If you have ever adopted an animal, then Jaime Toh’s SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) “Costume” campaign is sure to tug at your heart strings. Accompanied by the tagline, “Don’t put pedigree above personality,” the advertisements urge people to consider adopting animals in desperate need of a home rather being focused on finding a specific breed (that most likely comes from a breeder). In each image, we see a SPCA animal underneath the coat of a cat or dog with a higher pedigree. In a slightly morbid way, they wear their outsides as a suit, complete with zippers that behead their hosts.
Toh’s images feature smiling, happy dogs with cats do not look as entertained (I’m not surprised). Every animal looks more disheveled than its costume as he plays up the physical differences between shelter and a purebred/adopted pet. But, by visually shedding their outsides, it conveys the concept that when choosing a pet, personality outweighs looks. (Via InspireFirst)
In Spanish photographer Jon Uriarte’s series The Men Under the Influence, he photographs men wearing the clothes of their girlfriends or wives. The images are composed in the space shared by the couple. Uriarte displays ideas of gender through clothing, as the men wear outfits that would be considered feminine, including dresses and strappy sandals. In a short statement about the series, he writes:
This work addresses the recent change in roles in heterosexual relationships from the relations of our predecessors and how those changes have affected men in particular. The photos attempt to capture men’s sense of loss of reference, now that women have taken a step forward and have finally come into their own as equal partners.
While I don’t agree entirely with some of the sentiments in this statement, I do appreciate the gender-bending nature of it. The socially-constructed roles of men and women tie our identities to an arbitrary notion that we each have to be a certain way just because of our gender. Clothing is a way we can outwardly express ourselves and our choices. I like seeing these men, looking unaffected by their attire (and even comfortable), sitting in the the place where they share their homes and their lives. (via feature shoot)
Patty Carroll photographs women who hide behind fabric. In her series, Anonymous Women: Draped, she features figures sitting and standing, all shrouded in luscious fabrics, rugs, and more. These women are invisible, meant to convey the idea that as we perfect the space of our home, it can fuse with our identity. Carroll’s choice in fabrics harkens another era, and look like they could be in the house of a grandparent. The Nuclear family of the 1950′s and 1960′s comes to mind in her work, when women’s roles were often domestically confined. Carroll writes about the series and the inspiration and implications behind it, stating:
I am addressing the double edge of domesticity; the home as a place of comfort, or conversely, a place where decoration camouflages one’s individuality to the point of claustrophobia. The draperies in these photographs act as both a visual cue as well as a literal interpretation of over-identification/obsession! While my direct sources for this series come from furnishing a home, as well as remembering the nuns in their habits while growing up, this series also references draped statues from the Renaissance, women wearing the burka, the Virgin Mary, ancient Greek and Roman dress, priests’ and judges’ robes, among others. I believe everyone has a hidden identity formed by personal traditions, memories, and ideas that are cloaked from the outer world. Cultivating these inner psychological, emotional and intellectual worlds is perhaps our greatest challenge as people, wherever we come from or wherever we live. (Via I need a guide)
You might use emoticons/emojis in your everyday texting or in your tweets, but have you ever really looked at them? Designer Liza Nelson studies their pixelated idiosyncrasies and recreates them in her series EMOJI IRL.LOL. Using vegetables, props, paper mache, and more, she crafts the emojis we all love/hate. Nelson then photographs them and publishes on Tumblr, with the emoji accompanying it. Her opinion of emojis are simultaneously low and high. Appreciative, yet disparaging at the same time. She writes,
Emojis mean everything and they nothing at the same time. They’re completely personal and completely universal. They’re really quite stupid. And they’re the best thing that ever happened to our generation. They deserve to be observed and worshiped individually. By finding, posing and sculpting emojis in real life I’ve created a set of shrines to the individual characters because somebody had to do it.
In a Wired article by Liz Stinson, she describes how Nelson begins the IRL emojis. Stinson writes, “Nelson begins each of her images by analyzing an emoji to the point of deconstruction. ‘I’d take screen shots and zoom in and in until they were super pixelated,’ she explains. ‘I’d study them, really trying to figure out the facial expressions or the color or the details you don’t notice when they’re so tiny.’” Since starting the project, she’s gotten quite a few requests for the emoji poop icon. Nelson says she will be constructing it out of clay. (Via Wired)
British photographer Vikram Kushwah recreates pieces of the past with staged photography. Working with fashion designer, writer, and researcher Trisha Sakhlecham, the two produced a series of images titled Memoirs of Lost Time. The subject matter, its tone, and coloring of the photographs are a dreamy and hazy. They straddle the fine line between what is a dream and what is a memory. Each image features a person gazing beyond the landscape, as though they are longing for something lost.
