Japanese photographer Osamu Yokonami’s voyeuristic series Assembly features groups of young women who all dress the same. The eerie images are shot from a distance, making the viewer feel as if they’re spying on the troops. And with their backs turned towards the camera, you don’t know exactly what their motivations are. Although they don’t appear to be causing any mischief, we can’t be so sure.
Yokonami writes about Assembly, stating:
Each person has their own personality. I try to keep a bit of distance between us in this work. Then, the existence of each person disappeared and the existence of the group appeared instead. The strength and beauty as a collective entity stood out more by being in nature. I was attracted to the expressiveness of the group. (Via WeTheUrban)
Award winning photographer Blake Little completely transforms the classic nude figure into a sleek, sticky, sculptural entity in his series Preservation. Little, known for his skills as a portrait photographer, captures each of his subjects after he pours gallons of honey onto their nude bodies. With its use of honey, this seductive and sticky-sweet series has a unifying element that breaks down the differences in the subjects. Little’s models are extremely diverse with a wide range of body types. However, the honey breaks down the unique and personal details of the person and allows them to become a more universal, timeless figure. They all adopt an ageless beauty that one might see in classic, Greek sculpture.
It is no coincidence that Little has chosen the title Preservationfor a series that takes contemporary subjects and gives them a more classic and traditional look. By transforming a unique body into an archetypal figure, they can withstand the test of time. They are now one of the unforgettable figures in art history such as Venus of Willendorf. Not only does this amazingly transformative honey preserve the importance of the figure, but also it allows the figures to look as if they have been literally preserved as they are encased in honey, not unlike the citizens of Pompeii preserved in ash.
The dripping, glossy texture is palpable in this incredibly intimate and tangible series. Preservation were on view at the Kopeinkin Gallery in Los Angeles from March 7th to April 18th, where the photographer is represented. Blake Little’s book Preservation, containing sixty-eight photographs of his honey-filled nudes, is also available. Here is an excerpt from the Forward of Little’s book, written by Kenneth Lapatin, Associate Curator of Antiquities at the Getty Museum.
Since its invention in the 1800s, photography has been employed as a key tool of archaelogy, caputuring images of not only finds, but also the very processes of recovery. Its capacity to record the details of perishable objects – to preserve them – is evident in historical photographs of now degraded artifacts and of excavation sties, many substantially transformed by the very act of digging them and scarcely recognizable today. But today we are also well aware that photography can be far from objective; that it can be manipulated; that it can create something entirely new, original, and surprising.
In the series Daimones, photographer Federica Landi adorns pictures in a family album with her saliva. The new works feature bubbly spit obscuring faces, bodies, and create diffused patterns across the compositions.
On her website, Landi uses this quote to describe the importance of the drool:
The saliva replaces the seminal fluid in many cultures, used as magical element that can cure and fecundate through the single contact. Since it comes from the mouth and preserves the vital energy, it is often associated to the essence of the breath and the soul. (Craveri E. Michela,Intrecci di culture, 2008)
Photography is one way that we can keep the past with us, even after it is long gone. From Landi’s statement about Daimones:
The inclusion of saliva (a fluid certifying identity) on the photographic surface, creates a layer of contingent “presence”, intimate re-appropriation of the family archive, attempting to ‘cure’ the fallacious nature of memory and to ‘fecundate’ its connection with our current time.
Saliva is thus the glue that keeps together two dimensions: the motionless time of photography and the contingency of identity. (Via Tu recepcja)
It is always exciting and refreshing to see traditional art methods used in a whole new way. Artist Danielle Lawrence‘s fresh eye on contemporary art takes the conventional framed painting and transforms it into highly textural and sculptural work, taking it to another level. In her work, the frame is often still present, but the art inside it is spilling out, exploding from the frame that confines it. It is almost as if the paint has a life of its own, trying to escape from the cage and constraint we have given it. Lawrence explains that the frame is a symbol of patriarchal structures and restriction.
Lawrence’s non-representational painting method allows the colors to melt and drip, creating incredible movement in each piece. These colors appear bent, folded, and manipulated, creating organic forms. Each bright, glossy color erupting from each canvas and frame turns the typical two-dimensional painting into a more palpable, three-dimensional piece that reaches out at the viewer. Her artistic journey began while experimenting using trash as subject. Still pulling inspiration from found objects, the artist’s work often includes items from her studio, including plastic bags and bubble wrap. Lawrence’s take on form and material is both chaotic and structured, creating order out of an eclectic range of colors and media. She flawlessly creates a beautifully balanced mixture of classic painting methods with a new, contemporary approach.
