Sebastian Masuda’s Colorful Rebellion Takes Inspirations From Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Harajuku Kawaii Culture

Japanese artist and leader of Harajuku kawaii culture, Sebastian Masuda, celebrated color and texture with his most recent, and first exhibition here in the US, “Colorful Rebellion.”

Last month, Chelsea’s Kianga Ellis Projects provided Masuda with the space to create a wonderfully weird, colorful wonderland that included plastic toys, bundles of fake fur, stuffed animals, and other accoutrements of manufactured cuteness. The installation was to be read as an autobiographical space, one that, through its many layers, compiled  universal themes such as delusion and fate. The aesthetics of the piece takes from Masuda’s main passion, Harajuku fashion.

The installation included a “zone” for desire, the future, delusion, fate, wounds, and reality, with the seventh zone (a reference to the seven deadly sins), “entrusted in your hands.” Although there was definitely something a bit dark at play, the space, overall, exuded Masuda’s rebellious but lively ways of seeing.

The installation was up until March 29th, 2014 at the Kianga Ellis Projects in New York.

(via Hyperallergic)

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Laurie Simmons’ Photo Series About Japanese Subculture Of Cosplay

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Laurie Simmons‘ recent show, Kigurumi, Dollers and How We SeeSalon 94 Bowery in New York, features eerie looking photos of dollers (also known as Kiggers), a circle of Japanese cosplay enthusiasts (Kigurumi), who dress up like anime-style female dolls and wear their costumes out in public. The men and women involved in this fascinating ‘counter-cuture’  go to great lengths to suppress any lingering vestiges of their own bodies, wearing 360-degree masks, wigs, and full bodysuits.

Simmons gathers her own models and Doller costumes in order to create her own line of Kiggers.

Some of my cosplayers are men and some are women but they all portray female characters. I try to explore the psychological subtexts of beauty, identity and persona surrounding the assembled Dollers. At first I dressed them only in fetish latex, which seemed both doll-like and right for their identities, but it soon became clear that they needed to expand their repertoire and play dress up.

Along her collection of photographs, we see this odd juxtaposition between the inanimate and the living; how is it possible to be experiencing something both so fake yet so real all at once? It is that and more- Simmons’ gives these ‘dolls’ the opportunity to experience the phenomenon of the selfie (“Yellow Hair / Red Coat / Snow / Selfie” [2014]) and an overall exposure to what is to be present, as something outside of the realm of the average human being, in the current world of self-promotion and its agenda (perfection, beauty, etc). “Might masking (becoming a Kigger, in this instance) be at least part of the appeal of contemporary forms of imaging and presentation of the self via social media?”, asks Simmons.

 In the last decade the boundaries separating identity and persona have become increasingly blurred — as individuals ‘present’ their BEST selves to their Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers. One tilt of the iphone can make the difference between a glamorous, funny or obscene selfie. I wonder about the fuzzy space between who “we” are to ourselves and the “we” that is invented, constructed and expressed using the readily available tools of the 21st century? Aren’t we all playing dress-up in some part of our lives?

Laurie Simmons: Kigurumi, Dollers and How We See in on view at Salon 94 Bowery (243 Bowery, Lower East Side) through April 27.

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Photographs Of The Unconditional Love between An Elderly Woman And Her Cat

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It doesn’t get better than being loved by a fluffy, soft animal. It is said that the love between a guardian and their pet is unconditional; an-almost familial bond that grows bigger and tighter as time goes on.

Thirteen years ago, Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara began snapping pictures of her now 88-year-old grandmother, Misao, and her odd-eyed kitten, Fukumaru. Misao, a farmer and merchant of fresh vegetables, found the cat abandoned in a shed, and the pair has been inseparable since then. She named the cat ‘Fukumaru” in hope that “God of fuku (good fortune) would follow her. Lucky for the 88-year old MIsao, Fukumaru stayed by her side through hard work and disability. They simply make their life better just by being together. The photographs are just a gilmpse at how wonderful, and important their friendship is to each other.

