Images and news of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been circulating media for a few weeks now. The photographs that emerge out of this war are tragic and graphic. A handful of Palestinian artists have been transforming images of smoke and fire from the attacks on Gaza into portraits that reveal the very real and human cost of these rocket explosions. By inscribing faces and bodies onto images of destruction, these artists are reminding people from all sides that war takes its toll on an individual, human level, a fact that is often erased when the media creates its narratives. These simple, yet powerful, illustrations give these Palestinian artists a voice that they might otherwise not be given, a voice that tells a different story than the ones represented in the original photographs. (via demilked)
We’ve all seen the “Before and After Photoshop” versions of photographs, displaying the ways in which various media distort our perception of ideal beauty. But what would these images look like in other countries? With her series Before & After, Esther Honig, a radio journalist based out of Kansas City, asked just that. With the help of Fiverr, a website for freelancers, she got in touch with artists from forty different countries; emailing each a self-portrait, she wrote, “Hi, my name is Esther Honig. Make me look beautiful.” When they did not understand the assignment, she simply told them to make her look like the most popular fashion models.
When artists from twenty-seven countries replied, she was astonished with the results. Some edits were so dramatic that she yelped aloud; others, like the image from Morocco, in which she was given a hijab, stole her breath. Some cultures favor a bare face where others apply makeup. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the work is the overwhelming presence of Western feminine ideals: pale white skin, pink cheeks, a dainty nose, and wide eyes contoured with trimmed brows.
In the end, the series expresses the extend to which often oppressive beauty ideals are meaningless; where a woman is declared beautiful in one culture, she might be plain in another. Yet for all women, regardless of ethnicity and background, the pressure to be beautiful remains, propagated by the whims of the contemporary media. Writes Honig, “Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.” (via Buzzfeed)
Amidst the violence and chaos ravaging parts of her native Lebanon, the photographer Rania Matar does not aim to make sweeping political statements about the Middle East; with her complimentary bodies of work titled Ordinary Lives and What Remains (now on display at Houston’s Bank of America Center), she hopes to capture the resilience of the human spirit. Fighting the photographic and documentary urge to re-victimize survivors of war, she offers a more nuanced picture of the lives of Lebanese women and children.
Much of Matar’s work explores global representations of femininity—in a recent monograph, she published images of adolescent girls inhabiting a space between freedom and familial responsibility, the childhood bedroom— and in Ordinary Lives, the artist’s powerful sensitivities color the otherwise bleak black and white war-torn landscape. In “Broken Mirror,” a young woman meticulously adjusts her veil before a shattered mirror, her perception of self seen as fractured by her environment but preserved within her emotional core. Similarly, “Dead Mother” captures the veiling process as a ritual connecting female youth to a monolithic photograph of the matriarch, an undercurrent of modern political and social debate serving as a relentless backdrop.
What Remains operates as an arguably less subjective series of architectural photographs, documenting the aftermath of 2006’s war between Israel and Hezbollah. The series separates itself from Ordinary Lives in its deliberate use of color; the bright blues and yellows read like surrogates for the displaced families that once inhabited the violated spaces, offering a powerful tonal continuation of the striking and complexly seen human spirit captured in Ordinary Lives. Where we once viewed children, embracing the walls in rich gray tones, we are offered a Winnie the Pooh wall hanging, daydreaming beside an empty closet. Take a look.
I’m a little bit in love with the work of Tel Aviv-based artist, Guy Yanai. He chooses to paint routine spaces and objects that range from his therapists office to potted plants. He then abstracts the images into simplistic bright colored shapes that leave you with a graphic imprint of the everyday. Check out more of his work after the jump.
Gal Weinstein, based in Tel Aviv, does some really cool sculptures. Burning tires, mosaic explosions, sputtering chimneys- this stuff is hard to ignore. Some people feel that we’re closer to the apocalypse now then we ever have been, whether it’s brought on by our own means or otherwise. Weinstein’s work often illustrates a sparse, unforgiving wasteland full of smoke and red brick. Even the sculptures that depict elements of life are disconnected, removed. Farm plots are reduced to tiny, green squares. The closest we get to humans are rows of stoic Foosball figures. But somehow there’s still hope in the artist’s work, which holds color and intrigue. (via)