Not really sure what Placer Deshacer (it seems they are a musical group with an alter-presence) is about but these pictures remind me of educational videos from the 70s and 80s, or the vague way that conceptual art is photographed. I love how the absence of color makes the human body look so mysterious and full of knowledge…
Los Angeles has always held a special place in the hearts and minds of Americans, but for most it exists in an almost fictional capacity. Hollywood isn’t a real place – it’s a postcard, a huge sign on the side of a mountain bracketed with strategically placed palm tree silhouettes. Certainly not a place to call home, but for artist Justin John Greene that’s exactly what it is. Hollywood is a part of his heritage, and the work reflects that. Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Greene’s work is strongly imbued with the history of the most romanticized industry in American culture. In his most recent solo show at Actual Size (an exhibition space he co-runs in the Chinatown gallery district of east L.A.) the influence of the film industry is in full focus. You Oughta Be In Pictures is a comprehensive installation that utilizes painting, sculpture, and video to create a truly immersive experience for the viewer. Installation may seem like a bit of a leap from Greene’s primarily two dimensional practice, but a closer look into the artist’s process bridges the gap seamlessly. His work is a distinctly enjoyable blend of sly historical references, direct compositional tactics, and cleverly applied humor. If you have the opportunity to see the work in person I strongly encourage you to do so.
For his series Animal Eyes, the Armenian photographer Suren Manvelyan captures close-ups of animal eyeballs belonging to diverse creatures, revealing both the complexity and universality of the organ. Beneath his macro lens, these small circular organs appear paradoxically vast; at times, their curved surfaces resemble the entirety of planet Earth as seen from space, cloudy with ribbons of pigmentation. Here, the eyes, considered to be windows to the soul, reflect back a cosmic realm that evokes the metaphysical, but at the same time, they are startlingly material. The pupil, a seeming abyss ascending into the unknown, is cushioned by substantial tissues that ground us firmly within the corporeal world.
Though the species shot here vary immensely, a comforting uniformity emerges from the images; through the changes in iris hue and pupil dilation, there is a shared urgency in each gaze, a sweeping desire simply to see. The horse, his eyes veiled in straw-like lashes, fixes the lens with the same intensity as the hippo, whose wrinkled, fleshy eyelids peel back. Where most photography relies upon the assumption that we may watch without fear of being observed ourselves, Manvelyan’s images inspire within us a sense of being seen; are these opened eyes, these celestial orbs, looking back at us? What do they see? Check out the artist’s photographs of the human eye here. (via Agonistica)
When the renowned photographer Robyn Twomey visited the Former Playboy Bunny Reunion, she shot simple and engrossing headshots of women who had been Playboy Bunnies decades before, hoping the capture the complex and often contradictory nature of their former field. On one hand the women are mesmerizingly assertive, and yet, traces of vulnerability and self-consciousness mark their wrinkled brows.
Often, the women appear empowered by their sexuality, and their expressions border on the confrontational. Abandoning any show of passive feminine gentleness, a woman spangled in hot pink costume jewelry adopts a laissez-faire posture normally associated with masculinity, pursing her lips into a smirk and tossing her shoulder back with calculated attitude. Another makes an orgasmic facial expression, relaxing her lips around her open mouth, boldly pressing her breasts towards the camera.
Yet within these powerful and stunning individuals lies a poignant anxiety over growing older, one that boarders perhaps on self-doubt, expressed through a turn of the eye, a furrowed brow. A few turn away from the camera, staring into to the corner of Twomey’s tight frame with strained smiles or almost bashful eyes, their features and the passage of time made more noticeable by make-up that glistens under the bright lights.
Each woman is deeply sympathetic and beautiful, but the work calls into question the ethics of societal pressures enforced by brands and magazines like Playboy. When budding sexuality is valued above all, and when young women are both objectified and exalted, where does that leave aging women? The work is far from an indictment of its subjects; instead, it captures the complexities of a controversial industry that toes the line between supposed empowerment and potential degradation. What do you think? (via BUST and Feature Shoot)
The Birth of Baby X, 2012 digital video, color, sound 4 minutes 30 seconds
Marni Kotak, “Surviving 6 Karpas (Beth Israel Psych Ward)”, 2014, photographic plaque, 40 x 24 inches (detail)
All the Meds I Took
Marni Kotak is off her meds. At least, she’s aiming for that. Prescribed a potent mixture of psychotropic medications in 2012 for her port-partum depression, Kotak’s latest work of performance art, “Marni Kotak: Mad Meds,” features her attempt to wean herself off medication.