You can find the complete series in Miyoko Ihara’s  book, Misao the Big Mama and Fukumaru the Cat. The book can be purchased directly through Little More Books. (via Before it’s News)

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Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival Is The World’s Largest Winter Wonderland

Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival

Sapporo Snow Festival

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Every winter, nearly two million people from all around the world venture to Sapporo, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, to celebrate all things winter for one week at the Sapporo Snow Festival. The festival, which has its roots from when the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972, has been taking place since the early 1980′s. From enormous buildings, temples and slides to more intricately detailed and finely-sculpted statues, the city’s streets are full of all types of snow and ice works to celebrate the natural beauty of the winter season.

Now the festival draws sculptors and competitors from all around the world for its famous annual competitions, taking place in several different sites around the city. The event has set several World Records, including the audience-participatory construction of the most snowmen ever made in one place (over 10,000 – a record which still stands). The next installment, now the 65th Sapporo Snow Festival, will be held this February 5th through 11th in 2014. (via weirdtwist)

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Riusuke Fukahori’s Incredibly Realistic Golfish Sculptures Made Out Of Resin

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Riusuke Fukahori, a Japanese artist with an endearing obsession with goldfish, paints three-dimensional renditions of the fish by using a complex process of poured resin on authentic Japanese household containers.

Fukahori strives to paint the goldfish as realistically as possible. His love for the funny looking fish goes beyond words, and the only way to truly pay homage to his ‘friends’ is through creating these unbelievably real-looking sculptures made out of resin. Fukahori keeps dozens of goldfish in tanks and buckets around his studio, he sits and watches the goldfish when he feels uninspired or simply needs company.

His work can be quite deceiving; the goldfish look so real that when people first see his work they find it impossible not to try to reach into the ‘water’ and touch the ‘fish.’

Each of Fukahori’s resin pieces [the resin goldfish] are contained in a variety of everyday Japanese household items. His usage of these items in his work reflects a personal touch, as many of the containers used were bowls and cups that he himself used for years.

The goldfish resin sculptures entail very complicated, repetitive, and labor intensive steps. He first pours a layer of resin, then lets it dry, then paints a small portion of the fish, then lets it dry, then pours another layer of resin—he patiently repeats these steps until the final product is achieved.

“I didn’t invent resin and not the first to use resin. I am not a resin artist. I am a goldfish artist. I think it’s obvious which pieces are Riusuke Fukahori pieces because the imitators use the wrong containers. They will never understand goldfish the way I do. They are only copying the craft, not the soul.”

The Painted Breath, an exhibition of new resin works and paintings by Fukahori, will be on exhibition at the Joshua Liner Gallery in New York on November 21st,2013 till January 18th,2014.

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Electrifying light bulb sculptures of Hitoshi Kuriyama

Hitoshi Kuriyama creates elaborate light installations using complex clusters of shattered fluorescent light bulbs. With Kuriyama, fluorescent lights and LEDs become life forces that animate the darkness of the universe with an irregular, unpredictable rhythm.

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Topographical Maps Carved from Electrical Tape and The Thread Sculptures of Takahiro Iwasaki

Check out the artwork of Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki. “Not only are his small buildings and electrical towers excruciatingly small and delicate, but they also rest on absurdly mundane objects: rolls of tape, a haphazardly wrinkled towel, or from the bristles of a discarded toothbrush. Only on close inspection do the small details come into focus, faint hints of urbanization sprouting from disorder.” (via).

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Shugo Tokumaru “Katachi” Paper Stop-Motion Music Video

Shugo Tokumaru “Katachi” from Kijek / Adamski on Vimeo.

Need to brighten your day? Get ready. This is a stop motion music video from animation duo Katarzyna Kijek and Przemysław Adamski for Japanese singer-songwriter Shugo Tokumaru.  Inspired by an everlasting chain of memories, It features a continuous parade of about 2000 silhouettes extracted from PVC plates set to Tokumaru’s quirky track Katachi (which means “shape” in Japanese). Really. I dare you to be sad after watching this.

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