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Alika Cooper’s Dark, Alluring Patchwork Fabric Portraiture

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“Using a set of impossible perspectives, I try to make the perspectives possible again.” – Alika Cooper

Using additive layering techniques, Los Angeles-based artist Alika Cooper builds up fragmented portraits taken by some of the most famous fashion photographers of the last century. She dissects and rebuilds moments where women have been placed on the other end of the camera. The works simultaneously point to and slightly alter or break down the  photographic work of Helmut Newton, Lisette Model, Umbo (Otto Umbehr) and Man Ray. Cooper deftly navigates the line between beauty and intrigue, often shifting the original composition’s angles and direction into an abstraction that bears a small imprint of the woman represented. The figures are no longer passive, but become slightly heavier and more foreboding when rendered in textile—with the gentle patterning of the fabric’s natural weft and weave bringing a grounded physicality to these works.

The material itself is an interesting choice for a figurative medium, especially since Cooper is recreating iconic portraits of women. Her reasons for working with the material have conceptual roots in the historically female connection to sewing, quilting, textile work and handicraft. The building up of negative and positive space is a more painterly approach to working with textile, yet the natural push and pull of the fabric when stretched across the visual plane perfectly echoes the tensions found in the dark, unsettling aura of her subject matter.

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Mallory Morrison Captures The Frozen Beauty Of Women Floating And Falling In Water

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These stunning images come from photographer Mallory Morrison‘s latest series, FOG, and combine the unearthly nature of life underwater with the beauty of the human form. An experienced underwater photographer, Morrison works with models to push the limits of what is possible.

Poetic and succinct, her artist statement provides further explanation in the impetus behind her work on this series:

Our path is not always clear.  Finding our way through life, figuring out what we what and how to get it can be like searching aimlessly through a foggy abyss. In FOG, Morrison captures feelings of uncertainty, desperation, and ultimate release throughout a journey to the water’s surface.  These feelings also reflect Morrison’s artistic process of holding her breath underwater to capture each submerged form.  The series tells the story of accepting the unknown:  that which is on the other side of the surface and beyond the frame. 
Her dive into underwater photography began when she was photographing dancers, and found herself constantly pondering how to eliminate gravity as the barrier keeping her from the shots she wanted. After trying trampolines and other tricks in the air, Morrison decided to try water instead. Seen underwater, the figures have an otherworldly mysticism about them. The reflective underside of the water’s surface shows a warped mirror image, and infuses each photograph with an intriguing symmetry. The colors are muted and few, but beautiful, nearly translucent.

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Manifest Destiny! – A Cabin In The City Sky Line

Manifest Destiny! is a temporary rustic cabin occupying on of the last remaining unclaimed spaces in downtown San Francisco. Positioned above and between well established city buildings the tiny cabin can be seen affixed to the side of the Hotel des Arts, floating above the restaurant Le Central like an anomalous outgrowth of the contemporary streetscape.

Created by Jenny Chapman and Mark Reigelman, Manifest Destiny  is a commentary/critique on the unwavering perseverance of San Francisco’s early settlers.  During the mid 19th century, as the eastern United States became over-crowded and expensive, the West offered limitless possibilities for those willing and able to make the journey.  The drive to seek new possibilities and establish a better life at any cost is the conceptual motivation for this project. See more photos of this piece and some installation shots after the jump.

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Wei Li Makes Dangerous Popsicles In The Shape Of HIV And Other Viruses


Wei Li

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San Francisco-based artist and designer Wei Li is making tasty treats with unpalatable connotations. Would you lick a cactus? Suck on a virus? Would just the idea of it change your experience of a dessert? In “Dangerous Popscicle” Li makes desserts in the shape of cacti, MRSA, influenza, chicken pox, escherichia coli and HIV from just water, sugar and coloring. To make the popsicles, Li created a series of one and two part silicone molds modeled in Rhino and printed on an Objet 3d printer. She writes on her website bold or italic:

“What will happen when we put these dangerous things on one of our most sensitive organs, our tongues? Does pain really bring pleasure? Is there beauty in user-unfriendly things?

Dangerous Popsicles create a unique sensory experience. Before tasting with your tongue, you first taste with your eyes and mind. The popsicles are nothing but water and sugar, but ideas of deadly viruses and the spikiness of cacti are enough to stimulate your senses, even before your first taste.”

