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Gerd Ludwig Documents Chernobyl’s Lasting Legacy

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28 years ago, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion released radioactive particles into the atmosphere, spreading radiation over much of the western USSR and Europe. Over the past 20 years, photographer Gerd Ludwig has returned to Chernobyl several times in order to document the still-lasting impact of the disaster.

The first time Ludwig visited Chernobyl, in 1993, he was limited on the extent of the sites he could visit, but eventually got special permission from the police to be taxied around. During this trip, Ludwig met many elderly people who had decided to stay in their homes, ignoring radiation levels. Ludwig tells Slate, “At first Ukrainian officials discouraged them, branding them as illegal residents, but soon turned a blind eye, realizing that they preferred to die on their own contaminated soil instead of a broken heart in anonymous city suburbs.”

By 2005, the laws and regulations surrounding the exclusion zone loosened and Ludwig was able to tour Reactor No. 4, an area so contaminated that it could only be visited for a maximum of 15 minutes per day due to radiation levels. Ludwig says, “While photographing, I needed to dodge the spray of sparks from the drillers in highly contaminated concrete dust, and I knew that I had less than 15 minutes to capture impacting images of an environment that few have ever seen and that I might never access again. The adrenaline surge was extraordinary.”
In 2011, Ludwig returned to Chernobyl supported by Kickstarter donations. It was there, sitting with one of the people who handle cleanup and containment efforts, when he learned of the Fukushima nuclear plant explosion, prompting further consideration of the disastrous consequences of nuclear power sources. During his most recent visit last year, Ludwig was able to document the emerging New Safe Confinement, an advanced dome that will protect the reactor from further deterioration as robots begin to dismantle and decontanimate the area.
Ludwig continues his work documenting changes and lasting effects of the Chernobyl disaster, and is currently raising money on Kickstarter to help fund a high-quality book called “The Long Shadow of Chernobyl” featuring his photo documentation. Ludwig hopes that continued documentation of Chernobyl will help spread more awareness of the dangers of nuclear energy. (via slate)

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Christopher David White’s Incredible Ceramic Sculpture Imitates The Look Of Decaying Wood

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Christopher David White has the ability to freeze living elements. He offers the possibility for the viewer to endlessly admire and contemplate at any given time the details of a piece of wood. In this series, he blends a camel, chocolate color scheme with grey and concrete tones. The artist uses symbols to express underlying feelings about life and death. “Neither good nor bad, decay is simply a natural process of our world that at times can produce deeply moving and beautiful effects”.

Two symmetric hands reaching out to each other, linked by an unsteady, disappearing bridge. A twisted root punching through a wall, struggling for its life. A human face looking at the sky and what seems like back blood spreading from its head and its open mouth.

The sculptures create mixed feelings of empathy and serenity. Wood is mystical and symbolic. It represents a tree’s strength, wisdom and eternal life. What we see in Christopher David White’s ceramic sculptures are the reflection of what will eventually happen to us. Eventually we will die too, and sitting next to a deteriorating piece of wood that once belonged to a majestic and awe-inspiring tree is less frightening. “Through the use of trompe l’oeil, we look closer; we rediscover the amazement, joy, and tranquility that come from our environment. At the same time, we witness our impermanence by evenhandedly dialing in on decay”. (via TRENF)

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Andrés Medina

Most of Andrés Medina‘s photographs are of places and things we might overlook or have forgotten about.

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Sound Of Decay- Labor Day Special

We got the day off today but here’s some good music videos to keep you going until we come back. Some of it is new, and some of it is decades old, but all are good. Who knows maybe you’ll findsomething new that you like (or hate).

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Yang Du

BUDA AND PEST, A/W 2009

BUDA AND PEST, A/W 2009

BUDA AND PEST, A/W 2009

Surrealist Chinese fashion designer Yang Du’s collection entitled, “It Is a Dream” blurs the lines between art, fashion, and fetishism. Du has already established a cult following in both Japan and her homeland with a reputation as an artist-turned-fashion designer extraordinaire. Her collection, inspired by a spiritual journey to India, is set to go on exhibition in the UK, Scotland, and New York. Awesome to see a representative from the motherland coming up in the fashion industry! Check out more images at Chinese Designers’ Region.

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Mark Schoening’s Explosive Paintings

 

Mark Schoening‘s paintings appear to explode on each panel.  Colors and patterns seem to erupt like uncontrollable viruses supplanting the composition.  In a way Schoening’s work develops in a similar fashion.  Each piece begins with an idea, information.  The concept is elaborated on further and further layering glitter, resin, silkscreen, acrylic, latex, and spraypaint.  His newest works are an investigation of the way floods of information are spread and consumed.  Schoening says:

“I do not have the luxury of escape.  In this century, in this moment, few of us do.  Information piles up: the advertisements, the mechanisms, the media, the people.  I am attached to it, in the midst of it, a part of it.  However, as a painter, I am also a witness and a reactionary.”

Mark Schoening opens a new solo exhibit, Recordings of a Lone Infantryman, November 29, 2012 at Marine Conemporary in Venice, California.

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Beautiful/Decay Book 8 Cover Sneak Peak

Beautiful/Decay Book: 8 is on its way to us from the printers and we just can’t wait to share with you all the amazing artists that we have featured. We’re not ready to announce who made the cut and what the theme is just yet but I thought i’d tease you with just a small portion of the cover. Why don’t you take a guess and see if you can figure out what’s on the cover. It’s one of our best cover images yet and I know it will blow you away. Make sure to reserve your very own copy of Beautiful/Decay Book 8 by subscribing today. We have only printed 1,500 books and once they are sold out they will never be reprinted again!

 

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Artist’s Self Portraits Spanning Over Five Years Document The Painful Progression Into Alzheimer’s Disease

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1995

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Alzheimer’s Disease

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Alzheimer’s Disease

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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.

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