Photographer David Chancellor‘s series Hunter documents South African big game Hunting. Chancellor explains that while hunting safari’s were once particularly fashionable among the leisure class, the activity has since undergone some changes. Land that had once been dedicated to farming and livestock now serve as big game ranches – a place professional hunters can once again kill for sport. Chancellor captures the complex relationship between hunter and hunted, which is rendered even more complex by modernization. He says that the series is “a long term project documenting human/wildlife conflict in all it’s forms, Hunters explores the complex relationship that exists between man and animal, the hunter and the hunted, as both struggle to adapt to our changing environments.”
The works of Julian Feeld — a Paris-based (but internationally-experienced) photographer — are shrouded in mystery. This particular series, titled La Forêt, is especially cryptic. The images immerse you in a dark, wet forest, and at first you may not be entirely sure what you are seeing — or how you feel about it. Gradually, shapes take form: a naked body lying prone on a rock; human legs splayed open amongst the undergrowth; genitals encroached by moss. Some of the images are beautiful, appealing to that romanticized idea of the “natural” body in tandem with nature; others are dark and disturbing, fragmenting the body into an inhuman shape as if it were just another dead tree lying motionless on the forest floor. What Feeld is doing here is an exercise in perception, capturing us in our own moment of subjective interpretation; we have to make sense of these photos, we have to determine whether we feel “peaceful” or “alarmed,” we have to decide if the bodies are part of what we call “Nature,” or separate from it. The critical beauty of Feeld’s work is that it reveals to us our deeply personal signifying practices.
It goes without saying that Feeld’s images are much different than your typical nude photographs. Speaking to this, Feeld writes: “For La Forêt, I wasn’t interested in taking ‘nudes’ in the classical sense, but rather in creating a sort of chimera, an impossible ‘thing’ using human flesh as the provoking visual element.” The chimera — that mythical hybird with a lion’s head, goat’s body, and serpent’s tail — embodies the sort of categorical ambiguity that Feeld is driving at; the naked bodies in his photographs are so interwoven with the environment that the boundaries defining what is “human,” “nonhuman” (the trees) and inert (the rocks) become obscured. The result is slightly troubling to the imagination, as we so often narcissistically imagine ourselves as separate from the world in which we exist.
The darkness and obscurity of La Forêt comes to a head in its sister film, Le Chien, filmed in collaboration with Feeld’s partner, Mathilde Huron. In the film, a naked man (played by Feeld) scrambles desperately at a dense thicket, panting heavily. Something seems to be barring his entry, but he continues to writhe and push anyways. Feeld explains that this film was inspired by a story told by Huron about her dog, “how she watched it try to dig itself into a giant pile of wood and debris, seeking death, pushing itself into the next world.” Like the photographs, Le Chien troubles the idea of what is “human”: this man is behaving like an animal bent on completing an unknown objective. The audio track is similarly disturbing, in that it sounds like a multiplicity of human voices panting, gasping, and overlapping in different octaves. The result of both La Forêt and Le Chien is an indescribable uncertainty; a visceral, pre-intellectual state wherein we must make meaning — or accept that there is none.
Grainy, dreamlike images from Rob Simons. In addition to being a photographer, he also had a collection of his stories, Things Kept Burning, published in September 2006. He also collaborated with German director Werner Herzog on the script for Rescue Dawn. He also used to be an English Professor at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. Basically, he’s pretty talented.
In case you haven’t heard, the new, limited edition book-format B/D will be specially themed moving forward! Each issue will cohesively incorporate a chosen theme within all aspects of the book– from editorial, to featured artists, to the design and layout of the mag itself.
Here’s the best part: we wanted to open up the forum to all of you devoted readers! If we pick yours, we will send you one of our new books with your theme free of charge!
Some ideas us here at B/D have come up with are “Art & Commerce,” “Digital Domains,” “Rules are Made to be Broken,” to name a few. The themes you choose should be open enough to encapsulate a wide variety of contemporary expressions, but no so loose that just about anything could go into it. Examples of things that are too loosy goosy: “Figurative Painting,” “Artists of 2009,” “Skulls,” things that are way too specific: “Artists that use root beer as paint,” “Performance art in Central Park,” “Guys that incorporate mustaches into their imagery.”
You get the idea- so send away, we’re excited to hear from you! Please leave your ideas for book themes in the comments section of this post.
Thanks to everyone that came out to the Beautiful/Decay & Insight 51 sample sale on Friday and Saturday. Both days were filled with eager shoppers who were anxious to get a good deal and hang with us for two sun drenched california days. Here are some highlights …
Everyone loves a good sample sale where one can find those rare one off samples that you can’t get in stores. Apparently Cousin It got wind of it and came through to find the perfect surfin safari outfit.
If you don’t want to shout “FUCK CHEVRON & TEXACO” at the end of watching Crude I’ll give you a dollar. I’m disgusted by yet another example of greedy corporate companies taking advantage of the innocent and the poor. Okay I’m done venting. Here is what Crude is about.
Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet. The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.