In the project Art Trap, the Korean architecture group Mass Studies group plays with the idea of the Guggenheim Museum as a victim, in a sense, of its own success due to an over-saturation of human movement in a singular space (900,000 visitors annually) around Frank Lloyd Wright’s radical vision of a museum — a quarter-mile-long ramp spiraling around an iconic void. In the proposal for addressing this issue, the museum visitors themselves essentially become the artwork.
While the term “heroin chic” emerged in the 1990s as a droll description of the trendy androgyny and grungy-yet-glamorous look of contemporaneous supermodels, artists Loral Amir and Gigi Ben Artzi present the expression through a literal lens with their series, Downtown Divas.
Comprised of a short film and photographic series, Downtown Divas presents heroin-addicted Russian prostitutes as they don designer clothing and pose for a reimagined fashion spread. Juxtaposing bruised legs, tired eyes, and aloof expressions with luxury materials, trendy ensembles, and elegant silhouettes, the striking photographs appear disjointed and disconcerting. Though aesthetically startling and indicative, they paint a very different picture from the corresponding short film. Comprised of candid interviews, the poignant film surprisingly does not focus on each woman’s hardships; Amir and Artzi sought, rather, to “show a different side of the women and ignore that ‘drug addict’ tag that they carry around” (Bullett). By strictly avoiding questions regarding their drug use or experiences as sex workers, Amir and Artzi are able to instead focus on unseen—and often ignored—aspects of the women’s lives, including recurring dreams, childhood aspirations, lost loves, and favorite colors.
While many applaud Downtown Divas as a critique of the fashion industry and its apparent glamorization of drug addiction, contrary claims of exploitation and questions of the subjects’ ability—or inability—to consent have also emerged. Thus, while seemingly intended as a means to humanize the women, many hold that it instead achieves the exact opposite by exploiting them and taking advantage of their apparent afflictions and unwell mental states.
After viewing the photos and watching the video, what do you think of Downtown Divas? Humanizing social commentary, or exploitative agenda? (via Feature Shoot)
No regrets in Life is a series of human-sized pencil and charcoal portraits of individuals artist Joel Daniel Phillips sees everyday on his street corner in the mission neighborhood of San Francisco. The interesting thing about them is that most are homeless and literally live on that corner. They come from all walks of life, all races young and old. The work Phillips creates allow these folk to become human again and puts them at the forefront so they are the focus of our attention not the shadowy part we look to brush away.
Phillips looks to define the similarities between people of various economic backgrounds and connect them through the unifying element which make us all human. By seeking extremes he captures a poetic narrative. He works similar to an investigative reporter getting up close and personal then taking photos of his subjects. These impressions become muse for powerful drawings. The drawing doesn’t lie and Phillips captures the core of these forgotten citizens with meticulous rendering. As an artist of skill he’s able to keep a record and preserve a moment of our time. In his intuitive statement Phillips talks about the narratives he tries to capture and thinks we cannot know the human race until we draw them.
Artie Vierkant is an artist from San Diego, CA. His work includes paintings, sculpture, and a massive array of digital works. He has even taken Avatar the movie and superimposed it onto a spinning sphere. Most of the works “concern how digital media can constitute fully tangible objects.” His work includes too much to mention. Check out his site and more of his work.
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)
R.M. Fischer’s sculptures are a mix between Shaman totem poles and folk art sex statues.
Dutch painter Joram Roukes’ large scaled oil paintings of collaged images bring together moments of abstraction, figuration, and pop iconography together to create dynamic mutating and morphing figures. His imagery refers to the moral dilemmas one may find himself in, viewing today’s western society. Through experience by participation Joram Roukes reflects not necessarily on an opinion on society’s flaws in his work, but rather observes and reports on typical western phenomena, leaving judgement up to the viewer, who thereby, establish their own position in these matters. (via)