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Judy Miller’s Imaginary Dioramas Place Celebrities In Strange And Absurd Situations

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Judy Miller’s Imaginary Dioramas series is the kind of work that makes you think, “Wait, what?” The famous faces in the photos are recognizable, but off in some subtle way. The backgrounds are ambiguous, and the combinations of celebrities and scenes, “Outakes” as they’re titled, create curious narratives.

It’s almost a relief to find out that these artists and celebrities, whose faces we’re so familiar with, are actually wax figures photographed at Madame Tussaud’s and Photoshopped into scenes. The strangeness abates, but only briefly. It’s not only the waxy visages that are uncanny, but the situations as well. Most of the celebrities are not named or tagged, which presumes a certain amount of pop-culture familiarity in the viewer. Some photos only include a part of a face or body, making the identification even more difficult.

Robert E. Knight, Executive Director of the Tucson Museum of Art, writes, “Judy Miller does not create her work in the isolation of a studio. She researches, travels, photo¬graphs, and then brings her images back in-house for final editing. Culled from the photo files of celebrity wax figures the artist has compiled over the years, Miller cleverly inserts her figures into fantasy settings with the finished composites ranging from humorous to odd, and compelling to camp. … Resembling excerpted film stills, the discordant emotional separation of Miller’s figures are in¬triguing in their awkward uncertainty. They truly have become actors in her play, and they’re just waiting for their cue. Even titling her images as “outtakes” references the artist’s interest in, and respect for, the influence films have had on our society.

What, for example, are Einstein and Picasso doing dressed alike, deliberately avoiding eye contact in a round room with many windows in “Newton’s Nightmare”?? Seemingly less bizarre is “Outtake #22, Exit Left”, which shows Jacqueline Kennedy facing front in the foreground and Marilyn Monroe’s red sequined back in the background. It’s easier to find context for this work but no less thought provoking. What if the two women really did meet? Each image poses unanswerable questions, which is Miller’s intention.

My goal is to create a dynamic juxtaposition of elements that spark individual interpretation.

 

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Iain Baxter Re-imagines His 1966 Bagged Place Installation In The Key Of Rebecca

Iain baxter - Installation

Iain baxter - Installation

Iain baxter - Installation

Rebecca Levy died. Her apartment, situated above Raven Row gallery in London, did not; instead, it became a work of art by Iain Baxter, Canada’s most prominent conceptual artist.

Here, Baxter re-imagines his classic 1966 piece Bagged Place in each nook and cranny of Rebecca’s abandoned flat, wrapping clear plastic around the contents of which previously had been donated “intact” to the gallery from her family. Unsurprisingly, Rebecca’s Bagged Place, this 2013 rendition (collected here), seems to have more of a personal feeling, which immediately brings a new spark to not just Baxter’s work, but also, the underlying narrative or intention. This is not about sterilization nor consumerism, instead, it’s about Rebecca: her past, present, and future.

Before Rebecca’s things were bagged, they were alive because she was alive holding them, sitting in them, staring at them, and touching, loving, or losing them. Now that she has passed, her habitat is still and quiet, at least momentarily until the room slowly disassembles from one new pair of hands to the next. The thought of an interior space collapsing and dividing seems like a final goodbye, and the preservation of that farewell, heartbreakingly seems like an inability to confront death and an almost tragic prolonging of life. A room on life-support. How as viewers do we fall into the room? What do we take from it and where do we stay? When will we let go?

In this piece, amidst all the plastic isolation, the subject shifts with our own anxieties, daydreams, or curiosities in reaction to such careful preservation. We start to imagine Rebecca as we imagine ourselves: our own deaths, our own rooms, our own limbo before the dismantling. In this sense, Rebecca’s Bagged Place mirrors our own, and strangely we are Rebecca looking in from the outside.

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Aaron Nagel’s Nudes

Self taught painter Aaron Nagel’s masterfully executed nudes are full of mystery and elegance.

