For his surreal photo manipulations, the Buenos Aires-based digital artist Martin De Pasquale contorts his own body to imbue the mundane rituals of daily life with a sense of humor that sometimes veers into the realm of terror. With the wonderfully oxymoronic title “Impossible Photography,” De Pasquale’s work stretches the medium to its limit, boldly questioning our assumption that the photographic object necessarily reflects reality. Though indeed impossible, the strange and comical mishaps— and horrors— of the work speak to very real existential anxieties.
Here, the human body emerges as mechanical, much like the the camera itself. Like the gears of an advanced automaton, heads and faces are replaced with ease, and the treat of mortality is abated with ever-renewed body parts. In some ways, the impossible photographs recall the paradox of the Ship of Theseus, a thought experiment which asks if a ship remains essentially the same after each of its parts are replaced. Here, the ship becomes a human being; in the daily grind of life, our protagonist is continually deconstructed and reassembled. Does he become generic, or does he hold fast to his identity?
In so questioning the individual, De Pasquale’s imaginative images challenge the notion of replication, which in turn examines the very nature of the photograph. Seen here many times over, the self is given over to a mysterious—and frightening— sort of duplication, giving rise to unnatural yet indistinguishable bodies that are ultimately mere simulacrums of the original. Take a look. (via Demilked)
While visiting the town of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Italian photographer Martina Bacigalupo discovered a very unusual set of studio portraits. Despite being perfectly composed, none of them featured a subject’s face as they were all cut out leaving blank rectangles in the photograph. Oddly enough, it appeared to be a common practice in Gulu for taking ID photos.
Bacigalupo visited Uganda searching for ways to document this community, which was suffering from violent conflicts. The first faceless photograph she had stumbled upon lead her to meet Obal Denis, the owner of the oldest photography studio in town, the Gulu Real Art Studio (est. 1973).
“The portraits were well composed, with subjects seated on a chair or on a bench, with a blue, white or red curtain behind them, in various poses and modes of dress. Obal <…> told me the secret behind those pictures: he only had a machine that would make four ID photos at a time, and since most of his clients didn’t need four pictures, he therefore preferred to take an ordinary photograph and cut an ID photo out of it.”
For Bacigalupo, these ‘leftover’ images were the purest form of representation of Gulu’s society. She gathered the unused prints and interviewed clients of Obal’s studio. To most Ugandans, who suffered from more than two decades of war, taking new ID photos marked important changes in their lives: getting a driver’s license, starting a new job or applying for a loan. The value of such events is perfectly conveyed through the subject’s pose, gesture, clothing and other subtle details.
Guia Besana, born in Italy and based in Paris, has created a photography series titled “Under Pressure” that portrays women in contemporary society with its neuroses and complexes, but with an artistic and stylistic flourish – one evocative of tales from a storybook. Besana stages scenes, creating single, still images that are representative of a fictional story reflecting the pressures women face to be perfect including themes of marriage, burn-out, conflict with body aesthetics, excesses, and other questions involved in a woman’s identity. Besana’s thoughtful series is at once dark and playful and demonstrates the photographer’s artful vision- she has an eye for composition, patterns, and style, and creates a striking fine art aesthetic that pairs beautifully with the theme of contemporary women’s identities. (via dark silence in suburbia)
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.”
Texas-based artist Adrian Esparza uses nails and the thread from Mexican sarape blankets to weave colorful geometric patterns. Growing up in El Paso, Esparza encountered these blankets on a daily basis. Using his background as a painter, Esparza observed that the blankets contained painterly qualities that he sought to deconstruct. The result is an unraveling of a Mexican cultural symbol into a new form, a multi-dimensional landscape of color and shape. Esparza’s deconstruction and transformation of this cultural symbol reflects the displacement of identity that many Mexican-Americans experience as a result of migration. The wall pieces Esparza constructs from the serapes, though completely transformed, recall macrame and other handcrafts from the artist’s culture. Through his work, Esparza reinvents the ordinary and asks the viewer to embrace the potential for creative transformation that can be found in the familiar and the mundane.
After her parents were murdered in Tehran, Parastou Forouhar was exiled to Germany. Just like her parents, Forouhar is critical of the Iranian government, and it is with this adherence to and separation from her Iranian identity that her work is based. Forourhar says, “The production of identity, and the repressive mechanisms by which it is reified, comprise the focus of my work. My homeland, Iran, is a constant theme in my artistic practice, but the conception is complex and continuously in flux. Beyond Iran, there is also the collective memory of Germany, where I have lived since 1991. When I arrived there, I was Parastou Forouhar, but I have since become ‘Iranian.’ Every space I inhabit is accompanied by a feeling of displacement.”
For her “Written Room” project, Forouhar covers the blank surfaces of gallery and museum spaces with Persian calligraphy. This creates an elegant aesthetic that is fragmented and fluid. “Whereas the white walls of the gallery room are raised to a universal norm and an unmarked instance, the Oriental ornament stands for difference or the deviating.The writing is also strange, if not alien, because it is illegible for Western visitors – as an ‘incomprehensible’ text it becomes a pure ornament. In defying attempts by Western visitors to assign it meaning, the script remains locked into its irreducible pictorial graphicness and indissoluble representation.” Even if one had a grasp of the Persian language, they would only be able to decipher fragments and syllables of the language that are not part of any linear order. Forouhar’s work ultimately seeks to bridge the gaps in her identity as an Iranian and German. (via fubiz)