Jonathan Andrew‘s minimal photos of World War 2 bunkers are beautiful and disturbing all at once. These utilitarian structures meant to protect soldiers are reminders of both the horror of war and the innovation and advances in technology that conflicts bring on.
Alzheimer’s Disease is sometimes called The Long Goodbye, a gradual loss of memory, self, and eventually, life. When artist William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s he began to make a series of self-portraits that would continue for five years. Looking at the pictures in chronological order is looking at a life diminished by degrees. As his technical skill ebbed, so did Utermohlen’s apparent sense of self. Still, the urge to create persisted.
In an essay about the self-portraits, Utermohlen’s wife, Pat, wrote:
“In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness. The great talent remains, but the method changes. He sometimes uses water-colour and paints a series of masks, perhaps because he could more quickly express his fear. In both the oils and water-colours these marvellous self portraits express his desperate attempt to understand his condition. There is a new freedom of expression, the paint is applied more thickly, art-historically speaking the artist seems less linear and classical, more expressionist, and I see ghosts of his German heritage.”
Worldwide, nearly 36 million people have Alzheimer’s or a related dementia—almost everyone will be touched by Alzheimer’s in some way during their lifetimes. Although Pat Utermohlen told the New York Times, “It’s so strange to be known for something you’re doing when you’re rather ill,” it was also a testament to William Utermolen’s ability as an artist that he was able to transcend his own experience, even unknowingly, and create work that was at once profound, heart-breaking, and universal.
A collection of illustrations from Brian Rea‘s ongoing series for the New York Times‘s SundayStyles column about love and heartbreak. Nailed it.
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.”
Charlotte Niel lives and works in San Francisco.
I don’t know if describing Benedict Radcliffe as a welder, fabricator, or furniture maker would do him justice because he has a variety of metal bending and graphic abilities as well as successfully joining two VW Golfs together. Radcliffe has done some commission work for Paul Smith, Puma, Red Bull, Comme des Garcons, and has some beautiful personal projects up on his website.
A woman sits alone beneath hundreds of dangling scissors; they teeter above her, metallic mouths open and sharp edges facing downwards. Calmly, she sews. As part of 2011’s The Mending Project, the performance artist Beili Liu put herself in this position, asking audience members to cut away portions of a large piece of fabric and patiently threading it back together.
In juxtaposing the feelings brutality and danger evoked by the scissors with the softness and careful mending of fabric, the performance symbolizes the cyclical process of violence and healing. The scissors are ominous, and yet Liu performs patiently. The work relies upon a symbiotic relationship between destruction and creation; without the audience’s cutting of the sheet-like fabric, the artistic process would not take place. The work is uncomfortable and dangerous, but at the same time, Liu’s re-threaded tapestry, which begins to cover the floor, is strangely comforting. Ultimately, the solace of the artist’s concentrated mending rivals the aggression of the scissors.
The Mending Project also centers around ideas of women in art. Upon until Judy Chicago and still to this very day, women’s craft work has been scoffed at and rejected by museums and galleries. Liu’s work helps to change all that; here, she embraces sewing as “a woman’s work […] a traditional woman’s craft,” and she lends the art form an unexpected hardness and edge. In this picture of femininity, the woman and her work aren’t weak but powerful; through her careful process, she works with the notion of danger and transforms it into something unexpected and, in many ways, not frightful. In her own words, she, the woman, “is the one who […] creates,” finding resilience and fertile power within an unsettling context. (via This is Colossal)
Jose Lerma is a New York based painter and professor. Drop out of law school and paint! Delightfully humongous. Just in case you may not have seen the almighty Book 2. More after the jump….
In an effort to raise awareness about environmental degradation and decreasing water quality, Washington-based photographer Michael Dyrland turned some botched plans to go surfing into a series of disturbingly prophetic images. In October 2014, he traveled to Los Angeles to take photos for a friend who lives there. “I was really looking forward to this trip because I wanted to make the most of it and try my hand at surfing,” he explained in a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay. After a night of heavy rainfall, Dyrland asked when they could head to the beach and his friend was aghast. Apparently, following a storm, the 10 billion gallons of runoff contains “sewage, garbage, oil, and shit” — the types of human-derived waste that transform the ocean into a cesspool of disease.
From this unsettling experience, Hazmat Surfing was born. Dyrland wanted to show the world in a creative way what a future of continued environmental abuse and neglect would look like, and how it would impact our lifestyles that we take for granted. Coordinating through email and Google maps, Dyrland chose LA’s famous Venice Beach for the shoot location. A lifeguard was posted to keep an eye on the surfers, and out they went, garbed in gas masks and full-body suits that glisten a sickly yellow against the storm-bruised sky. Capturing the surfers treading water, riding the waves, and gazing seaward, Dyrland has instilled sport photography with a quiet-but-powerful social message. It is not unrealistic to believe that our relationship with the sea might one day look as dark and alienating as this.
Dyrland hopes to continue Hazmat Surfing at different locations in the US and beyond. His next shoot is aimed for Rio, where he hopes to “focus on the water quality issues and let [his] photos speak louder then words.” Visit his website, Facebook, and Instagram to follow this fascinating project. (Via Feature Shoot)