On his website, Kushwah writes about Memoirs of Lost Time. He says that the series is inspired by the romantic notions of childhood memories, and goes on to say:
…A biographical documentation of sorts, of seven creative personalities’ childhood recollections, this book captures not only what was, but also suggests a very imaginative take on what could have been.
Stories evocative of the intimate moments and bygone days of these personalities are embellished with wondrously staged pictures featuring the subjects themselves. Each chapter takes you into the personal and never seen before world of one of these personalities with a short story, an insightful interview and photographs, weaving in and out of reality, where you start beginning to drift into a realm of imaginative possibilities and yet remain attached to the facts that were.
With dreams, like distant memories, we sometimes question whether or not something actually happened. While this could be distressing, Kushwah chooses to embrace uncertainty and magic of it all. There are some fantastical elements, like a woman that is carried away by small umbrellas. But mostly, these images lack action. Instead, they depict quiet moments in the company of many books or the vast outdoors. Reading and nature provide the perfect fodder for imaginations to run wild. (Via My Modern Met)
North Korea is a country famous for its censorship. Even so, Associated Press photographer David Guttenfelder has been able to capture images of the country and share them via Instagram. Recently, the DPRK relaxed their laws surrounding the internet. Foreigners are allowed to carry their phones with an activated 3G network. Guttenfelder talks about his motivations and experiences to Wired magazine, stating:
“In a country known for its censorship, I’m now uploading photos to Instagram from the streets of North Korea like I would anywhere else in the world. Through social media, I’m trying to piece together a picture of this country for the outside world … No one puts their hand in front of my camera, and no one tells me not to shoot things. There’s no review process. They don’t look at my pictures at all before I send them on the Associated Press wire or my Instagram account. Facebook even asks me to tag my “friends” Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung when I upload my photos.”
Displaying his photos on Instagram allows for followers to interact with Guttenfelder directly. He welcomes this, and comments on one of his photos, writing, “I appreciate the comments and the direct connections. It has given my work a cool and unexpected extra purpose.”
Guttenfelder posts photos of everyday life, displaying different aspects of the country and the influence the regime has on the cultural landscape. Of course, because they have been “Instagram’d” they look old, but are completely contemporary. In some of these photos, based on subject matter, it’s hard to imagine that they are of our time. (Via Huh Magazine)
“Your staff are the nicest pooch lovers in the world. Penny, my precious little wiener…is looking forward to her next stay.”
“Quality of toilet paper could be better…3-ply minimum…otherwise it was a great room and enjoyable stay.”
“I had just given an unflattering review to a volatile pop star’s latest album and heard through the grapevine he was staying at the hotel. I was certain he was going to exact some kind of revenge…after many anxious phone calls…one of your staff kindly offered to stay up with me until I calmed down.”
For the holidays, the Standard Hotels produced a 2014 calendar that details a look back at 2013. In a collaboration with advertising agency and publisher KesselsKramer, the hotel chain reviewed and recreated moments from 2013’s favorite guest letters, comments, and special requests. From all of the bizarre things they had received throughout the year, they narrowed it down to 12 that were reenacted by the hotels’ staff.
If you’ve ever worked in the retail or service industry, you know how weird or picky some people can be. The comments and requests that the Standard Hotels receive is no different. One customer claimed their TV was possessed. Another believed that the hot tub had melted their prescription lenses. One guest was a music journalist (directly above) so anxious about recent scathing review he published that hotel staff stayed to keep him company until he calmed down. He was very appreciative.
In the midst of the holiday season, with record cold temperatures in parts of the world and Winter Solstice, the shortest day/longest night of the year, upon us, I’ve been spending time studying work made with a simple organic material: Ice. Truth be told, despite spending my childhood in Minnesota, I now live in the desert, and the only ice I see is in my drinking glass. After studying art works made with ice as a central material, I am struck by a number of repeated inclinations by a number of artists. Much of the works I present here demonstrate that the transitory and temporal qualities of ice lend it to meaningful works about the body, time, climate, a sense of place and elements of endurance. Though this list is in no way exhaustive, artists included are: Marina Abramovic, Jay Atherton and Cy Keener, Nele Azavedo, Kirsten Justesen, Greatest Hits (a collective), Julie Rrap and Tavares Strachan.