Saga Sig is an Icelandic photographer with a colorful, quirky, and fantastically narrative vision. Though, surprisingly, still a student of fashion photography in London, Sig’s delightful photos have already been sought out by major commercial clients like Topshop, as well as trendsetting publications like Dazed & Confused and I-D. You can read up more on Sig’s fashion fairytales through her blog, The Neverending Story.
Chad Wys is an artist, designer, and writer from Illinois. Inspired by postmodern thought, Wys’ works examine the reproduction of the image, and the way plural images—as superficial iterations of an original object—operate on us to suggest a sense of meaning and worth.
This theoretical approach is brilliantly exemplified in Wys’ Readymades series, featured here. The Readymades consist of found busts and ceramics that Wys has adorned with eye-popping colors, bold gradients, and silvery tears. By re-contextualizing objects of “antiquity” with garish, modern color schemes, Wys compels the viewer to contemplate their feelings and values in relation to such objects. He explains further on his website:
“By retooling the object and then re-presenting it for the viewer I intend to elaborate on the conversation that takes place between the observer and the reproduction in its ‘initial’ state. Through the reclamation and manipulation of these objects I mean to acknowledge, to underscore, that our possessions can, and often do, manipulate us.” (Source)
Wys observes how, as markers of class and income, art pieces and knickknacks signify arbitrary measures of personal worth. By “disfiguring” the cherished objects, Wys produces a visual, mental disparity that deconstructs their value; the clownish colors show the tenuousness of their “high status.” While subversive in intent, the finished Readymades are curious and beautiful art pieces in and of themselves, at once celebrating and critiquing contemporary art practices and embracing imperfection. The ultimate significance of the works, however, is the viewer’s cognitive responsibility; as Wys states, they are “meant to mean different things to different people who are at different stages of understanding” (Source).
Who knew skull chairs were a thing? Here is a small collection of our favorite chairs that resemble the most iconic part of the human anatomy. Pictured above is the Skull Chair from the Vanitas collection by Vladi Rapaport.
Londoner Petra Storrs is not just a set, prop, and costume/fashion designer– she’s an artist who collaborates with performers to transcend ideas beyond the ephemeral and into a sturdy cult of fantasy. The “reflective mirror dress” she designed for Paloma Faith, for example, not only sharpens the singer’s playful theatrical identity, but further investigates this concept of “the gaze”. In Dazed and Confused Magazine, Faith elaborates on the intention, “Obviously, as a performer, I am normally the observed, but I wanted to flip that dynamic around and make the audience the focus.” Storrs response, of course, was to whip up a garment that literally does just that.
But it’s not just creative camaraderie that gets Storrs’ juices flowing– she also finds inspiration from everyday objects and history, or everyday objects that hold history such as . . . tea. Camellia & the Rabbit, her latest design endeavor (collected here), involves performance artist Rachel Snider, who uses “tea as a central motif/metaphor” and a narrative “like sea shanties” to interweave “historical facts and stories of tea”– thus, evoking our own personal relationship to this British afternoon tradition.
Bones automatically insinuate death, and often are the only physical remnant that insinuates life once existed. Shen Shaomin‘s bone works are equal parts terrifying and fascinating, man-made memorials to human intervention on the planet. Creatures that never have been or should be are pieced together from human and animal skeletons. The bones are carved and relief-carved with text taken from several sources, including the Bible, the Koran, and various sources. Inscribed in English, Arabic, and Chinese, the texts serve as warnings to the two largest industrial nations in the world of the damage being caused to the planet.
Related to the Chinese practice of bonsai, or long-term manipulation of a living tree to one’s will based on aesthetic and stylistic choices, Shaomin has also used bonsai in past works as a metaphor for human intervention upon nature.
In an interview with the University of Sydney’s ARTSPACE CHINA, Shaomin explains the terror he hopes to evoke in his skeletal works, “China’s current situation is very much like my bonsais. At first glance you will find it beautiful, but once you look more carefully you’ll see there are terrifying things behind that beauty. China has over a billion people, but over 800 million of those people are peasants. A peasant’s standard of life in China is still pretty basic. They say that if every one of those 800 Chinese peasants showered every day it would take more than all the water on the planet. That’s a scary thought.” (via myampgoesto11)
Brian Jungen turns every day objects on their heads, revealing the potential for magic and mystery in even the most mundane moments. Above, baseball mitts become a punk-rock mannequin, or a warrior’s armor. Plastic lawn chairs become the hulking exoskeleton of a whale. Hundreds of trash bins become the building block for a sci-fi geodesic dome, or a giant turtle’s vacated shell. His ability to transform is nothing short of alchemical!
Middle Boop is the alias of graphic designer Gordon Reid. His design work is very colorful and dynamic and some of the work has some reminiscence of science fiction novel covers from the 50s and 60s. Elements of color, shape, imagery and dimension, Middle Boop’s composition are put together in a collage manner and quite enjoyable to look at. He also has a blog and a zine under the Middle Boop name.
Brian Cattelle is an American photographer who has embarked on a nation-wide project to photograph one nude model in each of the USA’s 50 states. Driving his concept is an exploration of the contrast between natural, nude beauty, and the decay of manmade environments; explore his current collection, and you will see female figures integrated within architectural wastelands, the black and white tones highlighting the illumination of soft skin amidst shadowy, shattered rubble. Entitled BARE USA, the project emerged from Cattelle’s desire to challenge himself and his work. In a statement provided to Beautiful/Decay, he explained:
“I wanted to tackle a project that would prove I was able to work with models in often difficult and uncomfortable situation. I wanted to show I was willing to go to any lengths to get a great shot. I also wanted to show the level of organization, execution, and dedication I was capable of. It seems that my initial intention was to prove these points to others, but in the end the true reward was proving them to myself.”
Part of what makes Cattelle’s project so imaginative and emotionally evocative is his approach to abandoned places. “People often express sadness about some of these great abandoned structures,” Cattelle observed. “They don’t make me feel sad. Change is change […]. I do find myself captivated by a sense of awe and wonder when I soak in my surroundings. I think about how much effort went in to building these places, how much work took place here, and how quickly that can be lost.” By incorporating nude models, Cattelle reinvests desolate spaces with hope and optimism for the future. As he concludes, “I think my work is important because I am creating art and bringing something beautiful to this world by injecting new life into these dead and forgotten structures.”
Last summer, Cattelle completed successful shoots in 30 states, and is working on completing the final 20. If you like his concept, check out his Kickstarter project. There, you can learn more, make a pledge, and receive beautiful fine art prints in return. Visit Cattelle’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see more of his work and follow him on his journey.