The installations of Elmgreen & Dragset are a special brand of humorous – they are absurd. The art duo blend installation art, design, and even performance to turn a skeptical eye toward the familiar. The duo often begin with familiar objects and situations of habit. A slight variation seems to make the situation absurd, the behavior required silly. For example, a series of crates presumably contain art either resting in precarious positions or are already ruined. A botched art delivery becomes a commentary on the value of art.
The architectural firm Tetsuo Kondo Architects makes creative use of a unique material: clouds. They carefully manipulate the humidity and temperature in buildings to create indoor clouds. This eventually creates three distinct layers within the room with actual clouds gathering in the middle. The firm uses the space to allow visitors to experience the cloud from below, within, and above. In a way clouds are architectural components of the natural world that serve several practical purposes. Tetsuo Kondo Architects pull these clouds inside not only as a strange material, but also as a symbol of the relationship between architecture and the surrounding environment. (Via Collabcubed)
The photographic murals of Mike Hewson don’t exactly decorate the buildings they inhabit. Rather, the murals create surreal optical illusions, highlighting the buildings by nearly making them disappear. Hewson, creatively uses perspective to erase walls or even entire structures. In some of his work this reveals the buildings inside – its purpose being put to use. Other times, his work interacts with the building in order to recall an empty space or a space’s potential. Hewson’s murals hints not only at structures that we’d often take for granted, but our often overlooked relationships with them.
In his giant installation art / performance Para-Production, artist Ni Haifeng reverses the common global process of production. A massive movement of commodities takes place each day often beginning in the country of Ni Haifeng’s birth – China. Many companies defer production of their goods to the country which are then often exported for consumption in the Western world. In Para-Production, however, a large room is filled with loose garments and sewing machines. Gallery visitors are then invited to work, to sew these items together. In a way, the installation becomes a performance of labor – people that are often the consumer of Chinese-made products instead produce a product for a Chinese artist. [via]
The performances of Zhu Ming are filled with almost a lonely kind of pensiveness. Covered in paint, he enters the bubble often floating on water. The bubble is specially created for the piece and specifically designed to slowly fill with water. Soon the paint is washed off Zhu Ming’s body as he floats quietly alone. The bubble emphasizes the solitary nature of his performance, and underscores ideas of existential isolation. Zhu Ming’s work unfolds silent and strange sort of dignity that is difficult to not project onto life as a whole.
The work of South African artist Mary Sibande is complex much like the identities it addresses. Sibande creates life size sculptures, primarily of black women. The sculptures are arrayed in large ornate dresses which, rather than shed light on the subject’s identity, complicate it. The dresses seem to be a perfect blend of Victorian upper class and a maid’s uniform. Sibande’s grand installations efficiently comment on gender, class, colonialism, and beauty. To further underscore these issues, Sibande arranged for huge photographic murals of the installations to be displayed throughout Johannesburg.
The design studio/street art crew known as Truly Design is truly an expert at creating anamorphic art. The group is playful with both literal and figurative perspective. The Medusa anamorph, for example, does precisely this. According to the myth if a person looked directly at the serpant haired Gorgon they would instantly turn to stone. Perseus was only able to slay the monster by looking at her reflection. Similarly, this Medusa can only be seen from singular perspective.
Tomas Saraceno is a master of transforming a space and infusing it with an interactive surreal quality. His installations that are constructed to provide viewers with the experience that they are walking on a cloud are absolutely captivating. The soft dream-like magic of his work is more tactile and intimate, however, in this paper installation Cloud House featuring cloud like formations made only out of smaller geometric matte paper structures.