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Through A Looking Glass: The Seductive Muses Of Jessica Lichtenstein

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In the sculptural works of Jessica Lichtenstein, the idealized female form is presented in a highly, sexually, charged way. Appropriated from Japanese porno anime known as “Manga”, she reverses the original intent and renders a suggestive study of freedom and empowerment. In lighthearted narratives, her perfect muses flutter amongst a pile of designer bags, sip Starbucks, or work au naturel in the painting studio. These happy go lucky motifs were actually an escape for Lichtenstein’s own depression. Even though trained as an artist, she worked as a lawyer for many years. The daily grind got her down and she would escape through art projects. After creating her first successful exhibit featuring the girls, she listened to her inner voice, and quit law for good to pursue art full time. Not wanting to repeat herself, she decided to pursue another direction for her follow up. Instead of using dolls, she created pictorial likenesses of the girls which were scanned onto three dimensional word sculptures. These solid pieces constructed on aluminum and acrylic, depict scenes ranging from a war on words to sexual liberation. Technically hung on a wall, the different base materials give the pieces depth and become a solid looking glass into a host of childlike indulgences. Seasons, came next and stepped her into more introspective territory. The different times of year are portrayed through seasonal trees whose leaves are entirely composed of Manga figures. Its optical illusion triggers a highly emotional response from the viewer stemming from the clever placement of the artist’s nubile subjects.

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Roof Runners: Michael Snyder’s Imaginative Photographs Depict People Leaping Across Buildings

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Roof Runners (2015) is a series by photographer and filmmaker Michael Snyder. As an avid traveler and international artist, his work typically explores the intersections of social justice and environmental sustainability as they occur around the world. This series—which depicts people leaping daringly across rooftops—takes a more personal turn, drawing on Snyder’s childhood imagination. In the following project statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he explains:

“Car sickness plagued me when I was a child (it still does). While my siblings were able to read or play video games on long road trips, I always had to look out of the window to keep from being sick.  To fight the boredom I would project myself out of the car and into the landscape as it passed by.  Often, I would imagine myself as a runner, crossing rooftops and hurdling from building to building at high speeds.”

Snyder turns the urban architecture of Columbia Heights (Washington, DC) into a kind of real-world platform game, where the protagonist is a powerful projection of oneself, navigating the world with a sense of adventure and invulnerability. For Snyder, this reinvestment in a youthful fantasy operates as testament to the importance of personally-derived creativity. In a fast-paced world dominated by electronic entertainment, Roof Runners encourages us to return our gaze to the corporeal world for imaginative outlets and self-exploration.

Visit Snyder’s website, Instagram, and Facebook to follow his work. You can see more photos from the series here.

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Rebecca Rütten Uses Greasy Fast Food To Recreate Exquisite Renaissance Paintings

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Photographer Rebecca Rütten is interested in the paintings from the Renaissance period and contemporary fast food culture like Taco Bell and McDonalds. You wouldn’t think that the two would intersect, but in Rütten’s series Contemporary Pieces, they do. The German artist combines elements of the traditional with greasy burgers and fries. ”I became enamored with the eroticism, presentation and charisma of paintings from the Renaissance Period. In the Late Renaissance, Italian and Dutch painters dealt with the middle and lower classes,she writes in a statement about the work. To Rütten, fast food represents the two social groups. “To eat healthy is expensive,” she continues. “However, one can buy large amounts of food at a fast food restaurant for a comparatively low price.” 

Rütten asked tattooed and pierced friends to model for her and recreate the poses of laborers, gypsies, and prostitutes in Caravaggio paintings. The exquisite and dramatic images are simultaneously beautiful and repulsive. For every flower or fancy goblet there are mounds of saturated fat. It’s not only a culture clash, but a fusion of foodstuffs associated with lower class and fine items for the upper crust of society. (Via iGNANT)

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Selina Roman’s Burqa Project Offers Viewers Lateral Perspectives

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Growth

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Memories of Childhood

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Pink Float

The Burqa, full-body cover up worn primarily by Islamic women of faith, has been subject of much controversy for decades, especially in Western societies. Many say that the garment oppresses women, leaving them astray and without a voice in a world were men dominate them.

Selina Roman‘s Burqa Project takes the Burqa and turns its literal meaning around through the medium of photography and visual composition in order to challenge the viewer’s mainstream knowledge of it.

Roman, a former reporter, hopes to offer her audience a different view point, a new way of seeing, she comments on her artist statement.

Although the Burqa is shrouded in religious significance, I take it out of this context in an attempt to explore these other attributes. Instead of showcasing it as an oppressive garment, I place the Burqa in idyllic Florida landscapes to let it float and billow. In turn, it becomes an ephemeral and weightless object removed from its politicized context.

Apart from Roman’s obvious emphasis on the beauty and femininity that these garments project,  she also wants to shed light on the qualities that we often forget to acknowledge. There are many interesting characteristics that the Burqa provides to any that wears it- i.e anonymity, security, and power.

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