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Ambivalent Photographs Of Bolivian Witchcraft Reveal The Clash Between Tradition And Modernity

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In their book Waska Tatay, French photographer Thomas Rousset and graphic designer Raphael Verona document the cryptic reality of Bolivian witchcraft. During their trip to the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Rousset and Verona encountered the magical world of shamanism, spiritual healers and ancient mythology. Their book exposes the collision between old and new, mystical and mundane, spiritual and physical.

The ambivalence of Waska Tatay begins from a first glance. Book’s abstract cover of fading yellows and blues is contrasting with the actual matter. The clash continues throughout Rousset and Verona’s style of photography, which is tossing between reportage and staged portraiture. Finally, the grotesque ambiguity reaches its top when the subjects in all their ritual garments are photographed in their mundane surroundings. This incoherence between content and form exposes the viewer to the grim reality of tradition in today’s world.

“We decided to mix two languages: one very staged and those that are very snapshot. We mixed a lot to create ambiguity for the reader, in knowing what’s real and what’s fiction.”

Rousset and Verona claims to have tried to zoom the old fashioned world into today’s reality. The picture of a Bolivian girl standing in a tree is an iconic example of their idea: “You could see that the girl is a witch, trying to talk with divinities or evils but her voice to God is replaced by a cell phone,” says Verona. According to the photographers, what they witnessed in Bolivia was a sense of magical realism which they wanted to broadcast to the viewer. The book Waska Tatay is available on IDPURE. (via Wired)

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Moke Mioke’s Surreal Paintings Celebrate The Beautiful Relationship Between People And Nature

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Moki Mioke celebrates a beautiful relationship between people and nature. Her photography provides reference images for her surreal paintings, but her creativity manifests in other media as well, such as installation and comic art. She has a great passion for nature that she expresses through her work in her constant exploration of its textures, scenes, and hidden treasures. She is able to find the most stunning glaciers and mossy green boulders in absurd abundance, a tribute to her investment in her passion. Her paintings show how she perceives her relationship to nature; Comfortable and inseparably entwined as in the feeling capture in the painting of a woman who sleeps under a blanket of rock.

Mioke’s paintings are excitingly contemporary. Nature is not a particularly modern subject matter, but Mioke immerses herself within it to successfully find its relevance today. She avoids the nostalgia and sentimentality that would come with a less profound examination. Most importantly, she finds a perspective, a lens through which she can observe the environments she seeks out, that feels new. You don’t feel as though you’re seeing just another tree. Mioke’s awe and wonder at the beauty of her subject translates loudly in her work. (Via Ignant)

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Unsettling Portraits Combine Two Different People Into One Indistinguishable Person

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Croatian photographer Ino Zeljak’s series entitled Metamorfoza highlights peoples resemblances by combining multiple portraits into a single photograph.While we’re all different in our own special way, some of us look pretty similar to one another.  Because with over 7 billion people in the world, many people have the same types of facial features, whether we’re related to that person or not. Sometimes it’s genetics while other times it’s just pure coincidence.

Using brothers, best friends, and parents, Zeljak splits the faces in half with Photoshop and expertly places the disparate parts together. Features are lined up and blended perfectly. His handiwork is so subtle that each image is almost indistinguishable as two people. Instead, they look like one slightly unsettling person who has different color eyes or a crooked nose. But all things considered, it’s reveals that we can look so homogeneous that you’d hardly give it a second glance. (Via designboom)

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Lisa Yuskavage’s Paintings Of Voluptuous Women Reclaim Femininity

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If her voluptuous women with their cartoon eyes weren’t enough, Lisa Yushavage captured my soul by saying:

“As an artist you’re supposed to spend your life doing something that’d be an utter waste of time for anyone else. And even so, there’s no proof you’re not wasting your life making some total crap.” (Source)

Using her exceptional skill in oil paints to create hyper-hued landscapes with ripe, almost blowsy, nudes is clearly not making crap. With a career that started in the mid 1990s, her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at prominent institutions, including the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Royal Academy of Arts, London; and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia.

“I don’t want my pictures to be up to any good. I like the idea that they’re troublemakers. So if I’m told they’re bad for the world, it pleases me. I don’t want to make something that’s an antidote. I want to pose questions. That’s what I do. I suppose I strive to bother people and be loved for it. That’s the dream.” (Source)

These are erotic pictures of women, painted by a woman. Rather than the patriarchal view of sexual woman as object, these women are sexual for themselves. Sometimes kinky, often controversial, these paintings have been compared to soft-core porn. It’s intended as an insult, but it’s actually a reclaiming of power and the ability to depict women in all their forms. “It’s not about being well behaved,” Yaskavage says. “It’s not about behaving for others.”

