Often treading between reverence and ridicule, the mystifying allure of art that reiterates sexual transgression remains suspended within a deviating purgatory of the sacred and the obscene. Buoyantly drifting within the underbelly of normative culture, the erotic and transgressive create a synergetic relationship in a strike against societal conventions. Through a crude presentation of social perversions, the atmosphere created through sexually transgressive art permits an insight that challenges not only sexual precepts, but invites a critique of human behavior irrevocably influenced by social structures. In an explosive resurgence of suppressed sexual impulses, the following artists create frantic, tense and exquisitely obscene renderings of deviations and sexualized social distortions.
Was your high school experience as glitzy as the one in photographer Akasha Rabut’s series Edna Karr? (The title comes from the school in New Orleans where the documentary-style photographs were taken.) We see cheerleaders, the dance team, and marching band getting ready to perform in these quiet behind-the-scene shots . Girls are applying their makeup, fixing hair, and sitting idly before they hit the city streets of a parade and come alive.
The series is a balance of high and low energy. As people kill time on their phones the scene is still. But when the kids are moving, Rabut captures the spirit of the performance, with sequins gleaming. The faded, low-saturation image are reminiscent of vintage photographs, and if it weren’t for the cell phones, we might just believe it. This plays to a sense of odd nostalgia for high school, a time when many of us wanted to feel grown up but just weren’t quite there. It was activities like the band or dancing that helped define the experience, and is a symbol of a relatively simpler time. (Via It’s Nice That)
Dutch photographers Anuschka Blommers and Niels Schumm depict both sexes simultaneously in a series entitled Best of Both. It appears in Baron magazine for their The Future of Sex issue. The images feature nude male and female figures posed in different yoga-esque positions on the same gray carpet, with one half a man and the other a woman. Bodies are twisted matched up perfectly to create one whole person.
The combination borders on ordinary and strange. On one hand, these figures are nude, which is nothing new; we’ve seen it throughout our lives and plenty of times within the context of art history. But, at the same time, its creates a person whose extreme twists and distorted views (we see the butt attached to the front of a chest) immediately reads as something amiss. It subverts any sort of preconceived notions we have of the individual in a simple but effective manner. (Via It’s Nice That)
The story of photographer Rebecca Litchfield’s traveling to the ruins of the old Soviet Union reads like an adventure tale. As she and her guides were in the midst of exploring abandoned buildings and monuments, they were discovered by authorities. She explains:
Not many explorers travel to Russia where the rules are very different, locations are heavily guarded and a strong military presence exists everywhere. There are serious consequences for getting caught. We managed to stay hidden for all of the trip, we maximised our stealthiness, ducking and diving into bushes and sneaking past sleeping security. But on day three our good fortune ran out as we visited a top secret radar installation. After walking through the forest, mosquitoes attacking us from all directions, we saw the radar and made our way towards it, but just metres away suddenly we were joined by military and they weren’t happy…
Litchfield risked radiation exposure, experienced arrest and interrogation, and was accused of espionage as she shot this series of stunning photographs. They depict areas of abandonment – forgotten monuments, peeling paint, a places where nature has taken over. The photographer offers many haunting sights never seen before by western eyes.
These images were comprised into a book entitled Soviet Ghosts. They were all taken by Litchfield, while essays and articles by Professor Owen Evans and Neil Cockwill from Edge Hill University and Tristi Brownett.
French artist Didier Massard creates eye-deceiving miniature dioramas depicting surreal, mystical landscapes. From a first glance, these sets remind of extremely detailed, hyper-realistic paintings or digitally rendered images. The striking effect unfolds after closer examination, when the viewer is exposed to careful layering and thoughtful light arrangements.
Massard explains his inspiration comes from real and imagined places. The limits of real life infuses his imagination to create mythological and romantic scenarios, which he then calls “the completion of an inner imaginary journey”. China, India, the cliffs of Normandy and many other locations have been depicted in Didier’s works.
“There were many places in the world where I’d never gone that I wished to photograph. I realized that they would not at all look like the images I had of them. Reality was different from my imagination. So I started building and photographing in a studio what I had in mind.”
