Chinese artist Li Wei’s photographs defy gravity with himself often at the helm. They are the documentation of reality that involves sometimes-dangerous stunts that the artist says aren’t doctored by computers. Instead, he uses mirrors, wires, acrobatics, and more to give the illusion that people are flying and have transcended above cityscapes.
In a 2012 interview with The Creators Project, Wei says “we are all controlled by someone else. Our thoughts and actions are all controlled by an unseen force.” These images demonstrate an effort to break free of constraints and limitations, and teeter the line between fantasy and reality. Specifically, Wei is talking about the rapid change in China’s economy, but they hold a wider-reaching message. His photographs could be seen as a meditation on our consciousness, hopes, and desires of wanting complete freedom but having to live within the confines of society.
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?”
Molly Landreth’sA Portrait Of Queer life In America started as a simple self-portrait project in 2005 but has since expanded into a national archive and an international collaboration with the GLBT community. Molly’s goal with the series is to create images of her community that she can relate to and to tell new stories not typically represented in conversations about queer life.
Bubi Canal was born in Spain and currently lives in New York City. His lavish photographs are inhabited by whimsical beings free of inhibitions. Surreal childlike notions are presented against stark land and cityscapes. In his own words Canal wishes to highlight “…wishes, dreams, magic and love.” His youthful optimism shines as his striking imagery transports the viewer to a marvelous world all his own. Canal has just opened a solo exhibition entitled Special Moment that runs through March 10th at Munch Gallery NY.
Romulo Sans creates a dramatic aesthetic using political and cultural iconography. Sans’ photographs address issues of dominance, passivity, aggression, capitalism, and sexuality. Also of note are his blends of Western and Eastern imagery, asking viewers to consider the various absurdities within these contexts. Sans’ background in art direction and interest worldwide politics ground his work. These photographs convey Sans’ attempt to understand disparate cultural elements through a visual medium. Originally from Barcelona, Sans spent some formative years in Cuba, where he admittedly watched the Al Jazeera news outlet regularly, as it was one of the only available news outlets.
In September, people visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (NHM) will be able to view North America’s largest collection of ancient Egyptian and Peruvian mummies. Titled Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs, the touring exhibition from The Field Museum in Chicago features over 20 preserved remains ranging as far back as Pre-Dynastic Egypt and Pre-Incan Peru—which means these are some of the oldest discovered mummies in the world. Accompanying the mummies are archaeological artifacts also found in the tombs, such as sarcophagi fragments, limestone canopic jars containing the deceased’s vital organs, and a beautifully fierce double-spouted jar with the face of a jaguar.
In the following statement from the press release, NHM President and Director Jane Pisano explains the exhibition’s goal: “The role of a natural history museum is to serve as a laboratory for the exploration of our natural and cultural pasts, and science is our pathway. Mummies: New Secrets from the Tombs uses modern science to challenge and help to unravel what we know about these ancient peoples and their cultures, and in doing so, offers the world an intensely up-close look at The Field’s preeminent collection of mummies, many of them tucked safely away in vaults for over a century.”
As Pisano remarks, what makes this exhibition exciting (aside from its awe-inspiring collection) is its unique examination of cross-cultural methods of mummification, as well as the specific focus on the individuals occupying the coffins. Mummification is often solely associated with Ancient Egyptian ritual practice, but in fact mummies have been found all over the world. In Peru, mummification began 2,000 years before Egypt. While both cultures’ methods are equally fascinating and ingenious, differences can be traced. In Peruvian mummification, for example, there are signs that the coffins were opened so that food and drink could be replenished; in Egypt, the tombs were meant to be sealed for eternity. In addition, the exhibition also profiles the deceased using information gathered from CT scans and X-rays. Among the mummies is a woman and her child, a brother and sister, and the “Gilded Lady,” a 40-year-old woman from the Roman era.
This is the first time the mummies and their artifacts have left The Field Museum, so be sure to take the opportunity to see this fascinating collection. The show runs from September 18th to January 18th. You can learn more on the NHM’s website.
Milan-born artist El Gato Chimney combines illustration, painting, and street art in a blend of whimsy and surrealism. In his bio, he lists his studies as: “alchemy, ancient and modern art, magic, mirabilia, occultism, popular folklore, primitive art and spiritualism.” Though it might seem like too broad a net, all these influences can indeed be seen in his work.
His illustration is dualistic: brightly colored, they look like pages from some charming, nonsense tale meant for children. Simultaneously, there’s something darker simmering underneath, like the fairy tales of old where women danced in burning shoes and decapitation was nothing more unusual than a particularly large yawn. Occult symbols are sprinkled throughout, and figures are occasionally found in ritualistic poses, like small animals mid-pagan festival.
El Gato Chimney’s bio ruminates on this undertow: “When in front of these works it is impossible not to wonder what hides in the woods, where that road will lead up to, why these beings trust in such a blind way this primitive religion, partly attributable to preexisting cults, partly made up.”
Coke Wisdom O’Neil’s conceptually driven portrait series The Box feels theatrically avant-garde, akin to Sartre’s No Exit, with strong emphasis on “the look”– or, the dilemma of seeing ourselves as objects in other people’s consciousness.
Each photograph was originally shot in a twenty-two foot tall wooden box, constructed by the artist himself and set up in a variety of different public spaces from New York City to Texas. Such an unnaturally large empty platform allowed curious subjects the freedom to perform when shooting; however, ironically, it also has a tendency to trap when printed– evoking a doll-like sense of display, especially when collected back-to-back on a gallery wall, suggesting “the look” is relative to not only our minds, but also most apparent in photography or art itself.