Kent Rogowski is a Brooklyn-based artist who alters consumer products as a means of exploring the emotional and cultural roles such objects play in our lives. We featured his Everything I Wish I Could Be project a couple years ago, wherein Rogowsky reconfigured self-help books in order to construct subjective narratives of experience and self-definition. The series featured here, titled Bears, takes an arguably darker — but no less profound — approach to our relationship with material objects. By inverting (formerly) adorable stuffed animals and re-stuffing them, Rogowsky has created a cast of strange, sad, and grotesque characters. The visibility of their internal structures has an undeniably disturbing effect; with their exposed seams, spilling stuffing, and lidless eyes, they look like the flayed and eviscerated versions of our childhood companions. As Sarah Verdone eloquently (and humorously) wrote for Paper Magazine: “If Hannibal Lecter, Martin Margiela and a blind speed freak had a three-way in a Build-A-Bear workshop, these creatures would be their mutant offspring” (Source).
But Rogowski’s project is not just about clashing the cute with the grotesque — which, in a way, alienates us from material objects typically associated with nostalgia and comfort. His mutilated creations, in their sordid states of innocent suffering, are portraits of the hardships we experience as we grow, struggle, and change. Despite their crippling disfigurement, the stuffed creations maintain an appearance of love and loyalty, steadfastly “holding it together,” waiting for you to return home while everything slowly unravels at the seams. In a fascinating statement about this project, Rogowski writes:
“They are at once hideous yet cuddly, […] while offering a metaphor for us all to consider. These bears, which have lived and loved and lost as much as their owners, have suffered and endured through it all. It is by virtue of revealing their inner core might we better understand our own.” (Source)
Check out Rogowski’s website for more examples of his insightful explorations of consumer products and the way they impact our internal lives. (Via Design Faves)
Dimitri Kozyrev’s paintings are captivating, to say the least. His color precision from plane to line and surface to sky balances the ephemerally abstract beautifully with a hardened environment. This compositional fracturing feels like ice cracking on the pond, disrupting the reflection or illusion of us and our structures, before we crash into a new reality.
This “crash” echoes of Constructivism or Futurism, with deep contemporary critique on not just the disruption of landscape during wartime, but maybe even more so, the distortion of self, identity, and technology in relation to art and activism as these terms relate to the avant-garde, painting, and intention in today’s milieu.
On this note, Kozyrev elaborates:
“I have titled this body of work ‘Lost Edge.’ I use the word ‘edge’ because I draw a comparison between the notion of the avant-garde in war and the art world. In the early 20th Century, the avant-garde was at the height of its importance in both realms. Now, however, I maintain that just as the concept of the military avant-garde has been “lost,” because of changes in methods of warfare, the avant-garde in the contemporary art world, has also lost its edge.
“The source material for this body of work is images of ruins of the once mighty fortifications of the Mannerhiem Line, built to protect Finland from the advances of the Soviet military avant-garde. Finland’s attempt was valiant and not in vain; this war and the lives that were lost in 1939 are largely forgotten. The fortification lie in ruins, and nature is slowly reclaiming them. Similarly, the ‘cutting edge’ of the contemporary art world seems to have become blunted. Viewers of the avant-garde work of many visionary artists of the early 20th Century were shocked, challenged and inspired by The Malevich’s ‘Black Square’ and ‘Fountain’ of Marcel Duchamp. Because of changes in society, like changes in warfare, it has become difficult for today’s contemporary artist to generate the same level of response without resorting to vulgarity.”
D-Barcode is a Japanese design firm which apparently specializes entirely in designing barcodes. I wish I could tell you more, but I don’t speak Japanese and pretty much the only English on their site is their slogan – BIG IDEAS ARE SMALL, DESIGN BARCODE. Can any Japanese readers tell us more?
Attention Cult Of Decay! The latest issue of Beautiful/Decay is upon us! Sent to the printers in the last weeks, there will be only 2000 copies produced (all of which are ad-free) and only subscribers will receive their copy before anyone else does. You also save 33% by subscribing versus waiting to buy at a bookstore (plus you don’t have to go past your mailbox to get it!). Subscribe today and secure your newest addition to the Beautiful/Decay series. We’re also holding a contest for your chance to win a free copy of the book so get all the details and a few more peaks at what the new book has to offer after the jump.
Ronald Kurniawan’s illustrations are inspired by ideograms, syllables, letterforms, beasts and heroic landscapes. He slowly but surely continues to create a visual language where the wilderness and civilization could merge happily together. With the belief that the sublime and nuclear age could coexist, he paints romantic environments and breaks the quiet scene with juxtaposed imagery taking the shape of icons and letterforms. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles where he paints meticulously and happily accompanied by his pug Ruffles, an avid artist himself.
Born in Paris and trained in London, visual artist Charlotte Cornaton combines two unlikely platforms—the ancient craft of ceramics and the modern medium of video art—to create multi-faceted, socially-charged pieces. For Insomnio, her latest series, Cornaton focuses heavily on the ceramic side of her practice, creating 21 delicately crafted and hauntingly illuminated porcelain books.
Stunningly handmade and intrinsically dreamy, Insomnio presents and explores the paradoxal nature of clay’s transformation from a heavy, solid medium to a fragile, paper-thin representation of the contents of a book. Created during the artist’s residency in Jingdezhen, China, the pieces—comprised of porcelain and illuminated by hidden LEDS—are directly influenced by ancient techniques and rooted heavily in Chinese culture:
Insomnio is a complication of porcelain sculptural books which explain the symbolism of my nightmares using Jung dream interpretation. The oneiric world is true cerebral storm and the fear of the unconscious is here materialized through the cracks and imperfections of the porcelain . . . I used the three main ancestral Chinese techniques of incised porcelain: carving celadon, cobalt painting and cloisonné glaze. Insomnio thus uses oriental know-how to express western form of thought, incarnating the exchange and symbiosis of cultures.
Adorned with designs and inscribed with text, each book presents the artist’s acquired sense of a culture’s aesthetic and, through both a literal use of light and enlightening symbolism, results in an exhibit based prominently in illumination—literally.
Photographer Maja Daniels‘ series Monette & Mady captures Paris’ enigmatic twins. The series shifts between staged and candid scenes of the twins’ life in the city. The photos reflect the public and private personas of Monette and Mady. Paris provides the ideal setting for the dramatic nature of siblings. Really, the series centers around the twins’ relationship. Daniels says of Monette & Mady:
“This series is an intimate journal of their togetherness and as an alternative take on the complex issues that accompanies the notion of “aging” today, I aim to pursue this series over the years as Mady and Monette grow older.”