Victoria Williams, Valley State Prison for Women, Chowchilla, California.
Anonymous , Ionia Maximum Correctional Facility, Ionia, Michigan.
James Bowlin, United States Penitentiary, Marion, Illinois.
Anonymous Backdrop Painted in State Correctional Facility, Otisiville, New York.
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)
So we have all heard or read about the different scandals over celebrity photographs being leaked to people who they shouldn’t be leaked to. Whether they are nude photographs, private images, or untouched magazine cover shoots, we’ve all seen pictures of certain people that we probably shouldn’t have. Well, Spanish artist David Lopera takes this idea and pushes it to the extreme. He uses images of well known people including Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, Michelle Keegan, Katy Perry, and Park Shin Hae and changes our perception of them.
With some Photoshop trickery, Lopera adds pounds to the celebrities, creating cartoonish caricatures of themselves. Promoting another type of body image, he ‘fleshes’ the women out, fetishsizing a plumper figure. Originally Lopera modified these celebrity photographs for his own amusement, but after receiving requests from other people for more transformations, he decided to up his output. He writes to Daily Mail:
Men are always writing to me asking if I can make their celebrities crushes look a bit fatter. Emma Watson, Jennifer Lawrence and Kim Kardashian are some of the most popular requests I get. These women look much better when they’re overweight. (Source)
Effectively promoting a more positive body image, he taps into our obsession with self image and vanity. He could also be fetishsizing a different type of body, but in an equally unhealthy way, but it seems to be humorous, or at least enjoyable to men and women alike. Lopera’s artist site on Deviant Art has an interesting survey explaining that most people only want to see the morphs of women (77 percent of participants want only women, and 23 percent want both men and women to put on the pounds). Perhaps you could even write to him to request your own favorite celebrity transformation…. (Via Demilked)
Everyone gets annoyed by the bombardment of photos of babies on Facebook and other Social networking sites. It seems like parents want to document every smile, fall and giggle that their kids make. But what about the rest of us that don’t have kids? Well a few fun loving folks in NYC decided to fight fire with fire and create My Precious Roommate, a hilarious collection of photos taken by Molly (we only have her first name) of her roommate recreating the good, the bad, the cute, and the ugly baby photos that we all come across on Facebook. The images are somewhere between comedy skit, performance art, and too much time on their hands. We love them for their ingenuity and creative take on G rated imagery.
A tragic love story interpreted and represented in real life. Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze has created in real life the two characters who, despite their love, cannot be together. The sculptures are made out of metallic discs and are moving daily, embracing each other and parting in different ways.
Tamara Kvesitadze’s ‘Man and Woman’ installation depicts Ali, a Muslim boy and Nino, a Christian Georgian princess. It’s a symbolic representation of the Soviet Russia invasion which forces the two lovers to separate and leave for opposed directions. This tale is inspired by a novel by Azerbaijani author, Kurban Said.
The sculptures are 8 meters (26 foot) tall and are moving every day at 7pm for 10 minutes in the seaside city of Batumi in Georgia. If we look at the video above, we notice that as the sculptures move the metallic discs fit together and the bodies merge. The purpose behind this installation is to illustrate how elements, within a world where everything and anything is moving, can be synchronized and create attraction. (via Juxtapoz)
As part of our ongoing partnership with In The Make, Beautiful/Decay is sharing a studio visit with artist Serena Cole. See the full studio visit and interview with Serena and other West Coast artists at www.inthemake.com.
Serena’s studio is in her Oakland apartment, a modest space that she has efficiently rigged to accommodate her needs. She’s set it up so that her studio takes up most of the apartment’s square footage, but she keeps things flexible with furnishings that are easily moved and rearranged. I’m always impressed with resourcefulness and am appreciative of the kind of ingenuity that comes out of necessity and that manages to circumvent a set of limitations. In fact, the idea of limitations kept coming up for me in thinking about Serena’s artwork because her pieces are very much visually dictated and confined by her reference material. Her work directly appropriates the fashion imagery of advertising campaigns and editorial spreads, highlighting the patterns and tropes used to elicit desire and encourage consumerism. In taking on this imagery, her work attempts to examine what is revealed about our collective psychology, the culture of consumption and escapism, and the complexity of fantasy. In our conversations, she acknowledged that she isn’t so much trying to create something new, but instead aims to deconstruct already existent imagery in the appropriation of it. But this is a slippery slope— in being so tightly tethered to the aesthetics of the fashion world, Serena’s work runs the risk of coming off as analogous instead of questioning. Serena is aware of this risk— in creating art within a framework already heavily loaded with well-established associations, value, and perimeters, she knows the trick is to get the viewer to recognize that there is actually a lot at stake amidst the glitz and glamour.
Owen Gildersleeve’s cut paper illustrations must take a million razor blades and lots of patience to create. From book covers to ads Owen swings his blade at cut paper with no fear creating ultra detailed imagery for you to feast your eyes on. The only question is whether his business cards are also hand cut one at a time. Now that would be intense!
Artist Josefina Concha, with the aid of a sewing machine in lieu of a brush, weaves her work into being. Full of texture and threaded messy shapes of color, her stitching fascinatingly harkens back to Mark Tobey’s thoughts on abstract expressionism: “A painting should be a textile, a texture. That’s enough! Perhaps I was influenced by my mother. She used to sew and sew. I can still see that needle going. Maybe that’s what I’d rather do than anything with the brush-like stitching over and over and over, laying it in, going over, bringing it up. Bringing it up. That’s what is difficult.”
However, of her own approach, Concha strives not just to simulate, but replace painting with crafting techniques, a medium formerly equated primarily with domestic labor. She explains, “The building of my work is articulated through the investment of a material (the thread) on a piece of cloth, and the time dedicated to sew it. This is made visible in the superimposition of weaves that in short will generate a thickness (body) and a sensation of volume, dominated by the treatment of color and optical mixtures, to which I turn to with the eagerness of creating suggestive images that appeal to the ephemeral.”