Here’s another parent and child collaboration (recall yesterday’s post). However, this one does not deal with the heart-warming ways of an autistic boy, rather it involves a sleeping baby, teddy bears, and tons of imagination… Queenie Liao, mother and photographer, creates Wengenn in Wonderland, a compilation of photographs that depicts a mother’s exploration of what her baby’s dreamland could possibly be like. Liao photographs her son, Wengenn, in his sleep- her sleeping son, however, is not the main focus point here. With a little creativity, some clothes, sheets and teddy bears, Queenie crafts a myriad of endearing scenarios in which her sleeping son participates in. Is little Wengenn dreaming what his mom thinks he is dreaming? Although we can never truly know what babies dream about, this little gem of a collection projects what we wish it to be: flowers and butterflies, colored trains, towers of books, bunnies and castles, and trips to the moon. Let the whimsy of this collection take over you; it feels good. After all you might just go to sleep tonight hoping to dream just like little Wengenn does in these photographs! (via My Modern Met)
Echoliia, a collection of photographs taken by Timothy Archibald, is a heart-warming study of the photographer’s 5-year-old autistic son, Eli. In hopes to get his frustrations out through creativity, Archibald photographed his son’s odd but endearing behaviors in order to understand him better and create a stronger, trustworthy relationship between the two of them.
The collection reveals the child’s unique perspectives and interaction with the world around him. With a trashcan on his head and a cardboard tube ’arm’, Eli conquers his world. His dad couldn’t be prouder to capture the uniqueness he exudes.
“I never wanted [Eli] to think that he was normal. I wanted him to be aware of how different he was and see that as an asset.”
Through this series, not only do you acknowledge Eli’s quirks, but also witness Archibald’s accepting and loving gaze.The father and child collaboration is available in book form on the artist’s website. (via My Modern Met)
The photoseries Skins by British photographer Rosanna Jones has all the necessary elements of alluring art; a distinctive and unique perspective, inventive technique and haunting imagery. Describing herself as a fashion and portraiture photographer, as well as a mixed media artist, Jones currently studies photography at Falmouth University in Cornwall, UK. Created as part of her Final Major Project, Jones began the series investigating how the face many of us present publicly ends up being the front which conceals our true nature from ourselves. This perspective is particularly poignant for a fashion photographer, who no doubt has seen firsthand an industry which is quite openly based on hiding and disguising imperfections. Says Jones, “…my theme was Concealment - looking at concealing ourselves until we’re no longer recognisable.”
Jones’ work was also inspired by another photographer known for obscuring the human form, Rik Garrett and his Symbiosis series. Garrett explains his artistic goal in the over-painted photos as “erasing the boundaries of the human body. By applying paint directly to the surface of photographs, I have actualized an impossible dream…” a process that when paralleled to Jones’ Skin series creates a unique bond between the two photoseries.
Jones is intentionally vague on the specifics of how the over-painted and (possibly) collaged images are created, which only adds more allure to the shrouded and obscured works. Says Jones, “A few people were confused when seeing them in real life about what they literally were – the more mystery the better I say – but they’re digital photo collages which are then overpainted”, giving each work both emotive beauty and metaphorical weight rarely seen in conventional fashion photography.
Iain McKell, a renowned fashion and social documentary photographer, has compiled a series of compelling images, The New Gypsies, which depicts both the physical and emotional life of a modern traveler community living in the outskirts of a technology-driven society. McKell creates surreal images that almost treat his subjects as fictional characters, yet we find that there is an undeniable hint of warmness, liveliness and honesty that instantly creates a strong bond between viewer and subject.
The British horse-drawn travelers whom sport decorated caravans, colorful clothing, and share a desire for freedom from the trappings of contemporary life, served the artist as more than just an artistic project; he calls the 10-year study “a personal journey.”
With these photographs, McKell intends to show a way of living that is both colorful and meaningful- something that lacks in contemporary living. He states that the tribe draws from the past and combines with the future, therefore “creating a set of progressive new ideas and values that are not based on materialism […] and are not chained by the stress and complications of our modern existence.”
In 2011, the photographer published a book of the series by the name of The New Gypsies by Ian McKell, it includes essays by Val Williams and Ezmeralda Sang. (via Huffpost Arts & Culture)
Pieter Hugo, a South African photographer, plays with color channel manipulation to create portraits that highlight the impurities on his subject’s skin to make a statement about race, the colonial experiment in South Africa, and contemporary ideas of beauty.
