Kostis Fokas is a rare photographer who possesses the innate ability to both create and capture personifications of the provocative in our human form. Challenging and sexually-charged, the work is visually reminiscent of fashion photography, but pulls inspiration equally from painterly compositions by using the body as a metaphor for sexuality, potency, and humanity. In a conversation with Beautiful/Decay, the London-based, Greek photographer explains, “Through my photos I wish to present a new take on the human body and explore its infinite capabilities. The use of quirky, and sometimes hidden faces communicates exactly that. Unlike photography that seeks to reveal the feelings of the objects portrayed through the use of faces and expressions, I shift my focus on the complete freedom pertained to the image of a human body. Stripped from its clothes, I leave it fully exposed and completely surrendered.”
With faces hidden and bodies often stripped bare, the human form becomes a landscape of tension, fully exploring the paradox of submission. A balding man running a brush over his head becomes a metaphor for self-conscious impotence and existential awareness, while a naked woman hovering over a cactus represents a more immediate (and less philosophical) danger. In Fokas’ work we realize that submission is often related to acceptance, mirrored by the artist stating, “Submissiveness often conveys surrender to something greater and more powerful than us.” This duality becomes both a metaphor for the nature of photographic direction, as well as for life, as the human experience is compressed into simultaneously simple and complicated gestures arranged by the photographer with willing participants, and captured on film.
When asked if the work’s sometimes daring exploration of sexual themes and sexuality is ever misinterpreted, or even offensive, Kostas diplomatically responds, “My images aspire to touch on some of these issues, among others, and definitely raise many questions but it is ultimately left up to each individual viewer to decide and reach his own conclusions.”
Let’s face it. Going to the movies can be an expensive and sometimes obnoxious endeavor. As the popularity in streaming services like Netflix and Hulu grow, it’s so much easier and cheaper to just stay at home. But, when you look at these photographs of grandiose theaters by Franck Bohbot, it makes you wish you paid the $15 to be there. In his series simply titled Cinema, he captures the old elegance and spectacular detailing of these places, all of them empty so you can see all of their idiosyncrasies.
Not surprisingly, all of the photographs are theaters in California, in Hollywood and beyond. Some of the decor of these places is totally over the top, like the Orinda Theater, where faux Egyptian hieroglyphics line the walls and guests sit in red velvet seats. Or the Brava Theater in San Francisco, which has an absinthe green ceiling. The Crest in Los Angeles lines its walls with a city landscape and its ceiling dotted with stars, making its patrons believe they are viewing a film outside.
Bohbot’s photography frames these places so they really shine. He controls the lighting and exposure, making these venues appear glitzy and impressive, probably more so than they actually are. But isn’t that movies are trying to do, and by extension the theaters, too? They want you to escape your everyday life for a few hours and believe that you are somewhere else. (Via Flavorwire)
In a surreal and slightly disturbing series titled Running Gag by the Hamburg-based studio POP. Postproduction, they imagine what it would be like if shoes teeth to accompany their tongues. POP specializes in photo-retouching, and manipulated the images has the loafers, boat shoes, and Converse sneakers laughing and grinning. Some have a gap tooth, others a gold grill, while some have hardly any teeth at all.
There is some correspondence with the teeth and the shoe. For instance, the pink canvas shoe with decorative laces has a mouth full of braces, so we’d imagine they are a teenage girl. The gold-studded loafer is an “alternative style” to the preppy shoe, so its gold lip ring feels appropriate.
Despite being slickly-produced and brightly-colored series, the Running Gag is subtle, and it’s only after more than a seconds glance that you realize there are teeth in these shoes. It’s POP’s Photoshopping skills that add to the believability of these characters, and they look liked they’d be right in place in a horror film. (Via Design Taxi)
Ludovic Florent‘s new photoseries Poussières d’étoiles (which translating as Stardust) features the natural beauty of the human body in motion, capturing dancer’s poses in moments of ecstasy, distress and grace. Each photograph is highlighted by the staging, a chalk and sand floor which enhances each movement, with dust clouds mirroring the appendage’s motions to create a dramatic physical presence of their own. Florent says, “In our changing society, my photographic work is guided by a humanistic look, willingness to foreground the natural beauty of the body, free to express his grace and personality.”
The Metz, France-based Florent created Poussières d’étoiles for Gallery HEGOA, and in anticipation for the European Festival of Nude Photography in Arles, France in May, 2014. The photographer further explains his work, “‘Behind every carnal envelope hides a soul that is both sensitive and flamboyant as I try to capture in each of my photographs.’ We certainly enjoy his work guided by a humanistic look, finding expression in a series that is both, sensitive and vivid.” (via ignant)
In the series No Seconds, photographer Henry Hargreaves recreates and records the last meals of Death Row inmates. He captures not only what they ate, but accompanies the photos with what was on the menu and the crimes they committed. Hargreaves is no stranger to the Beautiful/Decay blog, where he was last seen collaborating with food stylist Caitlin Levin. With this particular project, it’s all him, fueled by his towards incredulousness of the US Death Penalty as inspiration. “In New Zealand (where I’m from), and in fact nearly any where else in the developed world, the Death Penalty is just not even in the conversation.” Hargeaves states. “It is a remnant of an earlier era. This little bit of civility, ‘hey we are going to kill you but what would you like to eat?’ just jumped off the page.”
