Korean artist Do Ho Suh has often explored thoughts on collective strength (and perhaps weakness) in his work before. However, his new sculpture Karma addresses a more personal collectivity. This enormous sculpture seems to stretch on perpetually. At the sculpture’s base a man stands with his eyes covered by another man crouching on his back. That man’s eyes are also covered by another man crouching on his back and this pattern appears to repeat ad infinitum. Perhaps a literal visual interpretation of the concept of karma or even the saying ‘history is doomed to repeat itself’.
Brian Cattelle is an American photographer who has embarked on a nation-wide project to photograph one nude model in each of the USA’s 50 states. Driving his concept is an exploration of the contrast between natural, nude beauty, and the decay of manmade environments; explore his current collection, and you will see female figures integrated within architectural wastelands, the black and white tones highlighting the illumination of soft skin amidst shadowy, shattered rubble. Entitled BARE USA, the project emerged from Cattelle’s desire to challenge himself and his work. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he explained:
“I wanted to tackle a project that would prove I was able to work with models in often difficult and uncomfortable situation. I wanted to show I was willing to go to any lengths to get a great shot. I also wanted to show the level of organization, execution, and dedication I was capable of. It seems that my initial intention was to prove these points to others, but in the end the true reward was proving them to myself.”
Part of what makes Cattelle’s project so imaginative and emotionally evocative is his approach to abandoned places. “People often express sadness about some of these great abandoned structures,” Cattelle observed. “They don’t make me feel sad. Change is change […]. I do find myself captivated by a sense of awe and wonder when I soak in my surroundings. I think about how much effort went in to building these places, how much work took place here, and how quickly that can be lost.” By incorporating nude models, Cattelle reinvests desolate spaces with hope and optimism for the future. As he concludes, “I think my work is important because I am creating art and bringing something beautiful to this world by injecting new life into these dead and forgotten structures.”
Last summer, Cattelle completed successful shoots in 30 states, and is working on completing the final 20. If you like his concept, check out his Kickstarter project. There, you can learn more, make a pledge, and receive beautiful fine art prints in return. Visit Cattelle’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see more of his work and follow him on his journey.
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As the Fondation Cartier points out, ‘a Ron Mueck exhibition is a rare event.” His hyperrealistic sculptures are worked over carefully for countless hours. Thus new work is especially exciting. Mueck’s current exhibit at the Fondation Cartier introduces three new sculptures. Couple Under an Umbrella, featured here, illustrates Mueck’s style well. His amazingly lifelike sculptures are only betrayed as inanimate objects by their surreal size. The giant couple beside their creator makes for a bewildering sense of scale and reality. [via]
“Zła uczennica” is a collaborative series between photographer Magdalena Franczuk and Ashkan Honarvar, who is known for his rich surreal collages. The name of the series translates to “The Bad Schoolgirl” and draws its inspiration from coming-of-age stories such as Lolita.
Lush blossoms and flora bloom around the girls in the series, even as the blank spaces behind their their faces and hearts are revealed in an almost anatomical fashion. Franczuk and Honarvar evoke a sense of searching, a limbo between knowing and understanding as the girls in the photos grow and discover themselves. Some of the images seem random at first — snails and cherries — but they make sense in context: one, a hollowed shell in which the true self lives; the other, a symbol of girlhood.
It’s interesting to see the way the two artists’ work interact. Franczuk’s photography brings a subtlety of emotion and ambiguity that we might take at face value, while Honarvar’s collage elements depict the inner struggles of the subjects. In an artist’s statement, Honarvar notes that he “present[s] the human body at the center of microcosmic theaters of dichotomy in which irrationality permeates logic, serenity belies violence, and luxury secretes exploitation.” It seems fitting for “Zła uczennica” — after all, isn’t growing up one of the most universal dramas of all? (h/t I Need a Guide)
South Korean artist Lee Yun Hee creates narrative ceramic pieces inspired by literature and story telling. She uses both Western and Eastern influences, creating a style of her own that is striking, unique and undoubtably contemporary. Her work is fragile and flawless, almost creating an aura of effortlessness. She uses her work to reflect upon stories of everyday people; their struggles, fears, hopes, and anxieties. Yet, most importantly to her, she is truly interested in documenting their “cures” — the sort of “up from below” type stories that end with a protagonist who has had the strength and endurance to overcome a difficult task. For example, her piece La Divina Commedia, reinterprets the classic 14th century poem by Dante. In her version, she depicts a young girl’s search for truth. She explains the tale behind the piecein an interview with Brilliant 30. She states,
“there was once a girl that received an oracle, telling her future. The knowledge, the predestined desire and insecurity left her troubled. In search of happiness and peace, she embarked on a journey. Along the way, she encountered many obstacles; but at the end, she discovered the peace she has been striving for…By overcoming anxiety and suppressing desire, the girl reaches a state of ultimate peace.”
Her work acts as windows into her own version of a fairy tale; she is able to re-create morality stories within her own framework. She refers to her self as a collector— she takes influence from everything she sees. She explains, “I have been keen on collecting images since I was a child. I would rather cut out the pictures from cartoons than read them. Even the encyclopedia wasn’t safe. These processes have had more influence than anything else on my background as an artist.”
Lee Yun Hee’s work is mystical and fantastic. Though balancing modern, classic, Eastern, and Western styles, she has creating an epic body of art that is honest, profound, and truly unique.
I’ve been following Peekasso‘s (real name: Peter Stemmler) work on his Tumblr page for awhile now, and he is easily one of my favorite internet artists. I’m never bored with any of his creations, but his gif work is especially impressive. Using a combination of clips from film, video games, pornography, commercials, pop culture, and other internet ephemera, Stemmler assembles a curious juxtaposition of images. Some of his gifs have a brainwashing quality to them – a quick succession of disparate images and the loop of the gif medium force the brain to make connections between starkly contrasted imagery. The result is dizzying, and for me, satisfying in its absurdity. Underneath this absurdity and within the juxtapositions there is a critique of some of the imagery that seems to emerge, a perspective that seems to mock much of media in general.
As an internet artist, Stemmler also has an impressive output of static digital images and illustrations that you can check out on his website, blog, or Flickr. He lives in New York.
Using photography as a tool for generating evidence, South African artist Dillon Marsh approaches the creation of his serial landscape works with the methodology of a researcher. Marsh is constantly looking to capture his subjects “in the wild,” and his watchful eye has yielded a variety of interesting results—with some topics touching on landscape, ownership and disruption in both realms.
For his “Invasive Species” series, Marsh captures instances of oddly jarring, slightly unapologetic occurrences of poorly disguised cell phone towers as they dot the South African landscape. He notes: “In 1996 a palm tree appeared almost overnight in a suburb of Cape Town. This was supposedly the world’s first ever disguised cell phone tower. Since then these trees have spread across the city, South Africa and the rest of the world. Invasive Species explores the relationship between the environment and the disguised towers of Cape Town and its surrounds.”