Pieter Hugo Documents South Africa’s Scars Of Colonialism

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Pieter Hugo’s “Kin” is the photographer’s closer look into his motherland and a personal approach to the incredible human diversity surrounding him. Hugo’s photo series from South Africa depicts the issues of race, social status, economical despair, sexuality and his own place in such “fractured, schizophrenic, wounded, and problematic place”.

Despite being complicated in content, Hugo’s photographs carry a distinctly serene, calming style and the sense of connection between the photographer, camera and the subject. Regardless of who’s in frame, an unknown homeless drifter, domestic servant, or his pregnant wife, Hugo captures their essence and tension in a simple static shot.

“[Kin] is an engagement with the failure of the South African colonial experiment and my sense of being ‘colonial driftwood. [South Africa] is a very violent society and the scars of colonialism and apartheid still run very deep. Issues of race and cultural custodianship permeate every aspect of society, and the legacy of forced racial segregation casts a long shadow.”

Based on his photographic approach, Pieter Hugo raises questions to himself and searches for answers through his work. How should one live in this diverse society? Should one accept the historical aftermath for granted or try to change it? How to raise a family in these circumstances?

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THE SLAP Is A New Social Experiment Where 40 Random People Hit Each Other In The Face

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The Slap, a totally fresh video by filmmaker Max Landis, is a clever response to the famous First Kiss video that went viral three months ago and has been making all of us go awwww up until now. Landis’ video features 40 randomly paired people in a fairly uncomfortable situation – the goal for them was to slap each other in the face. Even if it’s the first time they had met.

According to the author, none of the participants were pressured to do so and all of them were “hit as hard as THEY asked to be hit”. The beauty of this project lies in the contrast between a somewhat violent action of hitting other person and the intimate feeling the participants develop towards each other.

Though Landis really was aiming to mock the famous First Kiss video (which is obvious from the black and white color palette and similar upbeat music), he did go beyond just that. His explanation video called Point Of Impact explains the reasons for him to make “The Slap” in the first place.

“What is violence? It’s really just a label, isn’t it, if you let your mind go to a dark place. I decided to define violence as “non-consensual physical interference;” <…> What is trust? Do you trust someone not to hurt you? Are you even thinking about it? Do you care if they hurt you if you trust them? <…> The theory was: A slap, robbed of its violating context, is more intimate than a kiss. My theory, as it turned out, was right.”

Btw, did you notice the cherry on top? At 1:48, there’s Haley Joel Osment (yup, the kid from The Sixth Sense) being slapped straight into his lush beard.

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The Gruesome Artwork Of Sarah Best Will Give You Goosebumps

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The artist Sarah Best creates astounding replicas of the female body, using it as a symbol that tracks the human desire for connection and intimacy; severed from the rest of the body, her sculpted hands and a cut-out collaged breasts take on a life of their own, worming their way up walls and pages and sometimes tracking blood in the process. The work, though sometimes gruesome, maintains a pulsating beauty; as if with clear intentions, her vital sculptures navigate space, dangling from hooks and exploring piles of cloth.

From both a feminist and an aesthetic standpoint, Best’s work operates in a miraculous, subversive manner; the feminist philosopher Susan Bordo, for example, writes that the body, coded female, is often seen as passive and lacking in intellect, explaining that therefore the body alone has the power to challenge those sexist ideas. Positioning parts of the body within cubistic collages and arresting installations, Best allows it to transcend societal definitions. Rather than figuring as part of a whole to be admired and objectified, limbs actively seek out understanding of the outside world, touching and feeling everything in their paths.

Wonderfully vulnerable yet undeniably powerful, female arm bears Christ-like stigmata, and the physical body searches for spiritual meaning. The oppressive boundaries between the corporeal self— too often considered to be unintelligent, immoral, and “feminine—” and the elevated metaphysical self are effectively shattered, and a new kind of humanity begins to emerge, one to which we can all relate, one that is beautifully desirous, yearning, and sometimes lonesome.

I got the amazing chance to speak with Best, and when I asked what advice she’d give to aspiring artists, she simply said, “Keep your integrity. You will only count, for yourself and in your art, to the extend that you keep your integrity.” Take a look.
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Sexual Experience Deconstructed In Erotic Photos (NSFW)

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The photographer Sarah Anne Johnson snaps shots of the most intimate kind, asking friends and acquaintances to sit for her while engaging in sexual activity: intercourse, foreplay, kissing, masturbation. Later, the artist enters into a new kind of dialogue with the erotic photos, covering her portraits in glitter and gold plate or scratching away their emulsion in strategic places.

The form of Johnson’s series, titled Wanderlust, brilliantly echoes its content. In penetrating the materiality of the photographic medium by altering its surface, Johnson makes as much of a statement about artistic or creative lust than she does about human sexuality. The gently cracked, ashy layer of a burnt chromogenic print mirrors a lover’s tender caress; similarly, a halo of scratches parallels a couple’s orgiastic pleasure.

Despite Johnson’s unconventional process—perhaps even because of it—Wanderlust seems a powerfully honest rendering of sexual intimacy. At times, human closeness becomes cosmically infinite, a moment of love solidified in gold plate or starry glitter. But many of the photographs complicate the notion of what it means to be truly vulnerable; often, her collage work obscures and flattens one lover, leaving his or her partner alone, isolated in the frame and utterly naked.

Johnson’s work relies on this tension between connection and isolation, a theme which serves to imbue the series with a palpable sense of sexual tension; for instance, two bodies are deconstructed in Puzzle Pieces, formatted to appear unified under one complex and paradoxically disjointed aesthetic. Simultaneously penetrating the viewer and and leaving us to gasp for air, the body of work is a must-see. It is currently on view at Toronto’s Stephen Bulger Gallery. (via Art in America and Feature Shoot)
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Sivan Askayo Finds Intimacy Under the Wires

New York-based travel photographer Sivan Askayo explores intimacy through a universal behavior: hanging clothes out to dry. Askayo’s series Intimacy Under the Wires depicts clotheslines from around the world—snapshots likely more personal than intended. According to Askayo, the project began in Tel Aviv, and continued through Madrid, Barcelona, London, Florence, Venice and Buenos Aires, and we have to take her word for it: aside from small hints in t-shirt logos, random signage and perhaps an architectural clue, locations are largely a mystery.  Read More >

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