Linda Ford’s drawings and collages were informed by hear early experiences of visiting the Worcester Insane Asylum where her father worked.
“My recent work is informed by Somatic therapies and BDSM practices. as well as other turn-the-century pseudosciences such as Phrenology. Early experiences of visiting the “Worcester Insane Asylum” (as it was called in the 1800’s) where my father worked during my childhood, as well as my own employment as a mental health counselor have had lasting affects on my preoccupation with bodies that transgress boundaries. Experiences with somatic therapies, which focus on mining bodily sensation in order to “release” traumatic experience, led me to research the early innovations of Wilhelm Reich. Reich proposed that mental states have a corresponding “physical attitude” that is expressed in the body as muscular rigidity or “body armor”. In his view, a response that begins in childhood as a defense against overwhelming anxiety or trauma can become an “emotional and physical straightjacket” in adulthood. By drawing on these disciplines, I am accessing the body as a sculptural object whose meaning and content is manifested in its skin, muscle and bone.
This work reconfigures the unified portrait, to investigate the fragmented nature of identity and self-knowledge. In the “Self-Discipline” charcoal drawings and their digitally dismantled and refashioned collages, I correlate female desire, monstrosity and excess. The family portrait collages, juxtapose turn-of-the-century photographs with hand-rendered self-portraiture elements, to merge contexts and time periods and explore the constricted body language of subjects uncomfortable in front of the camera and perhaps within their own skins. By creating “Composite Portraits” like those invented in 1881 by Francis Galton (the founder of eugenics) for the purpose of identifying physical, mental, and social deviance, I seek to excavate somatic inheritance as a tool for self-understanding. The play of outer and inner; surface and depth; what is hidden and what is revealed – is at the heart of my use of animal tissue as covering (armor/clothing/skin). The “Body Armor” series of altered fetish-wear, sutured from hog gut, identifies psychological/somatic accumulation in the body and fantasizes the ways in which internalized control, trauma and marginalization may be recuperated.”
The work of art collective Ghost of a Dream uses lottery tickets and romance novel covers to mezmerizing effect. Often employing thousands of dollars worth of scratch-off tickets ($70,000 worth of tickets in the last installation alone), the work conjures a culture of hyper-materialism. The gaudy coloring of the tickets and cheap imagery of romance novels reflect the nature of the object they cover. Like the dream of striking it rich, the art of the collective is hypnotic and absorbing.
If you want to see more work from Ghost of a Dream be sure to check out their exclusive feature interview in Beautiful/Decay Book 9. The collective explores Greed in this Seven Deadly Sins themed edition.
Mikael Aldo is an Indonesian photographer who creates ambitious scenes that are both intimate and epic. In each image, the subjects appear to be engaged in moments of intensity and transition, whether it be ascending towards the heavens, transforming into a tree, or standing before a burning doorway. There often seems to be an atmosphere of darkness, or an allusion to death; one person, submerged in water, covers their face with an animal skull, and in another they lie quietly as birds pass overhead. Such scenes, however, are more serene and beautiful than they are grim. As viewers, we are never certain of what is going on (or what is about to happen), but this is Aldo’s intention: to connect with us via interpretations deriving from our own personal memories and emotions. As he wrote to Beautiful/Decay: “I hope that people feel something towards my photographs — a sense of connection between them and what I try to convey.”
Aldo’s creative process is its own dynamic transformation, arising from experiences and reflections and merging into conceptual scenes. When asked how he develops his ideas, Aldo explained: “I imagine them moving. Alive. That is how I connect one element to the others. Oftentimes I also make sketches, and write specific details on how I want something to be.” The result of this living, holistic process is a set of images that transport us on a creative journey through inner, symbolic worlds. Here, on the edge of something transformative, the photographic subjects demonstrate how to let go while embracing change.
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)
I am really enjoying Matthew Daniel Swan’s work. He creates beautiful illustrations and paintings from which he draws inspiration from pulp cartoons and references Trenton Doyle Hancock. Swan was born in 1987 and works and lives in Edinburgh.
London based artist Issac Cordal created a series of small (but very interesting) installations titled, Cement Eclipses. Through this series, Issac explores the relationship between urban spaces and humans slowly becoming part of its furniture. Cement Eclipses started in 2006 as a nomad project, but its photographs were later realized around 2009.
Jeff Faerber’s naughty painting series based on traditional Japanese Shunga prints capture the look of the original prints but update it with western figures and modern day gadgets, products, and food. It’s truly modern shunga.