since 1986 entitled “Self-Portrait as a Building” that has come to define his practice, the form of language mediates his work in that his pieces are structured in a manner that replicates sentences. In this way, he creates physical spaces that mirror his mental spaces. At once fragmented, balanced, poignant, and resonant with the ineffable, Manders’ work evokes a personal poetic sentiment that is meant to provoke the viewer.
New York based artist James Connolly gives old and worn out record covers a new spin. The artist transforms each one by hand painting fun scenes within the given content, turning calm and commercial images into outlandish and other worldly painted depictions. The artist finds these used records in junk shops and revives them through manipulating their covers to become fun, psychedelic, and slightly bizarre. His works transform singing beauties into strange oblong creatures, it melts and merges the flesh of trumpet players, it implants nature where is does not belong (such as trees growing from eye sockets and fungi from faces), it even gives shrimp heat ray vision and adorns a “Top of the Pops” dancer with a ribbon of sausages. Perhaps the most interesting of these works are those which almost act as a play on color theory. Connolly disappears figures into perfectly mixed hues that blend bodies into backgrounds, allowing them to fully be a vehicle for shape and pattern. There is a very fun a vintage feel to these works, even outside the reality that they are, in fact, vintage. There is a hyper specific handling of imagery that does truly speak to the illustration style of the 70s which promotes a certain aspect of fluidity. There is a sort of quiet contemplation, and if you can almost follow the artists train of thought and innocent playfulness. This series seems like an excellent exercise in creativity.
The sculptures of Sayaka Kajita Ganz are gorgeous. Made out of plastic utensils to hangers, these sculptures are done in such a way that they capture the movement of the animals in action. My favorite piece would have to be the sculptures with the running horses, “Emergence”. Her work is so dynamic and depicts such an agility out of something as unconventional as kitchen utensils. Sayaka was born in Japan and currently lives and works in Indiana.