There are inherent contradictions in this project—the colors of the items look delicious, but the subject is unappetizing, but the surface is pleasingly tactile, but the structure is painful.

Aside from making the molds and freezing the pops, Li is also interested in the social interaction this project fosters. How do people react to the frozen unsavories? Try it yourself—find directions on how to make this project at Instructables. (via The Creator’s Project)

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Filippo Romano’s Portraits of A Nairobi Slum’s Door-To-Door Salesmen

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In photographer Filippo Romano’s fascinating series titled Nomadic Sellers, he documents the roaming salespeople of Africa. The images are mostly focused in eastern Nairobi and specifically in the slum of Mathare, which has a population of 600,000 people within 3 square miles. Each portrait features the peddler and their wares against the washed-out backdrop of the city streets.

We see the men with shoes and bras tied around their necks and arms full of music and wooden utensils. Their earnings are meager, and the goods they sell make a tenth of what pesticide peddlers yield. Those salespeople have most lucrative product and stand to make between 1,000 to 2,000 shellini (10 to 20 euros) in profit.

Romano notes that selling on the streets and going door-to-door is one of the most common trades in the African world. A seller who travels with goods on their back has most likely created their job through the necessity to fend for themselves. They are entrepreneurs.

Nomadic Sellers points to the infectious nature of global consumerism, and how even the far parts of the world want to own a pair of Nikes. At its very core, the series is an intriguing look at the innate human desire to own stuff, no matter how necessary or frivolous it may seem. (Via Feature Shoot)

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Concrete & Sex: Sasha Kurmaz Juxtaposes Nude Figures Against Scenes Of Urban Desolation

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In a book titled Concrete & Sex, photographer Sasha Kurmaz juxtaposes nude figures against urban and industrial scenes of post-Soviet Kiev. At a first glance, the images may not seem to have a lot in common, other than the similar tones of concrete and skin. One side displays bleak horizons and the hard façades of cold and crumbling buildings; the other takes us inside, to candid moments of warmth, flesh, and bodily expression. By splicing these images together, however, Kurmaz masterfully shakes their emotional and political similarities into relief; both resonate with a sense of alienation and the vying for connection. Bodies (with their faces hidden) and buildings become landscapes of departed dreams, made and unmade again by the social and political conditions that shape them.

However, there is more than desolation in these juxtapositions. In comparing images of sex with devastated urban spaces, Concrete & Sex reverberates with a subtle resistance, a quiet protest against a system that strips the individual of power and evacuates life of meaning and beauty. The book’s description explores this further:

“On one hand, it’s impossible to ignore the political implications of this approach—as in so much of his output, one finds here the blunt advocacy of sex, vandalism, and, of course, artistic expression as meaningful responses to repressive conditions, and it doesn’t feel like a stretch to view this work, at least partially, as a comment on the status of the individual (whose identity within these pages is repeatedly [and tellingly] obscured by anonymity and/or physical distortion) within the broader mechanisms of public ideology and fading history.” (Source)

If the nude body can manifest its oppression and exploitation, it can also enact change. By moving, twisting, and contorting against architectures of despair, the figures in Kurmaz’s photos become enduring signifiers of life and self-expression within a deteriorating system.

Concrete & Sex can be purchased on PogoBooks. Visit Kurmaz’s website to learn more. (Via Dazed)

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Jan Manski Creates Mankinds Most Despicable Modern Habits


Onania is an infected universe that has been accumulating character and detail since Jan Manski’s MA at Central Saint Martins in 2010. Onania’s development has been unrelentingly pervasive of Manski’s practice, appropriate to its nature as a diseased scourge.

Manski’s meticulous and total attention to minute detail has borne a product encased in the methodologies of this eminently inviting and hostile environment. Onania hosts an alternate reality and fertile breeding ground for mankind’s most despicable modern habits. Narcissism bred from frantic consumer culture is shown at its most destructive, with Onania’s inhabitants seeking its prime offering – unadulterated and uninterrupted pleasure.

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Christopher St. Leger Lets The Light In

We posted Christopher St. Leger’s work a while back but it’s so good I decided to post it again. The light and the looseness of his brushstroke is amazing!

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