I found Finish painter Timo Vaittinen while browsing The Company of People (international community art project based in New York). Mystical centaurs, hot dogs on a grill, and weird people in creatures-of-a-furry nature outfits sound like a lot of fun…it also sounds like my birthday party (happening right now!)
What you’re lookin at is our Arts District neighborhood, home to B/D offices…..barricaded due to police activity. Apparently, our block doesn’t just house contemporary art magazine-makers and cigarette-smoking hipsters, but Jason Bourne-style, America’s Most Wanted fugitives!
To recap, we here at the offices had an extremely bizarre day. The loud snores of Ziggy, our office mascot, were replaced with the even more thunderous and more obnoxious drone of helicopters, circling the sky in pursuit of well-known fugitive Brian Alexik! After a day-long standoff between Alexic and an entire swat team of police authorities, the suspect was finally arrested this afternoon. His crimes run a laundry list of wrong-doing, from the relatively minor offenses of drug-dealing, illegal weapon possession and counterfeiting money, to the grave offense of being photographed with U2’s Bono!
Let’s just say popping off to pick up a refreshing iced latte down the street was out of the question….the entire neighborhood was blocked off, leaving us here at Beautiful/Decay gawking out of our office windows at the armored cars and bike police, held hostage in our own office for most of the day! Read what the Huffington Post has to say about the matter here.
April Dauscha toys with subtle extremisms through her use of lace. Existing somewhere between performance art and fashion design, she wraps her tongue, her hands, and covers her eyes in various ways, half concealed beneath the delicately woven fabric. She makes tongue slips and singular gloves that she can put on, slowly, for the camera.
Some of the documentation is done through photographs, although there are also short videos which feature Dauscha, up close, putting things on her tongue. In this instance the work is quite phallic; sliding her tongue into the lace wrapping easily reminds one of a penis coming into contact with a condom. This wrapping, veiling, covering of the mouth in this particular manner seems an easy metaphor to an obstruction of either speech or individuality. She enters the fabric and is simultaneously entering an illusion, a changed version of herself. Neither fully obscured yet not limitless as before, her tongue is then partially concealed but operable. In yet another video she binds her tongue with a long piece of string, circling it around the tongue tightly, like a corset. Then she pulls the entire thing off. Dauscha attaches a lot of meaning to these pieces and movements:
“My making focuses on feminine objects and materials. Lace, veils, undergarments and hair adornment speak not only of womanhood, but also of the duality of human nature. Lace speaks of purity and sexuality, it reveals and conceals, it is humble, yet gluttonous in its ornamental overindulgence; lace is the ultimate dichotomy. I use it as a potent symbol to represent the duality of body and soul, right and wrong, good and evil. Historically, neglected, disheveled and unbound hair was a sign of mourning and penance, a physical representation of one’s sin and sorrow. In my work, hair comes to represent an uncomfortable binding of one’s self to one’s alter ego, while helping to
Perhaps the digital artwork of Antonio Strafella isn’t so profane as it may at first seem. His series Spiritual Hero at once compares and juxtaposes saints and superheroes, the holy and the vulgar. Comic books are often thought of as the exclusive domain of young people, rarely taken serious. However, in a strange way the superheroes don’t seem exceptionally out of place in Strafella’s work. Indeed, many of the grand story lines of the characters featured by Strafella have clear Biblical references. He goes on to say:
“These icons have various aspects in common: saints do miracles and superheroes have superpowers, both are venerated, opening the conflict between faith and zealotry.”
Visual artist Kalen Hollomon, recently titled the “cut out king of New York”, is blurring the lines between the social conformity and taboo with his mixed media artworks. His collages feature mundane city life moments, high fashion editorials and old advertisements blended with clippings from vintage pornography scenes.
“I am always concerned with what lies beneath the surface – with relativity, perception, sexuality and pop culture. My images are reality manipulation, manipulating other people’s identities. The idea of and ability to alter the value or meaning of an image or object by adding or subtracting elements is really exciting to me – adding or taking away elements from something until it becomes the sexiest it can be at that moment.”
Holomon is christened to be the child of the iPhone generation. Snapped with a smartphone camera, his creative collages started gaining exposure thanks to the social media platforms Instagram and Twitter. However, the same attention has forced the artist to censor some of his works. Hollomon says he “had accounts shut down and posts removed for as little as butt cheeks”.
