Her toes were broken when she was a kid, then constantly bound to make them smaller until she couldn’t walk straight anymore. At the age of 88, Zhang Yun Ying is among the last witnesses of China’s infamous tradition of foot binding.
It has been recently brought to attention by a British photographer Jo Farrell who is already known for documenting endangered traditions and cultures. Her ongoing project “Living History” captures the lives of some of the last remaining women in China with bound feet. According to Farrell, in the past year alone, three women she’s been documenting have passed away so she feels it is “imperative to focus on recording their lives before it is too late”.
Tiny feet (with the ideal being no bigger than 3 to 4 inches) were once considered to be the symbol of beauty and social status. Young women would crush and bind their feet hoping to marry into money. Concealing the bound foot from men’s eyes also instigated an erotic approach towards it. Even though the inhumane custom was banned in 1912 by Chinese government, it was still practiced behind closed doors.
Apart from showcasing the shocking photos to the public, Farrell wants to make a point that modern women are not so different from the elders she works with:
“In every culture there are forms of body modification that adhere to that cultures’ perception of beauty. From Botox, FGM, breast augmentation, scarring and tattooing, to rib removals, toe tucks and labrets.”
Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi uses a pretty unique technique in his work. For years now, he’s created custom ant farms with colored sand and used the natural lifecycle of ants to manipulate images rendered with the sand. His work using national flags is some of his best. Soviet banners assembled into a pyramid. Japanese Hinomaru fractured by tunneling ants. The strong symbolism inherent in banners and flags lends the work a lot of power. The ants show us that even things that once seemed unshakable are susceptible to decay and eventual ruin, even at the hands of seemingly tiny, insignificant forces. (via)
Beautiful/Decay has partnered with premiere website building platform Made With Color to bring you another exclusive artist feature. Each week we join forces to bring you some of the most exciting artists and designers who use Made With Color to create their clean and sleek websites. Made With Color doesn’t just help artists create gorgeous websites but allows them to do so in a few minutes without having to touch a line of code. This week we’re happy to bring you the mixed media collages of Tim Furey.
The work of New Jersey based illustrator Tim Furey is full of texture, shapes, neon colors and best of all aliens! Combining a wide array of media in his collages Furey creates psychedelically hued interiors, still lives, and narratives that will hint at the story without giving away the plot. Inexpensive craft paper meets holographic stickers and crayon scribbles create images that are as primal as they are futuristic. The result is a hypercolored world where aliens mingle with mankind to create unknown future worlds.
The people of the United States alone toss out millions of plastic bottles every hour, and in a year, enough plastic film to shrink wrap Texas (which would be both a hilarious and horrifying feat.) Everyone knows it’s important to recycle, but it’s often hard to realize the consequences of forgetting about one little bottle; maybe we should consider not buying this stuff in the first place. (I drink out of the tap all the time, heck, I’d drink out of the hose.) Without getting on a soapbox, the following artists have made powerful statements about the ways in which we waste…. by re-using materials that would otherwise be thrown away, and removing paper and plastics completely from the recycling loop…. as even the act of recycling uses massive amounts of energy.
Jordan Westre (Living Couch) is a Canadian artist who creates beautiful and critically engaging collages from amalgams of modern and vintage print media. While Westre’s works are all highly unique and nuanced, many of them share recurring imagery, including landscapes, space travel, war, and the feminine body. From a broader aesthetic perspective, her collages are seamless and evocative; Westre has a brilliant ability to weave together seemingly disparate images in a holistic way. The more you look, however, the more a deep — and often dark, or disconcerting — social commentary emerges, one that examines cross-generational anxieties regarding the state of society and its relationship to human sexuality.
Westre’s artistic process begins with a self-impelled assembly of aesthetically-pleasing images. As she explains: “I don’t set out with a definite vision, I just flip through magazines […] or books with vintage photographs or illustrations, [and] pull out anything that might serve as a good subject, background, or element.” From there, she lays everything down and seeks compelling combinations — “and that’s where the inspiration comes about.” Currently, she uses liquid glazes on canvas or canvas board, but is planning on experimenting with hot and cold-pressed papers and spray adhesives.
When it comes to the meaning behind her work, Westre says that most of it unconsciously materializes as “anxiety-riddled observation[s]” of society. The collages depict the world in an oscillating utopic/dystopic state; or indeed, as an oft-idealized place that is festering at its center. In Westre’s words: “[My work is] grappling with the awareness that a lot of our society and the path we’re on is utterly fucked — for lack of a better phrase — while we’re all smiling and laughing and consuming […]. Polish & the rot beneath.”
Westre also brings human sexuality into these critiques, exploring what she identifies as the “ultimate vulnerability and ultimate power” of sex. Desire — which is represented here by eroticized images of the female body — vacillates between states of seduction, submission, and destruction. It is unpredictable; hence why it might contribute to Westre’s fear of a world slipping into chaos. Check out Living Couch for more of her incredible work.
You can’t help but feel like you’re the last person on the face of the Earth when you look at the blurry, skewed and foreboding work by American photographer Todd Hido. Well known for his photographs of houses at night, Hido’s landscapes are categorically different from his best hits; instead of a voyeur, you’re the lost soul. Take the leap to see more. Hido captures that inner mood of the sometimes depressing and surreal landscape contained in the northern states. I can always feel nostalgic about cold weather and the pleasant variety of loneliness the winter brings. If you see that moment, forget the tripod mounted cam- shoot through the windshield and give photographic impressionism a try.
Laurent Chéhère’s photo series of floating buildings and homes takes these once permanent structures and shoots them off into the sky like a light weight balloon fill with helium. Inspired by the French film The Red Balloon, these playful and whimsical photographs are at once powerful surreal images and a masterful blend of analog photography and digital wizardry. (via)
Each project carried out by Winkler + Noah has a meaningful focus with a motive to provoke serious thought. My favorite has to be the “Short Life” series. “We had been working for about a year and a half at the Shortlife project when we found a newspaper article with the following title: “DIES WHILE WAITING IN LINE FOR THE ART SHOW AND TOURISTS TAKE PICTURES”. An old man died while waiting to see the Raffaello’s exhibition in Florence and other tourists started to shoot at him with their cameras as if it were the most natural thing to do. This was the sad confirmation of what we were trying to represent in this photographic project: the end of respect for man means the end of everything: everything is legal, commercial and sellable. Nothing is private anymore, nothing can be stopped, everyone can do whatever he/she wants, without rules or morals, in a accelerating process that leaves nothing behind. Not even death can stay out of the show.”