You probably have at least a photo (or two) that’s just too painful to look at. Whether it depict deceased loved one, a failed relationship, or be a symbol of a time long past, the sight is an unwelcome reminder of something (or someone) that’s gone. Since 2010, photographer Jason Lazarus has archived these images that are “too hard to keep” by their owners. He accepts the anonymous submissions and gives them a new life in the form of art exhibitions and books. Although their ownership has changed hands, their past isn’t forgotten.
These are a selection of photos that Lazarus has received over the years. With some of the images, you can immediately understand why they’re painful. One features dying cat laying on a cold metal table. Another is part of photobooth image of a couple that’s been torn into pieces. It’s also accompanied by a handwritten note.
With other photographs, it’s harder to understand why it was too hard to keep them. A seemingly-innocuous lush green landscape and a smiling snowman are another two submissions that Lazarus received. But, regardless of what they are, they meant something to someone at one time, and that’s the appeal of Lazarus’ project. It’s easy to relate to the feelings of loss, anger, and longing that these photos conjure to their original owners. These submissions are a reminder that we all hurt.
Vice is currently collecting photos that are too hard to keep, and they’ll publish a selection of the images. If you’re interested in participating, find out more here.
Very cool paintings and mixed-media work from artist Ethan Hayes-Chute. Working out of Freeport, Maine, and Berlin, Germany, he also creates artist’s books and large-scale installations that explore ideas of self-sufficiency, self-preservation and self-exclusion as models for living. Best of all, he possess an incredible double-barreled last name, so of course we had to give this man a shout out.
Tania Shcheglova and Roman Noven are a Ukrainian photography duo also known as Synchrodogs whose surreal imagery frames the human body in odd-yet-intimate relations with the surrounding landscapes. This particular series, Reverie Sleep, takes this theme of the “strange natural” a bit further, drawing on the expansive and unearthly realms of lucid dreams. Made with the support of the Pinchuk Art Foundation in 2013, this project emerged from visions the artists experienced while wandering somewhere between sleep and awakening:
“[Reverie Sleep] deals with the stage of Non Rapid Eye Movement sleep, during which some people may experience hypnagogic hallucinations caused by [the] natural process of falling asleep. Experimenting with those lucid dreaming techniques, [Synchrodogs] woke themselves up in the middle of the night to make a note of what they had just seen, gathering their dreams to be staged afterwards.” (Source)
In order to recreate their dream imagery, Synchrodogs traveled to Iceland where they immersed themselves in dangerous and bleakly beautiful environments. As they explained in an interview with NYMag, they shot near “glaciers where you can fall into an ice hole and be found in a week, or in hot lakes where you can get boiled alive if there is a geyser which decides to eject hot water while you are in [it]” (Source). This earthly threat lends the images an impassive quality, just like the intangible lands we explore in our sleep while uncertain of what threats or joys await us.
Inhabiting Synchrodogs’ eerily sublime landscapes are female figures, nude or bedecked in colorful paints and surreal costumes. Bodies morph into ferns and fruit, or lie on cold earth and exalt in the light of an alien sun. Each figure is simultaneously human and inhuman, existing in a hallucinogenic, unquestioning state that dissolves and realigns our notions of reality. Shifting between forms and consciousness, they represent creatures of a limitless and symbolic universe.
Artaksiniya is a Russian girl who’s “lifeblood is fashion for the moment.” Her illustrations are whimsical and odd yet altogether quite endearing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her work in Vogue sometime next Spring or something.
Tom Price melts a lot of plastic in his work. He bends the distinctly man-made material to his specifications, creating highly conceptual chairs, tables, trees, and other objects. It’s easy to see which aspects of Price’s sculptures are the result of his molten process, and some element of intense heat and power lingers long after required cooling periods. You can almost feel the plastics melting in your hands, and smell the awful scent of burning tar. Such lingering power is what makes these works so intriguing. They’re also beautiful, but who’s counting? (via)
Artist Rik Garrett explores physical relationships in his series Symbiosis. By painting directly onto the photograph, Garrett literally fuses two bodies into one. Two writhing bodies seem to become one organism. It’s a nearly a literal interpretation of “two becoming one flesh”.
Garrett says, “Symbiosis is a new series exploring ideas regarding love, relationships, magic, Alchemy and mutually beneficial partnerships in nature.”
While the idea sounds romantic the imagery can appear otherwise. The single masses almost appear to be struggling against itself, perhaps alluding to the complexities of sexuality and relationships.
Light has always been an essential element in artist Hillary Wiedemann‘s work; her earlier projects exploring the relationship between light and glass, often bending, refracting and shaping light, with regular investigations into the seen, the unseen, the visible, and the nearly visible. Her installations have quickly matured into multi-sensory experiences that seem to evoke a sense of longing for the ability to make light a tangible thing.