These last meals are recreated beautifully, and the photographer depicts each with its own style. Some, like the fried chicken dinner of John Wayne Gacey appears greasy and gluttonous. Others, like Victor Feguer’s single olive is a poignantly positioned on a gold-trimmed plate.
Food is a common thread amongst diverse groups of people, and the eating habits and choices made can tell you a lot about a person. In researching the project, Hargreaves tells Vice, “The thing that kind of struck me with these last meals was how many of them were these big, deep fried meals, which we like to call comfort food. Here were these people in their last moments and all they really want was a little bit of comfort.” This is one of the last messages someone on Death Row could send, and their choices make you contemplate the message they might be trying to send. What was Timothy McVeigh trying to say when he ordered two pints of ice cream? We’ll never know. (Via Huffington Post and Vice)
Linny and Pat, met on Craigslist ‘Missed Connections’
Mariela and Tiago, met on Tattoodatingsite.com
Cora and Will, met on Craigslist ‘Free Stuff’
With so many ways of finding love online, it’s no surprise that nearly one-third of married couples in the United States were introduced this way. In the series We Met On The Internet, photographer Jena Cumbo teams up with writer Gina Tron to document couples whose love stories started from an encounter on the web. Cumbo photographs the couples in their homes and occasionally out in public, while Tron records their story. You might think of Match.com, OKCupid, eHarmony as the way most people find their mate, but in reality, they meet in a bunch of different and sometimes strange ways. We get a glimpse inside of the lives of couples who took advantage of the matchmaking that the Internet has to offer.
Perhaps one of the more unconventional introductions was between Cora and Will (photo directly above), who met through Craigslist “Free Stuff”. Here’s their story:
Cora and Will met because of a Craigslist ‘Free Stuff’ listing. Will had free movie tickets and Cora was the taker. This was back before Craigslist anonymized responses. In the signature of Will’s email, Cora noticed his website. She clicked on it and discovered he was a talented graphic designer. She was intrigued by his work and they kept in touch, and their friendship turned romantic. They are now married and had a daughter in 2011 and a son earlier this year.
We Met On The Internet is an ongoing series, so if you or someone you know met their partner online, you can contact Cumbo. (Via FeatureShoot)
Years before the project Miradors became reality, photographer Erwan Fichou saw a man standing in a tree that looked like a UFO. This image stuck with him and he eventually turned his memory into a reality, working with gardeners to design topiaries of varying shapes and sizes. Afterwards, he invited people off the street to climb those trees and photographed them at the top.This strange and light-hearted series illustrates the interesting progression of what happens when we have a memory. Often times we see things as we walk down the street, file them in our brain, and move on. So, it’s refreshing to see that Fichou returned to this moment and developed something completely new from it. He touches on this idea in a short statement about his work:
What’s interesting about pictures isn’t their function, to represent reality, but their dynamic potential, their ability to spark and build projections, interactions, narrative frameworksmechanisms that structure reality[ ...]an image is the result of movements that are temporarily sedimentary or crystallized in it[ ...] Beyond metaphors, we must understand that, paradoxically, our contemporary sensitivity predisposes us to prophesy, not history. We live in a world of images that precede reality; we’re not looking to see, unless it’s déjà-vu. (Via This is Paper)
In the photographic series Processed Views, valleys of Fruit Loops surround a lake of milk, while marshmallows create a hazy, pillowy landscape. Shot as a collaboration between Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman, the photographs interpret the frontier of industrial food production as the line between science and nature grows thin. In a statement about the work, the pair writes, “As we move further away from the natural sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”
These photographs are simultaneously appealing and disgusting. Ciurej and Lochman have set the scene and produced grandiose, often idyllic looking landscapes that mimic splendor you’d find in the natural world. However, when you remember that these a mixture of real food and unpronounceable chemicals additives, it’s hard to find them as attractive. The crashing waves of syrupy sticky Coca-Cola is not somewhere that I’d like to visit.
The style of Processed Views references the work of Carleton Watkins (1829-1916). He is famous for his photographs of the American West, framing it as a land of endless possibilities. Ciurej and Lochman go on to write about the photographer, who was commissioned by the corporate interests of the day including the railroad, milling, and mining industries. “Watkins embodied the commonly held 19th century view of Manifest Destiny – the inevitability of America’s bountiful land, justifiably utilized and consumed by it’s citizens,” they write. Now seen as the land of excess, the series is a metaphor for the manifest destiny of processed foods. (Via Makezine)