“Gay Men Draw Vaginas” is exactly the project it sounds like. Three years ago, Keith Wilson and Shannon O’Malley were eating at a restaurant with a group of homosexuals when the topic of vaginas came up. This led to O’Malley asking Wilson to draw a vagina on the table with a crayon. This inspired more conversation and more drawings from the gay men at the table. A few months later, the duo decided to explore this idea even further, setting up a “vagina collection booth” at gay establishments across San Francisco. While they were given a few sneers here and there, most of the gay men who participated were excited to dive in and contribute to the project.
O’Malley observes, “In casual conversation, at surface level, I knew asking gay guys to draw vaginas was funny because it zeroed in on what some people might have perceived as ‘opposites.’ What I kept to myself were my navel-gazing meditations on ‘queer identity’ and ideas people (and the culture) hold about women and bodies.”
The duo recognize that the drawings range anywhere from misogynistic to celebratory to puzzling and enigmatic. They hope to eventually get people like Dan Savage, Neil Patrick Harris, Perez Hilton, John Waters, and/or George Takei to participate. “Ultimately, though, we hope people do a lot of things; we hope they’ll laugh, we hope they’ll think about what it means to identify as a ‘gay man,’ we hope they’ll think about ideas our culture has about bodies and body parts. Their responses are part of the study, part of the art,” they explain.
San Francisco-based body painter Trina Merry has created a series of scenes that blend nude bodies into New York City landscapes such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Guggenheim Museum, Empire State Building, Central Park and the New York City skyline. Due to Merry’s fine attention to detail and composition, the painter’s subjects seamlessly disappear into their surrounding environments.
Of her medium, Merry writes, “My surface is living, breathing human beings making this a highly relevant & immediate medium. I use non-toxic hypoallergenic paint applied with a brush or airbrush. The painting is temporary, like a Tibetan sand painting, beginning to change into another work as soon as I stop painting, changing texture & color.”
Merry has an impressive portfolio of projects on her site, including the Human Motorcycle Project, a project which entailed painting bodies to look like motorcycles. (via visual news)
Sculptor Sophie Kahn has merged new technology with old to haunting effect in her sculptures of incomplete women. Kahn initially worked as a photographer but became frustrated with working in two-dimensions. Modern 3d scanners initiate these sculptures, but the fragmentation of the figures is achieved by using the scanners in a way for which they were not designed. Kahn says:
“When confronted with a moving body, it receives conflicting spatial coordinates, generating fragmented results: a 3d ‘motion blur’. From these scans, I create videos or 3d printed molds for metal or clay sculptures. The resulting objects bear the artifacts of all the digital processes they have been though.”
The absences in these figures is what makes them so arresting. The elements that are represented are death-like in their pallor and stillness. There’s no sense of motion, instead the women look like they were captured post-mortem. Their peaceful body language and impassive faces contrast with their layers and patches. Like the juxtaposition of new and ancient techniques Kahn uses to create these works, the figures are both enduring and fragile.
“These scans, realized as life-size 3d printed statues and installed in darkened rooms as a damaged ancient artifact might be, serve as a incomplete memorials to the body as it moves through time and space.” (Source)
The imperfect sculptures reveal flaws, empty spaces, and altered textures. It speaks of the inability to ever really know a person, as if these pieces of the mapped and printed bodies are all that could be gathered.
“This concern with the instability of memory and representation is the common thread that weaves together the ancient and futuristic aspects of my work.”
Kahn’s fragmented women give form to the futility of capturing the essence of a life.
French photographer William Farges‘ series “White Line” features surreal reflections of body angles, parts, and positions. Farges creates new shapes and figures by placing the reflections of nude bodies side by side, representing a continuity of form that is both startling and elegant. The series is, of course, named for the white line that dissects his diptychs – an element that emphasizes the new forms’ symmetry as a product of an inversion. These forms reach and pull into each other, appearing as if each could disappear into the other. Farges’ images are Rorschach-like deconstructions that are smooth and round and contained. “White Line” is the result of another series of Farges that similarly deconstructs and reimagines the human form, “Chimera.” (via feature shoot)
Around three years ago, Brooklyn-based photographer Lauren Renner began her project, “In Others’ Words,” a series that captures the vulnerability with which people self-identify. During a period of transition wherein Renner began to date women, the photographer started to notice people treating her differently, trying to categorize or label her because of her sexuality, even though she didn’t feel like a fundamentally different person. She found this observation fascinating and she began to wonder how others were stereotyped in accordance with their bodies and relationships. Renner’s project captures these intimacies by shooting her subjects in open, public spaces as well as having her subjects become vulnerable to strangers, allowing them to inscribe stereotyped descriptors onto each others’ naked bodies.
Renner says, “When it comes down to it, no matter who is labeling you, all of those words and constructs become a mish-mash inside of you, and seem to inform each other. Words carry a tremendous amount of power, which is why breaking away from some and holding onto others can feel so insurmountable. On the flip side of that coin, I think people tend to become very comfortable in the ways in which they categorize others, to the point where they may not even be aware that they’re doing it in the first place. ”
After all, at the end of the day we put people into boxes because subconsciously it makes them easier for us to mentally digest. Seeing people view my work for the first time was a huge experience for me because I got to see how people reacted when the boxes they were accustomed to had been taken away.”
In his series Evergreen, the photographer Bjørn Haldorsen visits the Evergreen funeral home in Brooklyn; like throwing flour on the invisible man, his images hope to give form to the invisible, intangible notion of death. In capturing the peripheral objects and mundane moments of embalming and service preparation, he paints a poignantly nuanced portrait of mortality.
These bitterly honest slices of a life once lived avoid sentimentality or theatricality. Unlike in Victorian post-mortem photography, Haldorsen avoids full portraits of the dead, opting instead to capture the seemingly banal elements of the business of death. Staff members arrange casket pillows routinely and perfunctorily, and only the corner of an urn is shot, revealing the accidental dust allowed to collect around it.
Yet within the work is a potent thread of emotionality and love as seen through subtle tricks of light; where a gray-haired body rests on a gurney, a figure, basks divinely in an overexposed door, as if to mourn in mysterious and unknowable ways. Similarly, a man sits in a dimly-lit room, sequestered from the lonesome darkness of the funeral space. Lifeless hands with yellowed nails seem to reach out at the viewer, exhaustedly collapsing on sanitary plastic wrapping, and swelled feet are contorted by wear, dirt still caught between their nails. Youthful hands gently insert a match flame into the wrinkled nose of the diseased; the ritual frozen forever, made to feel sacred and painfully intimate.
Haldorson’s vision of death reads as jarringly rational, offering little solace in the face of death, and yet upon closer inspection, viewers may discover hints of hope, the slightest traces of loving memory, preserved forever. Take a look. (via Feature Shoot)
Argentinean artist Gabriel Grun paints in a style similar to the Renaissance and Baroque masters, but his work is charged with a subdued eroticism that produces a surreal effect. Grun paints the human body, often foregrounding them in natural landscapes, combining mythological and contemporary elements. Many of his human figures are contorted or shaped into grotesque or bestial shapes and poses – these distortions and manipulations could appear disturbing, but because Grun is so technically skilled at composing these eccentricities, they are merely curious and offer a contemporary and sexually-charged spin on a classical style. (via hi fructose)