The essence of female power is not that women must be desexed, it’s that women can decide how they want to be seen—sexy, silly, powerful, maternal, erotic, masculine, intelligent, profound—any combination of these, and much more. Yaskavage’s women are the creatures of her mind, brought to life through her skill with a paintbrush, and behaving in exactly the way they’re meant to in the worlds she’s created.

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Ethereal Portraits By Merve Morkoç Showcase Horrific Beauty

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Beauty is a treasured thing in our culture, and Turkish artist Merve Morkoç, aka Lakor mis, turns this ideal on its head. At first glance their paintings are of seemingly young, glowing-skinned models, but a longer gaze reveals that these subjects all have something seriously wrong with them. Coupled with their well-coiffed hair are fantastical disfigurations that you’d see in a horror film. Warped eyelids, caved in faces, and rashes exist on these young women.

Any sort of pleasant response you initially had is probably gone, and the works are like a train wreck that you can’t look away from. The strange details are intriguing, and it speaks to Morkoç’s expert handling of the medium that they are easily able to fool us into thinking something that’s repulsive is actually beautiful. (Via Hi Fructose)

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Lucy Hilmer Has Been Taking Nude Self Portraits On Her Birthday For Over 40 Years

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Lucy Hilmer is a photographer who has taken nude self portraits  each year for the last 40 years of her life, on her birthday. She takes the photos wearing only underwear, socks, and shoes. The act of being naked, she says, is in defiance of the prescribed definition of beauty applied to her body. Being a woman with a slim figure and classically appealing features, she found she wanted to define herself through these photographs, rather than accept the definitions of others.

It seems counter-intuitive at first to remove your clothes in photographs in order to redefine how you are perceived. If you stand nearly naked in front of a camera in a relatively neutral pose, and you are “beautiful”, chances are you will just continue to look beautiful in that photo. Still, for Hilmer it isn’t really about how others perceive her, it is about how she perceives herself. She looks beautiful throughout, as she is pregnant, as she ages, in whatever setting she’s in, because she is comfortable in her skin.

The portraits are well composed and creative. In one, Hilmer’s arm imitates the shape of a large driftwood tree beside her. In another, the dynamic composition makes her pose beside her equally naked husband (facing backward) comic but also epic against the tall trees in the background. (Via Lost at E Minor)

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Artist Reveals The Actual Ingredients Behind Our Beloved Fast Food Meals

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In his ongoing project “Mystery Meat”, Texas-born visual artist Peter Augustus explores the disconnect between mass-produced foods and their “natural”, unprocessed form. Augustus’ photo series depicts various fast food dainties with their ingredients stripped down to their primal state: chicken nuggets to chicken feet, BLT to pork legs, etc.

The idea for the project was born after Augustus moved to Hong Kong where he currently resides. Artist was fascinated by the local meat shops, exposing various animal parts to their customers. He claims that Westerners are rarely in touch with “anything that even closely represents what kind of animals we are eating”. Most often, we purchase processed, prepackaged and showcased meat products without even knowing the real source.

The deeper and more disturbing side to Augustus’ work is the very notion of “mystery meat”. What is often marketed as 100 percent meat product, in reality comprises of various contents. The gruesome trend of intransparency is especially present in fast food market.

“I hope to cause the viewer to take into account what the natural form of their food looks like. I think the work highlights a number of important debates, and it is not meant to be repulsive — just to raise awareness. It also touches on the longstanding debate of the quality of chicken and meat products and the use of unnatural fillers and hormones in the animal products we eat daily.”

(via Feature Shoot; Huffington Post)

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Nude Bodies Painted To Blend In With New York City Landscapes And Landmarks

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San Francisco-based body painter Trina Merry has created a series of scenes that blend nude bodies into New York City landscapes such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Guggenheim Museum, Empire State Building, Central Park and the New York City skyline. Due to Merry’s fine attention to detail and composition, the painter’s subjects seamlessly disappear into their surrounding environments.

Of her medium, Merry writes, “My surface is living, breathing human beings making this a highly relevant & immediate medium. I use non-toxic hypoallergenic paint applied with a brush or airbrush. The painting is temporary, like a Tibetan sand painting, beginning to change into another work as soon as I stop painting, changing texture & color.”

Merry has an impressive portfolio of projects on her site, including the Human Motorcycle Project, a project which entailed painting bodies to look like motorcycles. (via visual news)

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