Beyond the absurdity and wit, Hollomon’s work also represents the new trend of privacy-lacking public photography. His instant iPhone images from New York’s streets and subways rarely deal with any permissions for public use. That unawareness is exactly what turns such works into powerful socio-documentary messages. (via Dazed)
Brian Willmont is a multi-talented creative. Along with his partner, Cody Hoyt, he spearheads Apenest, a design/art collective that self-produces collaborative silkscreens, graphics and a stunning full color book showcasing a stable of brilliant contemporary artists. Beautiful/Decay recently received a copy of their book and was blown away by the attention to design and the quality of the artists included. As an artist, Willmont also creates invididual work—his stunning works on paper detail an idiosyncratic personal vocabulary, often leaning towards fantastical situations, brightly colored in a hyperspectra of acid-induced prismatic color. Lurking beneath the enticing exterior, however, a darker, more apocalyptic narrative manifests itself; apparent in Willmont’s depiction of decaying architectural structures and implied destruction.
I considered Doug Aitken to be a big thinker when I read about his Song 1, a huge sound and video installation enveloping the Hirshorn Museum, or his Mirror, a video project that consists of an L.E.D screen that’s wrapped around the facade of the Seattle Art Museum.
With his latest project, Station to Station: A Nomadic Happening, Aitken has taken “installation” to a whole other level. For three weeks this September a train decked out with L.E.D lights will travel from New York City to San Francisco making 10 stops along the way (next stop St. Paul, Minneapolis on Sept 12). Aitken designed the train as a kind of kinetic sculpture, or studio. At each stop artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers and other creatives will participate in site-specific happenings.
Aitken’s goal with the project is to address some big questions, such as “Who are we? Where are we going? And, at this moment, how can we express ourselves?” In an effort to create this “modern cultural manifesto,” Aitkin invited individuals such as Olaf Breuning, Urs Fischer, Christian Jankowski, Lawrence Weiner, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Dan Deacon and Dave Hickey (and many others) to participate. Everyone involved was asked to reconsider the way they create. Ed Ruscha, for instance, thought up a cactus omelet that will be made and served to participants in Winslow, Arizona.
The project, made possible by Levi’s, will also raise funds for various cultural institutions across the country through ticket sales (yes you can get tickets if they are still available for the happening in a city near you) and donations from partners, institutions and the public.
The concept of Station to Station confronts and challenges the system whereby art is, all to often in today’s society, created solely for museums and galleries. Station to Station embraces the key components of a 1960s happening, especially spontaneity and audience engagement, but the enormity of scale raises the stakes. I admire Aitkin’s ambition particularly because, in the spirit of a true happening, Station to Station could go off without a hitch, or could go completely awry. Whose to say though which would be worse?
Erika Sanada is a Tokyo-born, San Franscico-based sculptor whose supernatural animal creations traverse the boundary between dream and nightmare. In many ways, her creatures seem soft and gentle — the colors are pale, the textures soft. However, many are riddled with terrifying bodily anomalies: dogs with several rows of fangs, others writhing in agony and tearing at their own skin, and mutant birds bursting out of torsos and faces. The blank, dead eyes of the animals further add to their moral ambivalence; without the pupil — that center of consciousness — their eyes could be those of a gentle, all-seeing spirit, or of the soulless undead.
Whether it is their eyes, human-like skin, or abnormalities (some of the animals appear to be painfully conjoined to others), Sanada’s creations rattle with uneasiness; they are both endearing and unsettling in their suffering and strangeness. In her Artist Statement, Sanada identifies her own experiences with anxiety as the source of her inspiration. “I worry about everything, even tiny things,” she writes. “Anxiety drags my mind to the dark side, which is more powerful and intense than my bright side.” Instead of being paralyzed by such fears, Sanada decided to confront them by molding them into beautiful, hideous life; it is her way of gaining control over her anxiety — and indeed, in embracing her own darkness and transforming it into art.
Sanada recently exhibited at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon, and will be showing again at the Flower Pepper Gallery in Pasadena, California, this Februrary. Check out Sanada’s website for a stunning gallery of her beautiful and tortured dream-creatures. (Via Design Faves)