Kotak’s 2011 work, “The Birth of Baby X,” was the literal progenitor of “Mad Meds,” culminating in the birth of Kotak’s son Ajax in front of an audience in the gallery space. This controversial exhibition was meant to “convey the authentic experience of [her] life as it is being lived, simultaneously engaging with audience members who become active participants in the actual events unfolding,” Kotak says. “The Birth of Baby X” was followed up by “Raising Baby X” (2011-ongoing), “Postpartum Depression” (2012), “Raising Baby X: The First Year” (2012), “Ajax’s First Birthday Party” (2012), “Raising Baby X: Playtime!” (2013), “Raising Baby X: Family Jam Session” (2013), and “Raising Baby X: Little Brother” (2012-ongoing). Is involving her son in her performances from literally the moment of his birth exploitive? What will it be like for Ajax when he’s old enough to realize that his childhood has been a public spectacle in the name of art?
“Mad Meds” does not involve other people in the performance, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not without its own complex issues.
The 6-week durational performance exhibition and installation finds Kotak addressing her personal struggles with her own mind, the US medical system, and the pharmaceutical industry as she attempts to withdraw from psychiatric medicines prescribed as follow-up treatment for post-partum depression more than two and a half years ago. (Source)
Depression can be agonizing; depression after childbirth can be especially isolating in its opposition to the socially acceptable construct of happy new mommy. Of course, Kotak is completely within her rights to wean herself from her medications if she feels that they’re not working correctly, or if the side-effects have become too overwhelming, or if she just wants to. Naming the 10-foot trophy in the work “Med-free and Happy,” though, has implications about psych meds and depression that go far beyond her performance. If Marni Kotak is able to publicly stop taking psychiatric medication as a work of art, that would be a personal act that she has chosen to share, as she did the literal moment of her son’s birth. If Marni Kotak is using her art to suggest that it is some kind of achievement to stop taking meds, the many, many people who are thankful every day that they are functioning and whole and able to live their lives because of the medication they take may have a different point of view.
Broken bones, badass dogs, big on loitering… Brendan Klein’s name even sounds thrasher. My skateboarding days may have ended the first time I couldn’t make a turn, but with these photos I feel like I’m getting a proper look into a world I never became a part of. But maybe that’s a good thing….. or I might have ended up like the lovely lady after the cut. My face is the wrong shape for Mardi Gras masks.
Janice wu’s work explores how meaning, value, and associations are placed upon things in the material realm. She is interested in how seemingly worthless objects have the potential for whimsy and how the ‘inanimate’ mundane can reveal poetic and narrative possibilities. Through re-imagining the mediocre, the ordinary can become playful and even precious. Working meticulously in pencil and watercolor, her drawings reveal the intricate, tender nature of this medium and reflect the notion of devoting time and contemplation in to the easily overlooked. Through this process of investigating the quotidian, she trains her looking practice towards observing the subtleties in her own lived experiences.
Swedish photographer Pieter ten Hoopen has worked within all aspects of photography, from journalism to commercial. At this point in his career he is a well known and distinguished photographer: he has received many prestigious awards, amongst them the Photographer of the Year in Sweden, and the World Press Award; he has published books of photography on Tokyo and Stockholm, and is currently working on a film project about Hungry Horse, Montana, through MediaStorm.
Ten Hoopen shoots mainly on a Nikon but also uses Yashica box cameras and a Widelux. He has worked all over the world, and travels out of known safety to deliver raw and emotionally jarring footage from places far away, many in turmoil. In the past, he has worked in Pakistan, composing images from the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, an intimate glimpse into the pain and hardship as families continued digging through rubble in search of buried survivors. He shot the small village Vladimirskoe, Russia, which, lying next to the mythically invisible town of Kitezh, occupies a strange grey area of being juxtaposed next to a national attraction while being invisible and struggling itself; problems with alcohol and unemployment make life difficult for most of its inhabitants. In Japan, ten Hoopen visited a forest that lies below Mount Fuji, known informally as the “suicide forest,” where, yearly, nearly a hundred people travel there to commit suicide. The forest is dense with vegetation and stands on the remains of a volcanic eruption, making compasses completely useless and getting lost in the woods very easy. People tie ropes to trees to prevent themselves from getting lost, and many go in there with the intention of never coming out.
There is a stillness in his images, the composition forms its own poetry, and the emotional charge of the situations he encounters stand squarely in the frame. Within the same vein of documentary photography as Sebastião Salgado, ten Hoopen brings an unprovoked sense of art to the frame; providing a visual means with which we can connect to these feelings as viewers, even halfway across the globe, even never having stepped out of our own country. That is the most powerful aspect of this kind of a photographer, he gives voice to what he witnesses, and brings forth the unexplainable beauty and devastation that words cannot do justice to.