When I think of New York City I imagine rough and tough grandma’s cussing you out and not taking shit from anyone. Other cities just don’t produce in your face, loud mouth senior citizens. This can get annoying in most situations but not when it comes to amazing Sister Helen Travis. In Sister Helen you’ll find one of the most unanimously acclaimed documentaries in recent years and winner of the coveted Sundance Film Festival Directing Award. A recovering alcoholic who lost her husband and sons to substance abuse Sister Helen fights the South Bronx’s drug wars one person at a time with more off-the-top catch phrases than a 1990’s rap song.
Sister Helen is an inspiring documentary filled with an equal dose of comedy and drama. The love/hate relationship between this tough-as-nails nun and the men who both fear her and rely on her to help them battle their own inner demons is unreal. Inspired by Sinatra’s “my-way-or-the-highway” mantra, Sister Helen runs a tight ship in which everyone must obey her rules and the hand that writes them. For the residents who wish to permanently kick the habit, this sobering dose of tough love may be their last and only hope.
Folkert De Jong is hands down one of my absolute sculptors working today. So much so that in 2008 we did an exclusive interview with him and put him on the cover of Beautiful/Decay Issue: V. Since then Folkert has gone on to create an impressive body of work, each one outdoing the next. Opening April 1st Fokert is back at it again with a solo show at James Cohan Gallery in NYC showing a completely new body of work. His work is refined, grotesque, experimental and takes risks. In other words it’s amazing. This is one of the rare times that I wish I lived in NY so if you’re anywhere near the big apple head down to Folkert’s opening and report back to me. More images below from the centerpiece of the show titled Operation Harmony after the jump.
Artist Fabien Mérelle’s delicate drawings revolve around insecurities and nightmares. His surreal images often feature himself as the main subject, and Mérelle doesn’t exactly paint himself in the greatest light. He’s seen naked, being attacked by giant bugs, and struggling to hold the weight of an entire elephant on his shoulders. It doesn’t look pleasant and the misery seems unavoidable.
While Mérelle’s drawings are self portraits, they speak to a larger audience. Anyone who has felt crippling anxiety, stress, or even just an unpleasant feeling will be able to relate to these heavily symbolic images. They are what nightmares are made out of – not the gruesome ones, of course, but the kind where you feel emotionally spent and groggy when you wake up. (Via Cross Connect Magazine and Hi Fructose)
Welcome to Musii, an island of emotion where you can play, feel and listen. Feel like you need a hug? Musii will give you one! This instrumental blow-up stands for Multi-Sensory Interactive Inflatable. A device that lights up and provides a sense of comfort for anyone who interacts with it. Large, soft nylon spires make up its body and extend upward. Pressing down on them creates a spectacle of feeling, brushing all emotion.
Beneath the milk white exterior is an audiovisual system equipped with LED sensors and vibrating speakers that radiate music from a selection of more then 50 sounds. Musii was specialized with the intentions of providing sensory therapy for children with special needs. The inflation and deflation of the spires creates a “humming bird” musical of sound accompanied by rays of changing color. The adjustment of light, sound and volume can be accessed through a touchscreen remote.
Photographer Mariell Amélie‘s self-portraits are a bit like playing with an imaginary friend on the borderlands of fantasy and reality. They transport her to a dreamy limbo state, each looking like a snapshot from some noir-ish modern fairy tale. Some are haunting, others playful, but all have a sheen of melancholy, an icy veneer. This sensibility is perhaps explained partially by Amélie’s biography, which places her childhood on “a small island above the arctic circle.” A wind-blown isolation permeates her photography, no matter if the backdrop is breath-taking iceberg mountains or bright dollhouse interiors.
Her self-portraits are enigmatic. They are, to borrow a phrase from science, a bit of “spooky action at a distance” — in one, she contemplates her skates on a puddle-sized ice rink; in another, she pays no heed to the warnings of Narcissus, leaning down to kiss the marsh waters. The latter photograph is called “Part Time Lover.” All of Amélie’s photographs have similarly suggestive names: “She Had Just Left for Heaven, They Said,” is the name of one; “Alone and Unaware” is the name of another. As she tumbles from the driver’s seat of a car, vacant-eyed, the photograph’s name comments, “Someone Will Be Waiting at the Station.” These names, paired with the in media res nature of her photographs, give the unshakable feeling that there’s more to the story than meets the eye. If only it were possible to look beyond the veil.
Charlie Roberts recent exhibition at Richard Heller showcased a contemporary double-take on old European salon style exhibitions. His subject matter sifts through the sheer availability and prevalence of, signs, symbols and iconographies present in today’s visual landscape. Roberts notes, “the groups of things isolated on blank pages started as a sort of excercise or study to ween my hand and eyes off using photographs to paint figures from in my paintings, and over time they became a end in themselves, a way to make a painting with out.” Organized in loose, self-devised groupings, in a pseudo-scientific faux-taxonomical manner Linnaeus would be proud of, Roberts draws parallels between hundreds of gestures and ideas. The result are images that look like they could be pulled straight from vintage Audobon Society botanical illustrations. Yet with titles and conglomerations of groups such as “NYC Hip Hop,” “Gang Bangin’,” and themes such as obsessive object collecting and Scientology, Roberts depicts not the wildlife of geographic and biological discovery, but bravely explores our digital, information-soaked New World.