The artist Jess Riva Cooper’s Viral Series imagines the human body overtaken by malevolent plant life; like the bodies of the dead, her ceramic women busts are infected with ivy, flowers, and insects. Inspired by the Hebrew figures of the golem and the dybbuk, the viral females occupy a space between life and death; like golem, they are anthropomorphic beings brought to life by human (as opposed to divine) hands, but they are also seemingly suffocated by roots that harken back to the cleavage of the ominous dybbuk, a departed soul that fixes itself to the body of a living person. The word “dybbuk,” in fact, arrises from the Hebrew verb for “sticking from the root.”
Unlike the figures of Yiddish folklore, Cooper’s busts are female, modeled after the seductive sculpted faces of Classical Greece. Closing resembling the great alluring forms like Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Cnidus, these figures abandon the feminine piety in favor of an ecstatic sexuality; serpentine vines crawl across their tender cheeks, and their mouths open wide to give birth to lush roses or to allow passage to fertile swarms of scarab beetles. Their eyes appear to roll back in sensual pleasure; their teeth gnaw on thick roots.
Cooper’s series seems to draw on ancient and Judeo-Christian mythology to construct a cohesive and elaborate narrative of female creative power; these women represent death and birth in equal measure. As the bodies of the dead are consumed by insects, they ultimately give rise to blossoming flora. This strange and natural cycle of rebirth serves as a metaphor for the artist’s beloved Detroit, where buildings and homes succumb to financial ruin and are eventually overgrown with feral plant life. Take a look. (via Colossal and HiFructose)
Photographer Millicent Hailes recently completed a two-month stay in Los Angeles where she traversed some of the city’s finest strip clubs. “You can find the erotic anywhere, you just have to look for it,” Hailes told Dazed, and her journey included spots where Courtney Love danced pre-grunge era.
Hailes was on the hunt for a club that breaks away from the chauvinistic, clichéd joints that we’re used to seeing. She found a string of clubs where women hold the power, prostitution is low, and the women actually enjoyed themselves. In a place called Cheetahs, Hailes explains, “The girls each had a different style of dance and look, and each danced to a song of their choice,” she says. “It felt a lot more personal, and it was a lot of fun.”
To pay tribute to Cheetahs, Hailes began a project that mirrors the separation between dancer and customer. She placed a sheet of plastic between herself and model Nadia Lee. “The plastic sheeting is a metaphorical barrier between the model and the audience. She is pressed up against it, but you can’t fully see her or touch her,” Hailes explains to Dazed Digital. “I wanted the shoot to seem very ‘bodily’, and by having the body pressed against the plastic and capturing the breath creating a fog over the images, it feels a bit intrusive, but also has a distance because of the sheeting.” (Via Dazed)
Swiss Artist Zimoun creates sound sculptures and installation art that is a little bit strange. Equal parts raw, industrial materials; equal parts mechanical elements, he creates rooms full of what seem like living and breathing objects. He combines cardboard boxes, plastic bags, old furniture, packaging tape, wires, light tubes, cotton balls and motors to transform a space into something very unexpected.
His low-fi sound architecture follows on in John Cage’s footsteps, an artist he says he thought a lot about when he was younger. Zimoun explains his fascination with combining sound, strong visual elements and bringing obsolete technology to life:
I’m interested in a mix of living structures on the one hand, and control about decisions and details on the other. A combination of structures continuously generating or evolving by chance, chain reactions or other generative systems, and a specifically delimited and contained space in which these events are allowed to happen.
By drawing our attention to these often over-looked, or under-valued materials, Zimoun forces us to examine the nature in industrial materials, and the industrial in nature.
His sound sculptures are a combination of clean modernist structures, and the forces of chaos reacting against each other. We see how the patterns and rhythms of machines slowly change, the longer they are allowed to run. Like Cage, Zimoun allows a great deal of chance affect his work. He lets his mechanical sculptures run for an indeterminable amount of time, allowing the space to become a self-governing, organic space. Zimoun’s art very easily blurs the lines between nature and man/machine.
Dutch painter Philip Akkerman has 200 or more self-portraits on his website. They are extremely varied stylistically but almost always share a really unsettling vibe that’s hard to articulate. In the paintings, Akkerman is usually glaring; eyebrows and lips turned downward. What’s most intriguing in these works is Akkerman’s evolution over time. He’s experimented with myriad different styles and techniques and grown as a painter, and his various transformations are all laid out in these works. Not his glare, though. That’s remained somewhat of a constant. (via)
There is never a dull moment in Jeremy Bailey’s performances – I’d like go ahead the deliveries of his stand-up/software demos/karaoke sessions as the funnier “artistic” Steve Jobs. In “The Future of Theatre” debuting tonight, he plays “this hopeless and foolish slave trying desperately to conjure his machine to do increasingly absurd tasks of questionable use. Computers are the new chauvinist modernists.”
Export to World (Linda Kostowski and Sascha Pohflepp) seeks to comment ironically on the design and production of merchandise in virtual worlds. At Ars Electronica in Linz, retail space on Marienstrasse was temporarily converted into a shop like those found in Second Life. Large scale display ads showed what’s for sale: custom-made or purchased virtual objects that shoppers could buy at a price determined daily by the current Linden dollar/euro exchange rate. Instead of the acquired object suddenly appearing in the purchaser’s inventory, though, the proud owner received a a two-dimensional paper representation of it which he/she could manually fit together into a three-dimensional object on site. The final results are paper representations of digital representations of real objects, including all the flaws that copying entails.