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Rithika Merchant’s Mysterious And Symbolic Paintings Explore The Mythologies Of The Moon

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Throughout mythology, the moon has represented the visible unknown, a mysterious force whose own phases influence human behavior and identity in subtle-but-powerful ways. In a series titled Luna Tabulatorum, which will be featured at an upcoming exhibition at the Stephen Romano Gallery in Brooklyn, artist Rithika Merchant has painted esoteric scenes that express the enigmatic and transient nature of the moon, conjuring up compounded images of spirituality, occultism, and femininity. Whether it’s a pack of howling wolves, bodies sprouting organic matter, or vulva-like orifices opening to dark, forested scenes, her paintings represent layers of reality that unfold into multiple meanings, with the feminine body as the empowered source of these transformations. Merchant explains her inspiration for the series in the following statement:

“The moon and the sun are the foundations on which many of the world’s ancient religions have been founded. […] The monthly cycle of the moon has also been linked to the menstrual cycle by many cultures. There are links between the words for menstruation and moon in many languages. I see the moon as a meaningful universal object that links humanity by its importance, its presence, and its significance. Being particularly interested in creating links between cultures, the moon has been a very enlightening muse.” (Source)

The moon is also known for its duality—like the werewolf who shifts between states of humanity and bestiality, the moon represents a dichotomous relationship of darkness and light. This dualism is at constant play in Merchant’s works, representing the cycles of life and death; in one image, a skull-headed she-figure is borne skyward in the embrace of raven, in another, prone bodies surrender their hearts to a celestial being. In all of these images, creation and destruction are part of the same process, with the moon as the uniting force. Neutrality is key to Luna Tabulatorum—there is no good and evil, only a series of overlapping metamorphoses and becomings that defy stable notions of morality and identity.

Luna Tabulatorum will be running from September 3rd until October 15th. Visit the Stephen Romano Gallery website to learn more.

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Randy Scott Slavin’s Photographs Turn Landscapes Topsy-Turvy

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In photographer Randy Scott Slavin’s series, Alternative Perspectives, he takes ordinary landscapes and turns them into topsy-turvy, mind-bending sights. At any moment, these panoramic shots make the world appear like it’s going to fold in on itself. Slavin captures all types of terrain, including the red rocks of the Phoenix desert, the beaches in Miami, and the skyscrapers of New York City. These places are transformed in a surreal and psychedelic way.

Salvin takes approximately 100 photos for each image. While he can shoot a scene in less than 10 minutes, it may him hours or days to edit what you see here. The process is a lot of trial and error for the photographer as he figures out what time of day and season is best.

Salvin’s photos not only play with the orientation of the image, but reference time as well. Their circular motion is reminiscent of a wormhole or water spinning down a drain. Both imply a passage, whether it be in years or minutes. (Via Fast Company)

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Expressive environmental portraits by Stefan Ruiz

I’ve been a fan of Stefan Ruiz’s work for a while, I collected most of the issues of COLORS magazine he worked on several years ago. He documents people, places, and objects from around the world that are both strange and familiar. I especially love his portraits; he conveys so much personality and narrative in such concise elegant images.

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Francis Upritchard’s Technicolor Mystical Figures

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Artist Francis Upritchard sculpts, paints, and conjures up different figures and artifacts. Alluding to different ancient tribes and cultures (Native American, Maori) Upritchard creates objects soaked in sentimentality. From wrapped mummies and robed shamans, to shrunken heads and mysteriously worn down relics, her objects belong to a time of tranquility, of sensitivity and purity.

Her effigies have painted faces, triangles woven into silken robes, draped scarves hang off their fragile frames. They often have strange markings and are accompanied by personal artifacts or offerings. These not-quite-humans hold up their hands, not in protest but in some sort of ritual. We seem to have stumbled in half way through a sacred process. Lunge, Archer, Sneaky – all these titles suggest a movement that is half way through completion. She says of her new figures:

I wanted them to be really close to Dungeons and Dragons figures. Fantasy alongside the sentimental, nostalgic and idealized – or perhaps I mean stylized. Almost like dolls.

Upritchard scours flea markets and second hand stores looking for vases, hockey sticks, cookie jars, anything that can be turned into some sort of relic. Using real teeth, human hair, silks, wood, and natural rubber from Brazil, boiled with different pigments, her work is immensely tactile, and immediately old.

Her work is a glimpse of a time that either has happened, is happening, or will be happening. It is an idea of a modern day Utopia, one of subtlety, and quiet power. This is the new Voodoo.

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The Chaotic Poetry Of Lori Nix’s Post-Apocalyptic Dioramas

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The altered visions of Lori Nix have led to the creation of transfixing dioramas, which she photographs to look like reality. Often building an entire scene around one object or piece she finds compelling, these worlds are pain-stakingly intricate. The body of work featured, City, offers glances into a post-apocalyptic city, one devoid of human life and beyond collapse. Vegetation and foliage crawl into the scenes, taking over the man-made aspects. Debris everywhere, the rooms appear untouched from how they were before. All the details and minutae indicating human life is there, strewn about.

The dioramas are a time-consuming creation; Nix spends about seven months constructing and photographing a single work. Each diorama is built only to be photographed from a single angle, and she controls and manipulates all of the lighting until she arrives at her desired outcome. A film purist, Nix shoots on an 8×10 large format camera, allowing her to make massive prints of her work.

“Since my earliest days I have always worked with fabrication, either through darkroom manipulations or even room sized installations. My strength lies in my ability to build and construct my world rather than seek out an existing world. Inspiration comes from reading the daily newspaper The New York Times, science fiction paperbacks and magazine articles. I get most of my ideas during my morning subway commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan to go to my day job. Something about the morning light, the rocking of the subway, seeing the cityscape pass by opens my mind up to inspiration.”

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Bill Durgin’s Nude Figurative Abstractions

New York artist Bill Durgin’s photographs reflect a fascination with the body as form. The complex figurations, undulating arrangements of flesh, as the body seems to collapse onto it self, image an almost abstracted figure lacking appendages and hair. The physical structure becomes not just a shell, but a moving sculpture of skin, muscle, fat, and bone.

The gesture within each photograph is created through exploring his own physical limitations and collaborative improvisation with dancers and performers. Often Durgin will come up with a pose and demonstrate it and then ask the model to repeat or respond to it. Each pose transmogrifies the figure towards abstraction; exaggerating or diminishing the skeletal structure until it approaches an amorphic form. Durgin wants the bodies to be recognized as bodies, but also to be detached from common perceptions of the figure. Bound within each singular view, the uncanny figures convey the body as both abject and marvelous.

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Interactive Sound Sculpture Pavilion for the Olympic Games

As part of Coca Cola’s Move to the Beat program for the 2012 Olympics, London design partners Asif Khan and Pernilla Ohrstedt put together the Coca Cola Beatbox pavilion in the Olympic Park, an interactive architectural installation composed of 200 translucent air cushions. The cushions respond to movement from pavilion visitors with sound and light, effectively remixing a track commissioned by the bottling company for the Games. Different areas in the structure emit various sports-themed sounds like sneakers squeaking on the court and recorded heart rates. This one’s probably not for the claustrophobic, but London is definitely the place to be right now. Concept sketches and more images of the musical pavilion after the jump. (via)

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Art Basel Miami: Day 2

Highlights from Day 2: Art Miami & Pulse Art Fair

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