She’s an avowed formalist with an eye to the street. Her works are lustrous and abject, smooth and sharp, blunt and sophisticated. While painting is clearly her passion, she makes promiscuous use of other media: sculpture, drawing, photography and video.
Photographer Joshua Hoffine is interested in the psychology of fear. His series of horror-centric images called After Dark, My Sweet, focus on what lurks behind us, underneath the bed, and below the stairs. Hoffine’s frightening, realistic-looks photos offer not only a compelling narrative, but are awe-inspiring in their craftsmanship and attention to detail. They look believable, making them even more scary. “I stage my photo shoots like small movies, with sets, costumes, elaborate props, fog machines, and special effects make-up,” Hoffine explains. “Everything is acted out live in front of the camera. I use friends and family members, including my own daughters, as actors and crew.”
The photographer also writes about his fascination with horror:
We are all born with certain inherent and instinctual fears, such as fear of the dark, the fear of lurking danger, and the fear of being eaten. As we grow older these fears lose their intensity and are slowly shuffled away into our Unconscious.
Horror, as an art form, draws its strength from the Unconscious.
I believe that the Horror story is ultimately concerned with the imminence and randomness of death, and the implication that there is no certainty to existence. The experience of Horror resides in this confrontation with uncertainty. Horror tells us that our belief in security is delusional, and that the monsters are all around us.
At first glance, this series by photographer Stacey Tyrell seems to portray nothing out of the ordinary, just portraits of white women living their lives. At closer inspection, however, you realize all of the women look the same; they share uncanny similarities with just a few differences in hair, eye, and skin color. In reality, Stacey Tyrell has staged these scenes representing depictions of Caucasian women using herself as a model. Interestingly enough, the artist herself is black. The title of Tyrell’s deeply memorable series is BackraBluid. Backra, originating from West Africa, means white master or person. Bluid is a Scotch word for the blood of men or kin. These two words combined represent two different points of origin in the artist’s family heritage. Tyrell explores her ancestry in this series, which includes English, Scottish, and Irish.
Most everyone in post-colonial societies, especially in the Western world, is the descendant of a diverse range of ancestry, producing many individuals with what may appear to be ambiguous ethnicities. These individuals may identify with one, multiple, or even none of their racial or cultural identities. However, by nature, humans want to make sense of their surrounding and tend to place others in categories. Stacey Tyrell has experienced this first hand. She explains the significance of this experience in relation to Backra Bluid.
Upon viewing my physical features I am automatically assigned a racial identity by whoever is looking at me. Skin color often obscures and over-rides the features and markers of other races that may be present in my genetic make-up. By simply changing my skin color and making subtle tweaks to my features I wish to show that if someone were to take a closer look at my face they would see that it might not be that much different from their own.
British artist Sophie Derrick paints directly onto her skin and adds colorful layers of swirling pigment to her face and neck. Once she’s completed it, she’ll photograph the result and then paint onto that image. The result is a multi-layered, textured portrait that gives the viewer an incredible sense of depth. Derrick’s painting style is abstract – focusing on bright pinks, blues, oranges, and more – and she’ll vary how the paint is applied. It often looks like she uses a palette knife to make thick, frosting-like strokes, but she’ll also use the paint tube to draw lines on the skin.
“I have a great interest in the materiality and substance of paint, and execute this interest through photography, creating a juxtaposition of the two mediums,” Derrick writes. “My body becomes the canvas for the paint, questioning the traditional concept of painting and portraiture, and the barriers between painting and photography. The body becomes both object and subject in the work.” (Via Art Fucks Me)
Photographer Mark Holthusen shows an unexpected side to cockfighting in his aptly-titled series Pelea De Gallos (Cockfight).Instead of capturing the brutal matches, he went a more tame route. Holthusen rented a photo studio called Hollywood Fotos and invited the Partido Tres Hermanos cockfighting team in Zaragosa, Mexico to have their portraits taken.
Holthusen’s pictures focus on seven different team members that pose with their beloved rooster. Some cradle the bird in their arms with others grip it with both hands. Either way, the majestic-looking creature sits as calmly as the men do.
In a blog post about Pelea De Gallos, Holthusen shares his experience. The team is made up of people who are a dentist, teacher, businessman, and student. “In the end they were nothing but smiles, excited to have their pictures taken.”
However docile these images appear, they are tainted with the knowledge that these birds are forced into a cruel blood sport where death is an outcome. Roosters are specifically bred, fed, trained, and given steroids to make them into killing machines for our entertainment. It’s illegal in the United States but still popular and prevalent in many other countries.
If you enjoy Holthusen’s photos, check out his Second in Show series that we recently featured. It highlights the eerie similarities between show dogs and their owners.