If the still above seems uncannily familiar to you- it’s because it’s from Michael Jackson’s unforgettable music video, “Thriller;” sans MJ, flesh-eating (choreographed) Zombies, or any sign of human life, for that matter. In the video “Untitled #100, (Fantasia),” artist Josh Azzarella took two years to meticulously remove everything but the murky rolling fog of a smoke machine and ominously ambient noises. The full length feature can be viewed on the humorously titled Funk of 40,000 Years. The result is a haunting look at a seeming post-apocalyptic landscape; robbed of its ghoulish face paint and kitsch, the video is a frightening look at what is left behind. The film is certainly imbued with new symbolic meaning now that the prince of pop himself has left the building, so to speak.
Josh will be showing this video at Mark Moore Gallery this Saturday, from 5-7pm. They will also be showing artist Kim Rugg (who has a similarly “systematic” practice of cutting out every single letter from newspapers and arranging them alphabetically). Shown in conjunction, an interesting dialogue regarding notions of truth and fiction within the media ensues between the two artists. If you are in LA, this exhibition is not to be missed!
This unusual carnival certainly isn’t the kind you find at a kid’s party. For “Funland: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Fairground,” artistic duo Bompas & Parr show off a series of bold and whimsical installations at New York City’s Museum of Sex. Immersive artworks include “Jump for Joy,” a giant bouncy house composed of blow-up breasts and “Grope Mountain,” a rock wall featuring phalluses and vulvas. As visitors munch on tasty treats, they are invited into “The Tunnel of Love,” a maze that ultimately ends at the G-Spot, an erogenous zone in the vaginal canal discovered by Ernst Gräfenberg.
While this all may seem like fun and games, the exhibition also illustrates earnest cultural ideas. Here, the artists worked closely with Professor Vanessa Toulmin, the Director if the UK National Fairground Archive, to illustrate the historical associations between traveling fairgrounds and sexuality. Toulmin proposes that at the apex of the industrial revolution of the mid-19th century, carnivals began to emerge as sites for “immoral” behavior.
The St. Bartholomew fair, she notes, was singled out for its sensuous—and overtly erotic— atmosphere. In this uncanny universe of play and mischief, the puritan ideals of the upper classes were tossed to the wayside. The fast-paced amusement rides were quite the novelty at that time, and dark tunnels and cars allowed for discreet caresses to pass between lovers. Some fairgrounds even charged admittance for burlesque and strip-tease shows. Bompas & Parr’s “Funland” certainly captures both the thrilling and the farcical aspects of the carnival scene. Simultaneously amusing and disturbing, the exhibit engages both the mind and the body. The show is currently on view and will run through Spring 2015. (via Design Boom)
Tomas Saraceno is a master of transforming a space and infusing it with an interactive surreal quality. His installations that are constructed to provide viewers with the experience that they are walking on a cloud are absolutely captivating. The soft dream-like magic of his work is more tactile and intimate, however, in this paper installation Cloud House featuring cloud like formations made only out of smaller geometric matte paper structures.
Scott Lickstein’s surrealist pop culture infused paintings are ethereal and witty. He combines seemingly disparate imagery into one canvas evoking both a sardonic and dreamy aesthetic. The layers of reference are reminiscent of collage work, something he also dabbles in, in addition to photography and video. Lickstein: “Robert Motherwell declared collage as the most important discovery of the twentieth century. He wasn’t referring to the idea of cut and paste. He was pondering the exploration of infinite potential. Contemporary life is ocular bombardment. Content is overlapped beyond the veil of the conscious mind. Control and manipulation of this data is the game for now and for the foreseeable future for this artist.”
In a rather intense bit of wordplay, artist Vik Muniz (whose fantastic illusory work has previously featured several times here) has teamed up with Marcelo Coelho to create intricate and near-impossibly detailed sandcastles. Taking a single grain of scan, the duo has spent four years perfecting a process of microscopically etching fortress-like castles into single grains of sand. Each piece of sand measures less than one half of a single millimeter are created using an incredibly focused ion beam (FIB – typically used to create microchips) and documented with a scanning electron microscope, later enlarged to show the incredibly fine detail of the the project.
Muniz explains why the duo uses sand, as opposed to post-photographic editing (such as photoshop), “When someone tells you it’s a grain of sand, there’s a moment where your reality falls apart and you have to reconstruct it. You have to step back and ask what the image is and what it means.’” Adds Coelho, “I think photography is just re-starting. There’s a whole new kind of photography emerging now. A lot of it is happening because of this combination between computers and cameras, and story telling and narratives can emerge as a result.”
We first featured Klaas Van der Linden’s dark and mysterious paintings last year. I’m happy to say that Klaas is back with a new batch of work that raises the bar with intricate detail, epic narratives, and beautiful brush work. Just check out the patterning and eyeballs on the image above… Amazing!
Crystal Wagner’s installations are a combination of printmaking, cut paper, and cheap, dollar store objects. Her work has a very organic feel to it, as if we are about to walk through a luscious forest or happen upon a moss patch. This isn’t surprising, as Wagner has spent a lot of time immersed in nature, spending extended periods in Yellowstone National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. The large, site specific works convey the awe-inspiring beauty we experience in places like Old Faithful.
Using items like police caution tape, chicken wire and table cloths, the artist crafts multi-layered and complex forms that occupy walls, floors, and everyday spaces. I’m reminded of green wall technology, in which moss grows decoratively on walls and gardens. It is not only good for the environment, but visually dazzles. This is much like Wagner’s work, which uses what already exists in our world to create a calming, tranquil environment.
Wagner has a formal education in printmaking, and this training works to her advantage. She is able to refine her installations by adding intricate prints of forms that look like vines and petals. It contrasts nicely with her construction, which focuses more on structure and building volume. These are the heart of Wagner’s installation, and tell us the most about the essence of her work.
Old magazines and documents are given new life in Mark Powell’s work. Instead of using a blank piece of paper he incorporates a used surface with one of his drawings. This adds a bit of nostalgia and makes his sketches unique. He created a series of animal portraits on the covers of 1940’s National Geographic magazines. These were done in Powell’s ultra realistic style, where he used a common bic ballpoint pen to create dramatic renderings. In this instance, the wild animals offer the viewer a striking view of not only Powell’s expertise as a draftsman but a certain comfort level in seeing a familiar title.
A series of map drawings by the artist cleverly uses historical and literary figures. Mostly portraying old men, Powell fuses the lines on their faces perfectly with the map borders adding an interesting element. The idea itself preserves a time and place. Birds, insects and chimpanzees create another body of work that incorporates more reappropriation. The intricately drawn specimens appear on anatomy text book pages, old letter envelopes and historical editions. These are rendered with scientific precision similar to botanical studies. Their placement on the used surface opens up a collage sensibility.
Powell uses a tool that also holds historical significance. Before the bic biro pen was invented only cumbersome fountain pens were used. These were messy and inconvenient. A newspaper editor named Lazlo Biro noticed that newspaper inks dried quicker and with his brother Gyorgy, a chemist, created the first ballpoint writing pen. Because of the moving ball at the pen’s end the inks were allowed to dry making it easier to use. (via faithistorment)