A few weeks ago I made a series of posts from my trip to Sharjah & Dubai. I didn’t post much about why I was there and what I was doing but the above video should shed some light. It documents the construction of a large scale 2 story sculpture titled “Eclipse (Watch Tower) built in the atrium of the Sharjah Art Museum for the Sharjah Biennial.
It’s Halloween season, and campy macabre aesthetic surrounds us, making the general public a little more open to the darker parts of our existence. Reflecting back on the origin of this holiday, All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain, the pagan celebration, it’s clear that death and the unseen world is the foundation. Our ancestors believed that the veil to the other side became thin or disappeared completely on this night, allowing the spirit world to comingle with the physical and living world. There are many people and cultures that still hold this belief and practice today.
In light of the season I began searching through aesthetically significant contemporary art that finds its foundations in death and dying. This is Part 1 of 2 of the scope of art about death, ranging widely in medium and other interwoven themes. Damien Hirst, Angelo Filomeno, Joel Peter Witkin, Konrad Smolenski and Doris Salcedo all embrace the subject of death and dying in a widely varied manner. As well, all are highly revered in their own right for their individual continuums of art produced over the years.
Damien Hirst is no stranger to controversy as an artist. He always delivers shock value well and does not shy away from creating work that makes viewers squirm. Materials he used to create the pieces featured here range from dead flies, to animal carcasses, formaldehyde and maggots. Hirst’s works don’t just discuss the business of birth, death and dying- they display it in action right before your eyes, in a way that some of the work nearly becomes about life itself.
We all know the story of Vincent van Gogh’s ear, an organ that the artist is rumored to have severed from his own head in a fit of lovesick madness. For her project Sugababe, the artist Diemut Strebe has recreated the living ear of the legendary Post-Impressionist. Teaming up with scientists and using an advanced 3D printing technique, Strebe constructed the true-to-life organ from a sample of the late artist’s DNA found in an envelope that he had licked in 1883 and live cartilage from the ear of Lieuwe van Gogh, a grandson of the painter’s brother. The replicated ear, now on view at The Center for Art and Media in Karlshruhe in Germany, is kept alive by being suspended in a solution laced with nutrients.
Strebe’s installation includes a microphone into which viewers can speak. The sound is then carried to the ear, which hears speech as a crackling noise that is projected through speakers for all to listen. For the artist, Sugababe is a physical manifestation of Theseus’ paradox, wherein the ancient Greek hero was asked if a ship would remain the same if all its individual parts were replaced with new ones. Here, Strebe asks if this clone of an ear might in fact be considered the same ear worn by van Gogh. Tragically unable to respond the viewers who speak to it, the organ seems startlingly alien. Though it is composed of the same elements as the original ear, it lacks the humanity and the romance we ascribe the artist whose molecular biology it shares.
Given the tragic history of the artist, Strebe’s work carries with it a sense of loss and poignancy. Where the living van Gogh was unappreciated— reviled, even—in his time, here even his tiny organ is preserved with the utmost care, his body transformed into a valuable work of art in and of itself. (via Design Boom and The Daily Beast)
Inner architectural worlds open up in the works of Matthew Simmonds. Beginning his career as a student of art history at the University of East Anglia, the artist gradually moved into sculptural and architectural work, studying stone carving at Weymouth College and later participating in the restoration of several notable monuments, including Westminster Abbey and the cathedrals of Salisbury and Ely. Following these experiences, he began working on his stone sculptures, applying his combined knowledge of history, architecture, and stonework to carve miniature sculptures depicting hallowed interiors.
Simmonds’ works are masterpieces of perception. Despite their small scale, his sculptures absorb the viewer’s imagination with illusions of infinite space; under sunlit arches, through dark corridors, and up monolithic steps, one can almost hear the reverberation of the voice, the lifting of the soul as it passes through deep, sacred spaces. Light plays an important role, warming and chilling the stone and accentuating the finely-hewn details. Invoking architectural styles from ancient and medieval histories, Simmonds visually and emotionally connects us with a Western cultural past; as his artist’s statement compellingly describes, “Drawing on the formal language and philosophy of architecture, the work explores themes of positive and negative form, the significance of light and darkness, and the relationship between nature and human endeavour “ (Source)
Visit Simmonds’ website to see an impressive collection of his work.
