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Slovakian Artist Duo Burn Spooky Pagan And Ritualistic Motifs Into Hardwood

Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič Jarmila Mitríková & Dávid Demjanovič

Jarmila Mitríková and Dávid Demjanovič are a fascinating artistic duo adding spice back into a traditional form of art-making. They hail from Slovakia and employ a technique called pyrography, which involves burning into plywood and shading the images with wood stains. This particular way of mark making was popular with people mostly during socialism in former Czechoslovakia. A style with is linked with folk art, domestic crafts and cultural traditions, the pair tap into their own history and national identity.

In their hybrid style you can see christian traditions, folklorism, pagan rituals, superstitions, myths, local legends with links to WWII and socialistic history, all with the backround of real slovak scenery. (Source)

Mitríková and Demjanovič play to their strengths of storytelling and creating very strong, personal images. We see very graphic scenes being played out – hunting rituals, exorcisms of some type, sacrificial set ups, and masked people involved in cult-like activities. With titles like Guardians of National Spirituality, Procession With Nazi, Cult of Goddess Morena, Dance Plague and Evacuation of Slovakian Elites, they focus on a time of secret societies and unknown mysterious behavior; they speak of a time when not everything was understandable, or explainable.

Typical for their practise is working with mystification and creating thematic series, where they focus their attention on one subject from our present or history….. when they work with real slovak subjects, using their style of storytelling, they create absurd, comic situations and new contextual reading. (Source)

This talented couple manage to recreate a sense of wonder, secrecy, ambiguity and riddles. They put a contemporary spin on an ancient art of wood burning and telling campfire-stories. 

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Stellar Street Art Performed By A Statue

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From setting hipster traps to designing tourist lanes on sidewalks, Jeff Greenspan’s work consistently employs a certain playful cleverness that questions our social norms in relation to spaces, New York City in particular. The Statue Experiment (pictured above) is no exception. Examining our own reality as far as engaging with art and its contextual expectations is concerned, Greenspan adds a little bowl of change in front of Frank Benson’s statue for a whole new effect.  In fact, it just might be the best street performance art performed by an actual object . . . or maybe it’s the audience members who are the real performers? Click on the video after the jump to see what we mean.

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Famous Cars Soar Through The Sky In Gerry Judah’s Gravity-Defying Installations

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Porsche, 2013

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London-based artist Gerry Judah has been widely known for his large-scale outdoor installations. Especially noteworthy are his works commissioned for such famous car brands as Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and others. Collaborating with the sponsors, Judah has created a series of gravity-defying suspended installations featuring scale-sized model cars shooting as high as 35 meters in the sky.

Gerry Judah has been building his car-themed sculptures since 1997. His tremendous structures have always been a sight at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in Sussex, England. Judah works extensively with steel. Naturally the amount of it consumed for each installation can go as high as whopping 175 tonnes (Jaguar, 2011). Despite the rugged material, Judah’s structures seem to be incredibly lightweight flexible. His works are particularly appreciated for the cohesion with the style of cars they represent. Here’s Judah talking about the design of Porsche 911 monument (above):

”The 911 is a fantastic shape that can’t be deconstructed or embellished, so in this context, the sculpture had to provide the right platform for the car to soar up and shine in the sky. <…> The concept was that each car is shooting into the sky, supporting one another, racing each other, captured in a perfect moment. Like the cars it displays, the sculpture is superbly engineered, lightweight and reflective of the Porsche 911 itself: simple, pure and built for the job.”

His latest work for Mercedes-Benz (below) features a 160-tonne steel sculpture with two Mercedes-Benz cars passing each other in midair. The installation is 90 meters long and soars 26 meters into the sky. It celebrates the 120-years-anniversary of motorsport heritage by Mercedes-Benz.

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Ji Yeo Examines Beauty Via Post Plastic Surgery Photographs

Originally from Seoul, Korea Ji Yeo now resides in Rhode Island. From 2009 – 2012 she worked on an extensive photography project entitled The Beauty in which she documented numerous women in Seoul, Korea immediately after they had undergone plastic surgery. With a sensitive demeanor Yeo highlights an aspect of our current culture that has become increasingly commonplace. Ji explains that “…Beauty is integral to human nature, and people find beauty in the most difficult circumstances, during emotional chaos and disorder, within social taboos and the breaking of such taboos and even in the face of death. My work focuses on ideas of “beauty” in contemporary culture, specifically in how women in our culture come to define and enforce an ideal of beauty on themselves…”

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Lauren Semivan’s Black And White Photography Digs At Our Primitive Nature

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Lauren Semivan’s black and white photography raises the dead, feels rich with ritual, and sullen from the earth. To say it is simply an abstract psychological expression would be too easy. There’s something else happening here that is magically archaic, and it’s not just the finely tailored compositions that carefully, yet seemingly casually, dig at our remains by arranging drawn fragments, bodies, vegetation, bones, and string, against a sparse backdrop. This “something else” is movement or play not just in the environment, but as or with the environment, a dreamy surreal fade that lingers.

Technically, each image is a true representation of not just what collects, but how the collection becomes. Shot with a purist sense of photography’s past, Semivan uses an early 20th century 8 x 10″ view camera and, without digital manipulation or any touch-ups at all, develops prints from a scanned large format negative. The ephemeral result, interestingly, pushes on our own anthropological or archeological impulses as a species– asking us to engage and connect with our ancestors, creatively, scientifically, and divinely.

Of her work, Semivan states, “In scientific disciplines, a line is classified as an event. Something as primitive as a scrawl on a surface reveals an aggregate of events, intersecting and changing course. Drawings made on the seamless backdrop describe an emotional space. Science is inherently experiential, as is art making. Knowing and feeling are not separate, and the whole of the environment can be used as a pedagogic instrument. Observatory elegantly draws upon a tension that exists between irrational and physical worlds. Within each image, ghosts of previous drawings.”

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Julie Calbert

Belgian photographer Julie Calbert’s fashion photographs have the patina and alluring grainy texture of 1970’s fashion shoots but with a contemporary styling.

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Alex Podesta’s Life-Sized Sculptures Of Men Dressed In Bunny Suits

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Artist Alex Podesta creates life-sized sculptures that feature grown men in bunny costumes. The realistic-looking figures wear head-to-toe fluffy suits with two giant ears on top of their head. Podesta poses his characters and puts them into different settings that are both in and outside of a gallery. We see several identical statues looking over the roof of a building, as well sitting inside and playing with marionettes and trying to tame a snake. Their actions and attire don’t read as one of grown men, but of  young boys. And, that’s partially the point of Podesta’s work. From his artist statement:

…I have culled the rich fantasies, daydreams, misconceptions and experiences of childhood and re-contextualized them through the filters of adulthood, experience and education. This effort has been made in an attempt to plumb the depths of the creative and comprehensive naiveté of youth; to illustrate, in engaging and serio-comic ways, the role of fantasy, “othering” and conflict in nascent self-awareness; and, through the time honored tradition of solipsistic navel gazing, to pick gently at the loose thread of wistful escapism inherent in a quiet, downhill slide into maturity.

These men exist in a liminal space that’s in between boyhood and manhood, and Podesta goes on to explain that his subjects “…will be forever locked in the Sisyphean toil of misapplication, miscomprehension and misunderstanding.” (Via ARTNAU)

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Jessica Thalmann

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Toronto native Jessica Thalmann is a photo-based artist with a curatorial presence. Her pieces bear witness to narratives of the past, overlaid on the reality of the present, capturing the intensity of these personal stories.

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