Artist spends months constructing his miniature worlds, thus the collection is only slowly growing in size. Massard started his career as a commercial photographer for fashion and cosmetic companies like Chanel, Hermes and others. After his first series of dioramas, titled “Imaginary Journeys”, his work was acknowledged and now Didier works exclusively on his personal projects. His work is currently on display at Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles until August 23.
The world of dollhouse miniatures is dominated by sweet structures with period-perfect furniture and impossibly tiny accessories. Leanne Eisen subverts all expectations with “Play” her photo series of 1/12th scale brothel, strip club and other sex trade sites. Eisen makes the pieces of these meticulously detailed scenes herself, having found difficulty in sourcing ready-made miniature condoms, porn magazines and sex toys. The spaces have a seedy, disreputable air enhanced by the details—a used washcloth hangs haphazardly over the sink, sequined shoes are abandoned on the strip club stage, and a forest of egg timers sits under posted house rules. Although Eisen had not been in an actual brothel, she researched films, documentaries, books, and photographs to create her voyeuristic spaces.
The photographs in “Play” are enlarged, playing with scale to disorienting effect. Scenes that are rendered in miniature are suddenly life-size again, with no referent of scale in the images. These are realistic spaces but they are also fantastical. No woman will ever spin on the golden pole. The cow clock in the kitchen will always read 10:10. These abandoned rooms tell their stories through their contents. She says:
I am very interested in residential spaces; the artifacts that we accumulate and leave behind, and how they tell our stories in our absence. I also find the idea of a space that is seemingly a workplace as well as a residence intriguing. In these photos, the viewer takes the role of voyeur, and can take the time to analyze the setting at a perhaps more manageable, less intimidating scale.
The series also serves as a commentary of the accepted social roles for women in a residential space. Where a traditional dollhouse might have a domestic mother figure keeping house, these spaces are intended for women as sexual objects. Whether in the sad paneled room with the pink-clad single bed or in the black walled sex chamber with its red X and metal cage, these are spaces intended to commercialize women.
Through detailed conceptualization, deliberate craft and artful photography, “Play” blurs the lines between whimsy and menace, making pointed observations about the place of women in this world.
What are you going to do when you’re retired? Will you tinker in your garage, enjoy making crafts, or go on giant sight-seeing trips? Photographer Harry Griffin paints portraits of old age in his series titled Gold Coast. Dentures, wrinkled hands, and an easy chair, and more showcase a quiet-yet-luxurious existence in a sunny place like South Florida.
The vividly-colored images are cropped compositions that are bizarre in the framing. Although we know that we’re looking at retirement, it’s hard to glean a lot of information about what we’re seeing. So, a guy taking out his dentures wrapped in green plastic is equal parts amusing and confusing. It doesn’t seem that different than the act of getting old itself – moving towards a life of easy living while at the same time finding yourself doing ridiculous-looking things to keep up comfortable and entertained. (Via La Monda)
Do you know what kind of trash you accumulate over the course of a single week? For California-based photographer Gregg Segal, this question comes with a loaded context: there’s the irrefutable issue of Americans producing more trash than nearly any other country, as well as the large-scale ramifications producing so much waste has on the environment. In his new ongoing series, ‘7 Days of Garbage,’ Segal recruited friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances to compile a week’s worth of their personal garbage and allow him to photograph them lying in it. The photos are provocative, with Segal crafting beaches, bodies of water, and other natural settings to place emphasis on the garbage his participants were willing to bring to him. “Of course, there were some people who edited their stuff. I said, ‘Is this really it?’ I think they didn’t want to include really foul stuff so it was just packaging stuff without the foul garbage. Other people didn’t edit and there were some nasty things that made for a stronger image.”
Segal aimed to include people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, providing for a fascinating display of different kinds of trash. By shooting from an overhead angle, garbage strewn between created natural environments, Segal crafts startlingly personal portraits that are oddly still detached, conveying a more poignant message lying underneath. “Obviously, the series is guiding people toward a confrontation with the excess that’s part of their lives. I’m hoping they recognize a lot of the garbage they produce is unnecessary,” he said. “It’s not necessarily their fault. We’re just cogs in a machine and you’re not culpable really but at the same time you are because you’re not doing anything, you’re not making any effort. There are some little steps you can take to lessen the amount of waste you produce.” (via Slate)