Some of my photographer friends hate on digitally manipulated images but how can you when photographers like Koen Demuynck makes such breathtakingly powerful images with a bit of help from our old pal Mr. Computer? Each image is more amazing than the next with piles of elephants, crazy chimney sweepers, and Santa throwing a very naughty new years party. All of these and more after the jump!
Cristina De Middel brings a striking beauty to space travel in her series The Afronauts. Her series is based on the aspirations of Edward Makuka Nkoloso – a 1960’s Zambian school teacher who wanted to land his countrymen on the moon before the United States or the Soviet Union. Nkoloso was openly mocked, even by journalists. Through his story, the series’ pleasant imagery gives way to more serious underpinnings. De Middel says:
“The images are beautiful and the story is pleasant at a first level, but it is built on the fact that nobody believes that Africa will ever reach the moon. It hides a very subtle critique to our position towards the whole continent and our prejudices.”
Although difficult to generalize, a common theme ties together the exhibitions currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU). “At the Far Edge of Words” and “Imaginary Homelands” engage on some level, with the complex reflections of the artists cultural identity in relation to their exchanges with western culture, concepts of otherness, and navigating the hybrid spaces between while defining ‘home’. Rather than allowing these notions to become static, absolute, or restrictive, the artists invoke politics, humour, and nostalgia as a means to mediate their competing definitions of identity.
Phillip Toledano’sPhonesex project reveals not just the identity of operators who answer the phone when you call a 1-900 number, but their desires, fears, motivations, and most memorable calls.
A contract of mutual self-delusion exists between the caller and phone sex operator. The caller imagines he is speaking to his most secret fantasy-and the operator willingly plays the part.
A phone sex operator must be able understand the caller’s wants. But more importantly, they must be able to decrypt the unspoken desires. Those things that are too preposterous, too scandalous, or humiliating to articulate.
From a few mumbled words, a phone sex operator must weave and finely detailed fantasy encounter. It requires a vivid imagination, acting ability, and above all, a deep understanding of the human appetite. What do we crave? What words have the maximum yield? What tone will most effectively reach into a man’s trousers?
Artist Wen Fang has a way turning an eye toward the often overlooked. In a way, some of her work memorializes the unfortunately common. This first installation – a room filled with hanging knives printed with images of garbage – is titled Rain and illustrates this well. She explains the personal story and Chinese idiom behind the installation:
“One day I was on a public bus, heading to a suburban enclave not far from my home on the outskirts of Beijing. The road was lined on both sides by filthy, stagnant drainage ditches. The disgusting smell of the water wafted into the bus, immediately wiping out the hunger I was feeling a moment before. The water was blue-grey, and looked quite thick. The surface was covered in floating instant noodle packages, popsicle sticks, rotting vegetables and other garbage that couldn’t be sold as scrap. Suddenly I saw a stray dog at the edge of the ditch, trying to drink the water. Several times he would approach the water with his snout, only to be repulsed by the powerful stench. In the end, I guess he was just too thirsty, and he hesitantly stuck his snout in the water, taking a few gulps. It sent pangs through my heart. Lots of migrants live by the drainage ditches. Their kids run around like wild dogs, and are just about as dirty. About half of their toys were picked up along the side of this road. None of the adults control their actions, as these migrant workers are too busy trying to eke out a living, and the old people just sit there by the side of the road. The Chinese refer to these situations as knives raining down from the heavens…that is to say; this is the worst it can get…I don’t know if this is the worst possible situation, but these knives often cut right into my heart. That’s why I make them, so that everyone can see these knives. Economic development is a sound idea, but how much money does it take to be truly wealthy? I spent my childhood playing in the wilderness around here, while these kids are spending their childhoods playing on the trash heaps. I really wish these kids could grow up in gardens, just as we promised. But what I really don’t know is, when we finally have enough money, whether or not the garden will be anything more than a bunch of sharp knives.…”
London based Wilfrid Wood’s quirky abstractions based on the human head are a wonderful reminder that the act of play should always be present in art. Created out of baked clay and airbrushed to perfection these silly interpretations must be as much fun to make as they are to look at. (via)
Forgotten Boneyard is the 100% real animal bone work of artist Tim Prince. In addition to the one-of-a-kind handcrafted creatures in bone, Prince offers a growing selection of wet specimens through Etsy. To me the real standout of the entire collection is Audrii muscipula (pictured above), an homage to Audrey II, the carnivorous plant from 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors made of mink vertebrae/scapula, box turtle shells, a skunk skull, coyote teeth, and raccoon mandibles. A mouse skull and other bones decorate the soil.
Carlo Van de Roer‘s Portrait Machine series is a special kind of portrait photography. De Roer’s portraits are of friends, family, and well known personalities (you may have recognized Miranda July in the first photograph) with a Polaroid Aura Camera. Related to spirit photography, Aura photography uses electromagnetic readings to create the “auras” of colors in the photographs as well as a report explaining the reading. Though the process, readings, and reports are hardly scientific, they reveal much about how much we invest in portraiture. We continually attempt to translate an inner person from outer appearances, particular from a person’s face. The aura photography further reveals to what extent each person can be a mystery to another, even between those familiar to each other.