Paul Koudounaris’ Photos Of Human Skeletal Remains Adorned With Opulent Costumes, Precious Jewels

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The photographer Paul Koudounaris has made a name for himself by photographing the mysterious dead: mummies, skeletons, ossuaries.The enchanting subject of his recent project Heavenly Bodies are the never-before photographed relics of Europe’s Catholic churches, said to be the bones of Christian martyrs. At their discovery in 1578, these remains were taken from underground tombs and enthroned as objects of worship in place of earlier saintly relics ravaged by the Protestant Reformation.

The opulent adornments that surround the remains (i.e. wigs, gemstones, gold lace) reflect the decadence of the late Middle Ages, when churches ornamentation became more elaborate and extravagant. Dressed like royals, these saints suggest an afterlife filled with heavenly pleasures. Against rich, dark fabrics, the precious metals shine brilliantly; within a tight frame, Koudounaris shoots from below, simultaneously capturing the splendor up-close and elevating the sacred remains to a slightly higher plane.

Although he exalts his subjects in this way, Koudounaris’s images remain touchingly human; while some images capture gigantic, enthroned figures with the utmost deference, others focus on small, humble details. A gap where a tooth once sat or a clenched skeletal hand serves as a poignant memento mori, reminding viewers of the human deaths that happened long ago. The mysterious remains, of whom no one knows the full story, are seen ambiguously, both as a suggestion of an enraptured afterlife and a morbid recognition of mortality and decay. Take a look at the mesmerizing images below. Heavenly Bodies is available in print here. (via Colossal and Hyperallergic)
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Sarah A. Smith’s Corroded Gold Leaf Drawings

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Sarah A. Smith corrosive gold leaf drawings

Sarah A. Smith creates shimmering gold drawings with a combination of gold metal leaf, corrosive, ink, and pencil on paper. After she arranges the metal leaf that was mined and manufactured in China, she brushes it with copper sulfate, causing a chemical reaction that tarnishes and corrodes the gold metal along the surface of the paper. In the natural environment, this erosion process can take hundreds of years to complete. “The oxidation illustrates pollution, disintegration, transformation of elements, changes, and the passage of time,” Smith says. The result is an incredibly detailed and textured series that while extravagant is also evocative of restraint because it emerges from a process of decay. (via my modern met and diablo magazine)

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Hubert Duprat’s Flies that Create Precious Works of Art

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It’s difficult to tell who is the artist in this work.  Hubert Duprat began working with caddisfly larvae in the 1980′s.  The caddisfly live in streams and use bits from their natural surroundings to create a casing to live in.  Typically this is made up of pebbles, wood, plants, and so on.  Duprat moved these caddisfly larvae to a new surrounding and delicately removed their outer shells   The caddisfly than used the precious metals and stones of their new home to create strangely glamorous shells.  It’s interesting to note the particular materials and patterns the larvae tend toward.  The flies’ “creativity” and Duprat’s conspicuously absent hand in work makes it extremely intriguing.

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