Let’s face it no matter how much we learn about the benefits of good nutrition junk food will always remain part of our diet. Even if we’re not eating high calorie high processed food everyday there are times when you ‘just need it’. Nothing beats the crispy crunch of French Fries or a delectably cheesy quesadilla after an exhausting day at work. It makes for a nice comfy meal when you’re just too tired to make something healthy. Then there are those who would rather eat junk food over everything else. Who hasn’t heard a friend say they went to a fancy restaurant and afterwards thought the local diner was better? My mom used to say she liked hamburgers better than steak and I’m sure she still does.
Poking fun at this idea is a project by “fake chef” Jacques La Merde. Under this fictional name, La Merde creates junk food dishes reimagined and plated as high end nouveau cuisine. Through his intepretations we see a Coney Island corn dog broken down into fancy morsels metaphorically selling for $30 a plate. The food is almost unrecognizable from its original state and one has to look very closely to see which junk food staple the artist is recreating. Some of the barely familiar items on view are hostess cupcakes, cheese and crackers, hard boiled eggs, creamsicles, hot pockets, tv dinners, dunkin munchkins and the list goes on.
La Merde displays new creations on an instagram account which currently has 60k followers. Just another testament to the public’s love of all things bad for you disguised as something else. (via escapekit)
At a time when makers have more tools at their fingertips than ever before, it’s intriguing to see an artist dedicated to perfecting the use of the most basic, universal medium: pencil on paper. The delicate, slowly unraveling works of Bay Area artist Claire Colette showcase a deep understanding and intimacy with her chosen medium. The works are an investigation of fragmentation—reminiscent of destroyed VHS film, magazine clippings or even slightly fragmented memories. The works reveal the artist’s interest in capturing, remixing and representing an instantaneous moment, despite the fact that each piece is slowly and meticulously rendered in graphite.
Specializing in state-of-the-art projects and renowned for their sleek aesthetic, digital artists Ewelina Aleksandrowicz, known as Tikul, and Andrzej Wojtas, or mi$ Gogo, collectively comprise Pussykrew, a partnership focused on inventive new media projects.
Experimental in nature and out-of-this-world in design, the work that makes up Pussykrew’s exciting oeuvre evokes a futuristic sensibility. Through video installations, methods of 3D-printing, performance art, and electronic works, the duo seeks to construct “gender-bending visual journeys, filtered through carnal data mesh, liquid apocalyptic dysphoria and 3D fantasy shuffle.”
While the methods used and the materials explored by the twosome vary, perhaps their most celebrated projects are their 3D-printed pieces, for which they were christened the “Artist of the Year” at London’s 3D Print Show earlier this year. Spanning lustrous blobs of ambiguous, organic shapes slathered in car paint and androgynous busts with seemingly liquefied skin, Pussykrew’s 3D-printed pieces capture both the duo’s innovative process and their inclination toward a streamlined aesthetic. Noting that “the boundaries between the virtual and the physical has been obliterated, [and] carnal matter exists with a technological component as a hybrid,” the pair gravitates toward this method of sculpture, combining their experience in the digital realm with their inherent artistic abilities.
To see more of their otherworldly work, check out Pussykrew’s tumblr, Unidentified Fabulous Objects!
I realize that Christmas is officially over, but to maintain that holiday spirit for as long as possible I wanted to write about Yrjo Edelmann. Hailing from Sweden, Edelmann worked as a comic strip illustrator for many years until he started to paint. His “parcels” became his signature and caught my eye as exceptional trompe-l’ oeil images. At first I thought they were just giant, poorly wrapped presents, but upon closer inspection I learned that they are in fact impressively intricate oil paintings.
Occupying a space between illusion and hyper-realism Edelmann’s paintings pull from the influences of surrealists such as Rene Magritte, Giorgio de Chirico and Marcel Duchamp. Capturing every wrinkle and tear in the paper Edelmann’s paintings float a few inches off the wall, furthering the confusion about their dimension. A viewer might wonder what’s inside these rather poorly wrapped packages, endowing Edelmann’s paintings with a sense of both mystery and humor.