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Ambivalent Photographs Of Bolivian Witchcraft Reveal The Clash Between Tradition And Modernity

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In their book Waska Tatay, French photographer Thomas Rousset and graphic designer Raphael Verona document the cryptic reality of Bolivian witchcraft. During their trip to the Altiplano region of Bolivia, Rousset and Verona encountered the magical world of shamanism, spiritual healers and ancient mythology. Their book exposes the collision between old and new, mystical and mundane, spiritual and physical.

The ambivalence of Waska Tatay begins from a first glance. Book’s abstract cover of fading yellows and blues is contrasting with the actual matter. The clash continues throughout Rousset and Verona’s style of photography, which is tossing between reportage and staged portraiture. Finally, the grotesque ambiguity reaches its top when the subjects in all their ritual garments are photographed in their mundane surroundings. This incoherence between content and form exposes the viewer to the grim reality of tradition in today’s world.

“We decided to mix two languages: one very staged and those that are very snapshot. We mixed a lot to create ambiguity for the reader, in knowing what’s real and what’s fiction.”

Rousset and Verona claims to have tried to zoom the old fashioned world into today’s reality. The picture of a Bolivian girl standing in a tree is an iconic example of their idea: “You could see that the girl is a witch, trying to talk with divinities or evils but her voice to God is replaced by a cell phone,” says Verona. According to the photographers, what they witnessed in Bolivia was a sense of magical realism which they wanted to broadcast to the viewer. The book Waska Tatay is available on IDPURE. (via Wired)

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Amy Gartrell

Amy Gartrell

Radical ceramics, paintings and drawings by the talented Amy Gartrell. Do these images make anyone else think of 80’s super fresh flavor, complete with the crazy squiggly lines? Her show “Whatever and Ever” is on view at Daniel Reich Gallery in NYC until June 26th, so go check it out!

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Nezaket Ekici’s Liberates Herself By Cutting Off Her Hair

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Wearing a bright orange dress and armed with scissors, German artist Nezaket Ekici is tethered to the ceiling of a room via her hair. Long ropes act as handcuffs and are tied to the ends of her long brown strands. The only way out? To cut the strings or hair. Her performance, titled Atropos, was first presented in 2006 and again in 2008. It used 100 ropes, 100 hairlines, and 100 pitons (a type of metal spike) and lasted one hour.

We see that during Atropos, strings and hair are cut and dangle over Ekici’s eyes and other pieces of rope. At its core, it’s the act of freeing oneself from the ties (literally) that bind. In a statement about the work, posted on the Celeste Network:

She carries out an act of the self-liberation, while she frees herself with the help of a sissle from long ropes fastened at the roof and to the hair. She cuts off a part of her hair and in this way dissociates herself from a piece of herself. This work can be seen as a vital discussion about the question on the sense of life, that is partly characterised by striving for freedom. Particularly, because hair can be considered as a symbol of life.

This piece’s title comes from the Greek myth of the Moirai who are the goddesses of fate. The statement further explains:

Atropos, who is one of them splits according to the myth the fate threads of the life with a sissle. The artist shows with the radical act of the hair-cut a way out. She takes fate into her own hands and frees herself, like Atropos did. At least the act of the cutting can be seen as an attempt of liberation in itself. (Via Sweet Station)

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Cao Hui’s Flesh CoveredFurniture Complete with Guts And Inards

Cao Hui‘s ultra realistic sculptures manage to be intriguing while stomach turning.  Cao sculpts every day objects such as furniture or clothing as if from butchered flesh and innards.  His strict attention to detail can be seen from the entrails spilling out of a slashed cushion to a couple swollen armrest stitches.  Though constructed from resin, his artwork appears to bulge, droop, and tear much like actual flesh.  Cao juxtaposes inside and outside, essence and appearance in a very literal (albeit gory) manner.  While disturbing, Cao effectively executes his work with a certain dark humor. [via]

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Shanna Allyn Documents A Strange World With Even Stranger Faces

Shanna Allyn - Photography

Shanna Allyn - Photography

Shanna Allyn - Photography

Shanna Allyn - Photography

Photographer Shanna Allyn is the master of a universe where women are covered in kittens, faces are obscured with food, and they have eyes like a cartoon character. Her series, Strange Beautiful, is, not surprisingly, strange. This coupled with Allyn’s style of photography (which seems less focused on technical aspect and more on documentation) takes the viewer through a bizarre world where there are more questions than answers.

In a statement about her work written by T. Martin Crouse, co-founder of the publisher Sic Semper Serpent, he describes it as, “The use of quirky objects combined with the locations and postures of her models creates a sense of surrealism. Out of place props in a variety of lateral interpretations have a strong effect.” Later, he goes on to say, “In Shanna’s universe of tampon cigarettes and hotdog mouthpieces, who really has control?” That statement itself is absurd and captures the essence of what Allyn is trying to do. These photographs record what goes on in her world, which is comprised mostly of a group of women with cartoonish eyes. They wear them as a mask, allowing them to look unaffected and apathetic. Nothing phases them, and we don’t immediately understand their motivations.

I see Allyn as a documentarian, capturing images that aren’t full of tension or sadness, but just show a day in the life of Strange Beautiful. The emotions that these models don’t show is compensated by our associations to objects in the images and content she presents.

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Paul Blow

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I love Paul Blow‘s witty and pithy illustrations (such as this obviously confused cat). His sense of humor relays a story without trying too hard. His illustrations have appeared in the likes of Business Week and the Boston Globe, giving him the opportunity to play around with popular culture and politics.

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Jason Borders’ Carves Insanely Detailed Patterns Into Animal Skulls And Bones

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Jason Borders has been collecting different animal skulls from before he started school. Always looking for more objects to add to his cabinet of curiosities, he explored his local neighborhoods picking up bits of bones and cartilage. Years later, he has turned that obsession into an art form, showcasing his talent in galleries, shops and collections around the country. He carves patterns and designs that resemble traditional Mehndi tattoos. He usually lets the shape of the skull or bone that he is working on dictate the design he carves. He then covers the work in ink or a striking color.

Borders remembers the day his hobby turned a bit more serious with amusement. After discovering the carcass of an elk while in the desert, and loading it all into his car – an action that almost got him arrested, took it back to his garage. There he cleaned the bones and noticed something that helped him take his craft to the next level.

Looking at the Dremel and looking at the bones next to each other, I picked it up and started working on it. The garage was right underneath my house, and I ended up filling the house with bone dust, and made myself really sick and made my wife really angry. Then I did it another four years, but I’m much more careful these days. (Source)

Borders also paints and carves other items, but has a particular affinity toward skulls. He treats his work as a way of overcoming his fears – particularly ones concerning mortality. He says because he is always working with the idea of death – quite literally,  it helps him live his life with intent and purpose. And what a great purpose he has found. (Via Faith Is Toment)

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Jody Zinner’s Hair Studies

Jody Zinner lives and works in Montreal, Canada. Her delicate hair paintings explore our biomaterial in humorous, grotesque, and symbolic ways. From Chewbacca’s flowing locks to a braid of hair in the shape of a circle as if to reference strength and continuity Zinner uses hair to convey multiple points of view.  

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