Anouk Mercier’s work centers around the notion of escapism through the fabrication of narrative. Relying on the nostalgia of Romanticism and mythology to depict melancholic worlds and characters, her drawings celebrate both the power of the imagination to escape the quotidian and the mundane, whilst also exploring the mysterious, the abysmal and the uncanny that often lurks behind idylls.
Presented as illustrations of an enigmatic tale, her drawings range from tenebrous Animalia portraits, to haunting landscapes and mysterious ‘mini-worlds’, laced with decorative flora. The artist invites viewers to engage with this fantastical world, whilst yet creating the illusion that it can only be observed through a distancing window. Positioning the viewer in doing so, as an entranced voyeur, enticed into formulating a narrative based on the visual fragments presented.
If you weren’t already convinced that Tilda Swinton is a dream-walking faerie queen, then Tim Walker‘s photography will certainly dispel all doubt. Whether she’s mingling with surreal objets in the home of Dominique and John de Menil (a series aptly named “The Surreal World“) or resurrecting lush jungle dreams (“Las Pozas“), Swinton punctuates each scene with a piercing gaze and an incandescent question mark.
Walker plays up Swinton’s otherworldliness with a deft hand and eye for stark contrast and color. In one photograph, it’s Swinton versus Swinton against a backdrop of surrealist paintings. In another, staring out from beneath a veil of gauze, Swinton poses like a bust in virginal white.
The description of Walker’s work from his biography — “extravagant staging and romantic motifs” — is certainly apt. From one stage to the next, Walker coaxes out a variety of subtle expressions from his subject: severe, pensive, and — just a hint — inviting. His photographs are transportive, giving viewers a brief glimpse of what it’s like to be an oneironaut circling the psychic deep. (via Dark Silence in Suburbia)
Charlotte Niel’s series Behind the Curtain captures the moments before, during, and after patrons’ engagements with carnival and fair photo booths. These photographs are light and fun, bright and summery. Photo booths have consistently been a place of discovery and wonder, a place to experience the excitement of pulling a curtain behind you to allow some privacy in the midst of a very public setting. In a culture where so much of our photography experience is digital, and the tangibility of the photograph does not seem to be as privileged or common as it once it was, the photo booth is a place that offers this immediate experience. I particularly enjoy the variety of color in these photographs and Niel’s captures of the bottom halves of the photo booth’s subjects. There’s a sense of mystery and curiosity that these images evoke, and I think that largely has something to do with the merging of these private moments in a public setting captured with a public eye.
Of her series, Niel explains, “How many times have we looked at an old photograph and wondered about the person in the frame? People or family members we never knew, set in places we never visited or that have changed beyond recognition. Photos are often the only means to link us to our past or the past of others. They help us not to forget. They become visual memories. For these reasons, I find it fascinating to watch what happens at photo booths at county fairs. People come with family and friends to celebrate anniversaries, birthdays, friendships or just to make an annual visit to the booths. For others, it is just a way to capture who they are or with whom they are at that moment, on their own private stage. The result is a body of work of people who shared with me moments that took place in front of and behind the curtain, documented for unknown viewers. With my camera, it became a transformation of a private moment into a public one.”
Sandy Kim’s images feel like an ode to twenty-somethings; nearly breathless, as they walk that tightrope between self-discovery and madness. Looking at her images gives me that same excitement for the wildness of possibility that you feel when you’re young and hitting the road with a new pair of sunglasses and a cooler full of Hot Pockets and Miller Light. Anything can happen.
Mymo of My Monsters is an artist currently working in Berlin and New York.
From her about page: “Mymo’s works are conceived using methods of free association similar to Surrealistic procedures; that is to say, the figures have the closest possible relationship to their surroundings.”
Ben Weiner’s photorealistic zooms and crops of artificial chemicals, paint, and beauty products give us a new magnified view into the materials and products that we surround ourselves with but never truly look at.
Ashkan Honarvar’s work is definitely not for the squeamish. There is macabre beauty in his work that compels you to keep looking at it. Honarvar’s work reveals the the darker side of the human body and mind… something most of us would rather look away from. The human body, whether torn by war, exploited by the sex industry, or as a tool for discovering identity, is the focus of his work. Ashkan Honarvar is now part of the La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa, Canada.