Raphael Garnier is a digital cosmonaut, equally entranced by the flickering mystery emanating from Kirchner’s 18th century “magic lamps,” primordial symbology, and the dazzle-spaz of gif animations. Garnier finds just as much potential to explore new realms within the internet “as in the seabed.” In his travels, he has constructed a wondrous cabinet of curiosities from the binary and the bombastic, fixated firmly on both the future and the worship of magic from a near distant past.
Beautiful/Decay Book: 8 is on its way to us from the printers and we just can’t wait to share with you all the amazing artists that we have featured. We’re not ready to announce who made the cut and what the theme is just yet but I thought i’d tease you with just a small portion of the cover. Why don’t you take a guess and see if you can figure out what’s on the cover. It’s one of our best cover images yet and I know it will blow you away. Make sure to reserve your very own copy of Beautiful/Decay Book 8 by subscribing today. We have only printed 1,500 books and once they are sold out they will never be reprinted again!
Kara Walker’s new sculpture “A Subtlety” is pure white, coated in 160,000 pounds of bleached sugar; with this modern take on the ancient sphinx, the legendary artist crafts a towering black face in honor of the slave laborers who worked in sugar cane fields. The powerful work is meant to address racial and sexual exploitation; like the sugar that coats her polystyrene core, this black female figure has been pressured, against nature, into succumbing to whiteness.
The work is now on display at the old Williamsburg, Brooklyn Domino sugar factory shed, where it reaches to the ceiling and extends for a magnificent 75 feet. The mythical creature is a powerful assertion of the black female self; the face quite resembles the artists’ own, and a carefully wrought bandana subtly references the stereotypical (and often offensive) symbol of the mammy, a slave woman who nurtured and brought up white children. Walker has been the subject of debate in the past for her use of contested imagery, and despite the controversy surrounding the “mammy” figure, she is presented here as powerful and divine.
Like the ancient sphinxes of Egypt and Greece, Walker’s monolithic creation is godly, simultaneously fearsome and comforting. The sphinx, known for protecting the tombs of royalty, becomes the guardian of history, interrupting a white-washed historical narrative to make visible the labor of the men and women who were kept enslaved. Her face is serene, assured, and unyielding. The sphinx character, in addition to being a protector, is also dangerous, renowned for devouring those who cannot answer her riddle; Walker’s sphinx is similarly confrontational in her overwhelming size, forcing viewers to confront the complex and painful history of American industry. (via The New York Times)
This film is an intimate portrait of Mark Brookmire. He has lived a solitary life for the last 20 years in a cabin in the woods of Western New York. After Mark was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and given three months to live, his daughter immediately sought to capture the spirit of her father as a poet, falconer and free-spirit in this deeply personal documentary. Watch the full documentary after the jump.
Valerj Pobega is an Italian-born, LA-based designer who brings powerful imagery and detail-focused art into the world of fashion. Crafted entirely by hand, Pobega’s pieces comprise unique cuts and painted fabrics instilled with hybridized, subcultural references. Her style could be described as sophistication with a resounding edge, and operating under the mantra “you’re wearing Art, and Art is timeless,” Pobega seeks to reinvigorate couture as a creative outlet that defies the doldrums of mass production and consumerism (Source).
Featured here is Pobega’s “Bondage Collection,” which debuted in Spring/Summer 2010. In true trendsetter fashion, Pobega introduced the runways of high fashion to fetish-inspired wear when it was still largely underground. In bold contrasts of black and white, each ensemble is somberly daring and awakens the imagination like thunder. One of the main inspirations for this collection was Nobuyoshi Araki’s controversial bondage photography, as seen in the ropes, tassels, and braids adorning and harnessing the models. The lightweight, kimono-style couture also resonates with a Japanese influence. Pobega, however, is careful not to isolate such references, and has seamlessly blended these aesthetics with a dark, Western punk style.
Another inspiration behind the “Bondage Collection” was the movie Trainspotting and its soundtrack—in particular, Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” which accompanied the runway show. With their shadowed eyes and unlaced shoes, the models reflect a subtle state of dishevelment. All of these influences come together into a narrative that Pobega composed to inspire the collection, which she described for Beautiful/Decay:
“I thought of [the Trainspotting influence] as very connected with the Araki theme as the movie depicts the life of a group of friends addicted to drugs—and if you think about it, drugs addiction is really like being in bondage, tied up in ropes, unable to move or make decisions.”
In oscillating images of power and powerlessness, the originality of the series derives from a compelling synthesis of its influences and details. The runway show was likewise as impactful, with a male dancer clad in one of her hand-painted gowns closing the event with a dramatic pirouette. With Pobega, shock value and emotion are integral to exploring the capacities of fashion as an embodied art form.
Pobega’s unique couture has been widely recognized, attracting the attention of celebrities such as Madonna, Selena Gomez, and Ozzy Osbourne. Her work has also been featured in the publications Vogue, Elle, Bite, and more. Visit her website to view more of her compelling and art-driven collections.
Using the natural shapes and contours of the body, German artist Gisene Marwedel transforms the human body into a living, breathing work of art. Marwedel paints finely detailed images, ranging from animals to landscapes to abstraction. She first learned the art of body painting while in India, where she began painting with henna. This skill evolved into a full-time hobby (she has a day job as a speech therapist). Her work depicts scenes of movement and grace with a hauntingly surreal aesthetic. (via mirror)
Artist James Turrell, pioneer of using light as an art medium, once said “Seeing is a very sensuous act“. Charles Matson Lume follows Turrell’s influential path, adding his own sculptural, material and architectural elements to his light works. Though the two have distinct differences, Lume’s idea that “Light is seemingly capable of releasing a kind of secret from the ordinary” holds many similarities to Turrell’s artistic philosophy.
The Twin Cities-based Lume spoke with Beautiful/Decay on the eve of being named to the ArtPrize Shortlist for 3D Works for his piece, The World’s An Untranslatable Language II (for Charles Wright) (pictured above). Using pedestals of plastic warning tapes, as well as neon duct tape, mirrored paper reflects light onto the gallery’s walls, creating the alluring forms and patterns which are the spirit of Lume’s work. The artist adds, “Yes, the light is elemental in my work. However, the materials hold meaning. For me, the pas du deux of light and materials mirrors my experience in the world.”
This relationship between the materials and the light itself is interesting, as it is the artist’s main medium, yet is given more conceptual heft with the importance placed in the ephemeral materials used to support the light works themselves. Many of Lume’s ideas are broadened (and also named after) his interest in contemporary poetry, but the artist quickly adds, “I am interested in visual pleasure, the sensual, and experiential. I am also interested in what distracts us (Is there anything in our culture that isn’t vying for our attention?) What gets in the way of really living a full life? Art allows me to find gestures in which I can sometimes access a kind of authenticity that is true.”