Mark Twain once noted, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to”, indicating more than just a lack of fur separates us from our fellow mammals. Swiss photographer Vicky Althaus is known for taking risks to achieve unique scenes for capture, but her newest series offers something even more primal.
Going beyond setting the human body in a natural environment, Althaus has set her subject in what appears to be the familiar scene of a natural history museum. This combination, rather than simply pairing a model with live or taxidermied animals in a more natural state, calls into question our ideas of conservation, our relationship to animals, as well as our relationship to our own bodies. Offering very little titillation, the model’s nudity mirrors the animals, though the interaction appears off-putting, enhanced by the dimly lit room and drab staging. Perhaps the most interesting observation is that the nude model, merely stopping in and solely as a visitor, appears as unnatural as the stuffed animals that are meant to portray some example of our natural world. (via juxtapoz)
Chinese sculptor Liu Xue combines a human with an animal, creating a hybrid being. Each being has a human head with animal appendage (or appendages). A man is merged with a pig, a woman with a chicken, a man with a dog, and more.The result is something we haven’t seen before, one that seems non-threatening, but still grotesque at the same time. Xue has honed his craft and painted the sculptures to be so life like that they fall into the uncanny valley.
Xue’s choice to pair a human with an animal seem to be because it’s funny, and the hybrids fit with each other thematically. For instance, a giant, bald man is given the tiny wings of a bat. Another work pits this same man with a seahorse bottom. We know both of these creatures are tiny, and the disparity in size is what makes it humorous. Other sculptures aren’t so amusing. An older man is combined with the body of greyhound dog. The gaunt appearance of the dog’s body and pained look on the man’s face makes this piece somber.
The unnatural combination of Xue’s work explores the notion of what’s considered attractive or glamourous. A naked, conventionally pretty woman, for instance, is given the unwieldy feet of a chicken. Likewise, a young man has the same features. In the artist’s attempt to make both appear seductive, it’s hard to imagine these creatures moving gracefully.
SVA grad Mu Pan brings East Asian woodblock aesthetics to his colorful, animated paintings. Not much of a “Zen” vibe is to be found here, though. Full of life, the Brooklyn artist’s work explodes off the canvas in a rush of sex and violence. Base, animalistic sensibilities are collected and processed en masse within each piece, and hardly any opportunity for impact is passed over. Really engrossing stuff, whether the focus is placed on a few central figures, or all-encompassing atmosphere.
Nicole Peterson and Adam Ramirez work together and separately to create gothic fairytale-esque photos. The pair, who are based in Chicago, use interesting fashion items like updated plague masks and pea coats, which allow them to transform a camping site covered in snow into what looks like a still from the sequel to The Hunger Games. And their eye for the perfect moment doesn’t just apply to people, since they even have a whole series of photos from various zoos that make it seem like they’re travelling all over the world. Nicole, also has an ETSY shop where she sells buttons that fit within her artistic aesthetic and say things like “Adopt A Dire Wolf” and “What Would Dobby Do.”
Raunchy, suggestive illustrations with strange pseudo-human characters leave viewers unnerved, but at the same time, engaged in a conversation of questions. What is going on and why?? Melissa Stekbauer‘s works can place the viewer in a vulnerable, almost submissive, state, allowing her characters some authority. Her works present interesting narratives, especially because they are paired with a softer painting technique, which can feel more inviting and friendly than the actual content of the work. Maybe that’s why it’s “seductive”?