Sara Cwynar’s Photographs Still Lifes Made of Junk

Sara Cwynar - Photography

Sara Cwynar - Photography Sara Cwynar - Photography

The exact color of that Ginger Ale can is important to artist Sara Cwynar. Her work revolves around the careful curation of both fantastic and banal objects. She arranges and later photographs these assemblages, which range from color studies to chaotic interpretations of old works of art.

You might be familiar with 16th and 17th century Dutch Flower paintings. If not, then they are exactly as they sound; Still life paintings of flower arrangements. They are colorful and realistically rendered pictures. Their realism is almost boring, until you find out that these paintings were meant to brighten up the interior of homes during the winter months when real flowers were dead. In her Flat Death series, Cwynar took old reproduced pictures of these flowers and overtop placed it with the likes of cheap plastic toys, fake leaves, rolls of tape, and dish gloves.  A sophisticated painting is recreated out of junk, creating a cognitive dissonance.

Color Studies is another still life series. Instead of parodying of an already existing work, Cwynar gathers objects of a similar color. They include old marching band uniforms, encyclopedias, lemons, old slide film, cigarettes, and so much more. Photographs feel really dated, like a teenager’s room in the 1970’s. This is Cwynar’s intention. In an interview with Lavalette, she states:

I thought a lot about the aesthetic patterns you see in these pictures – a particular lighting, a slickness, a high level of detail. I’m also trying to recycle and subvert conventions of product and commercial photography by using elements that aren’t normally associated with these genres – objects that are now discarded or forgotten, intentional scuffing, not glossy at all.

It’s easy to be intrigued by Cwynar’s work. She utilizes conventional objects and through assemblage, allows us to experience them in a new way.

Amy Santoferraro’s Sculptures Assembled From Everyday Objects

Amy Santoferraro - Assemblage Amy Santoferraro - Assemblage

Amy Santoferraro - Assemblage

You know those silica gel packets? The kind you find in a new pair of shoes or in a coat pocket? As a kid, Amy Santoferraro used to collect them as if they were something precious. She would organize and catalog them, which was a sign of things to come. Today, collecting is the heart of Santoferraro’s sculptural work.

Some interests never die; they just find new ways to reinvent themselves in our lives. Just as Santoferraro coveted tiny packets of poison as a child, as an adult she’s amassed objects that would usually be discarded. She has built a body of work around something that’s her natural inclination. From her artist statement:

Like every toddler, I play with what I am given. Fascinated by numbers, colors, objects, and shiny things, I rowdily rummage through thrift stores and flea markets like toy boxes tearing through objects whose usefulness has been exhausted and awaits deliverance to a new imagined life.

 

Santoferraro’s series, BaskeTREE, uses cheap, everyday items and transforms them into small landscapes and scenes. She hand picks objects that resonate with her, either because of nostalgia, beauty, or usefulness. She tinkers with them until the sculpture feels right. The result is a transformation and change of context. Because these cheap items went from being discarded  (one man’s trash is truly another’s treasure here), and placed in the realm of art object, their perceived value is much greater. These assemblages now exist on a higher level of craft and concept than just a plastic flower, basket, and fly swatter has individually.

Santoferraro describes her work as “silly connections that develop from my making and thought processes.” That’s part of the appeal; they might remind us of childhood.  Even if they don’t, the parts of the sculpture reveal a lot about socioeconomic status, and about how and where we grew up. The sum of each sculpture is not only a playful scene, but a snapshot of a society.

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Sarah Sze Forages And Deposits A New Installation At Venice Biennale

Sarah Sze - Installation Sarah Sze - Installation Sarah Sze - Installation

Sarah Sze’s installations incorporate everyday items from toothpicks to light bulbs, and “Triple Point,” her most recent endeavor at the Venice Biennale, is no different. Ladders, paper scraps, aluminum rods, sleeping bags, and other finely scavenged items collect and assemble to create a whole new type of machinery: a thinking one that has to do with re-assessing value and investigating the romanticism of objects at play with one another in this never-ending Milky Way of constructs.

According to The New York Times, Sze “wanted the installation to bleed out into the environment.’’ This is relevant to not only the pavilion itself, where the bulk of her work sprawls from room to room and outward onto the exterior landscaping, but also the neighboring community.

Blazing a cryptic trail, before the opening, Sze deposited a series of fake rocks (aluminum structures wrapped in photographs of rocks) sporadically in unexpected places, sometimes, with local businesses, who now house them in unconventional spaces, often along with their own imaginative origin stories. The intention is to lead patrons into the exhibit slowly, almost subconsciously, as though foraging their own trail into the surprising wilderness of Sze’s art.

More images of the installation and a video after the jump.