There’s a Place in Hell for Me and My Friends entails portraits of the artist’s friends- all whom call South Africa their home. Through the manipulation of color, Hugo emphasizes the sitter’s blemishes and sun damage making them look darker than they would normally appear without the editing process.
In these portraits one sees how the sitters’ environment, a place where there is incredibly harsh sunlight, has started to ‘corrode’ our epidermis. This speaks to me about the South African colonial experiment – all these people from all over the world, thrown together within the confines of a nation by the forces of history. The damage left by the sun and the environment becomes allegorical of the burden of South Africa’s tempestuous and fraught past. History leaves its marks on us. It eats away at us. We cannot escape its heavy weight.
Besides the political allegories found in the work, Hugo is also interested in highlighting the errors of racial distinction by revealing that beneath it all, beneath our skin, we all look the same. As the critic Aaron Schuman writes about Hugo’s work, “although at first glance we may look ‘black’ or ‘white’, the components that remain ‘active’ beneath the surface consist of a much broader spectrum. What superficially appears to divide us is in fact something that we all share, and like these photographs, we are not merely black and white – we are red, yellow, brown, and so on; we are all, in fact, colored.” (Images via Stevenson)
The Burqa, full-body cover up worn primarily by Islamic women of faith, has been subject of much controversy for decades, especially in Western societies. Many say that the garment oppresses women, leaving them astray and without a voice in a world were men dominate them.
Selina Roman‘s Burqa Project takes the Burqa and turns its literal meaning around through the medium of photography and visual composition in order to challenge the viewer’s mainstream knowledge of it.
Roman, a former reporter, hopes to offer her audience a different view point, a new way of seeing, she comments on her artist statement.
Although the Burqa is shrouded in religious significance, I take it out of this context in an attempt to explore these other attributes. Instead of showcasing it as an oppressive garment, I place the Burqa in idyllic Florida landscapes to let it float and billow. In turn, it becomes an ephemeral and weightless object removed from its politicized context.
Apart from Roman’s obvious emphasis on the beauty and femininity that these garments project, she also wants to shed light on the qualities that we often forget to acknowledge. There are many interesting characteristics that the Burqa provides to any that wears it- i.e anonymity, security, and power.
Joseph Parra is an artist working with the human portrait and figure. While he obviously draws and paints very well, Parra is not necessarily concerned with perfectly replicating what someone looks like. He finds this notion limiting to an artist; after all, a photo or realistic painting can only go so far. You’ve made someone look like their outward appearance, but now what?
Parra strives to delve deeper into the figure or portrait and reveal what is unseen. His work questions what it means to be human using a couple of different methods. One way is through layers. Aside from a portrait, he adds of media that distorts the face or the body. Parra scrapes, pricks, and sands his subjects. In his words, this is “acting as reminders that we are merely a union of ideas.” Additionally, he will cut, braid, or fold paper as a way to express the complex nature of humanity. Oneself (directly below) is the same portrait but manipulated in three different ways. It references the fractured, multiple, and twisted ways we often view ourselves. Some days we think we’re great, while others we are loathsome.
Much of Parra’s work is screen prints and digital prints, which I think enhance his ideas and again parallels the human experience. We see these images mutilated and/or distorted, and they look very textural. Yet up close, they are mostly reproduced images and have a smooth sheen – the rawness is kept contained. I compare it to having a friend who appears very put together on the surface, but beneath you know they are a mess.
Parra was featured last year on Beautiful/Decay, not long after graduating college. Since then, he’s created more work that focuses on the braiding or manipulating of paper, which are some of my favorite pieces. I’m looking forward to seeing where Parra goes from here.
Petros Chrisostomou, a New York based photographer, plays with scale, mass-produced and ephemeral objects, and hand-crafted mini architectural models in order to challenge the viewer’s visual certainties, and visual signifiers of contemporary mass culture.
The multi-faceted works resemble lively assemblages of what seem to be large-scaled mundane objects in exaggerated interiors – some resembling wreckage, and others referencing the extravagance of a Rococo palace.
Christosomou’s photographs become the field for mixing the high- and the low-brow, mass culture and genre painting, the luxurious and the expendable, as indications of social class distinctions. At the same time, the relations between the real and the imaginary in his oeuvre are a commentary on the mediated images of contemporary mass media that distort the natural and immediate dimension of our relation to reality, determining, among other things, the conditions for viewing and receiving art.
The relevance of this body of work does not completely rely on its technical complexities, and cultural commentary, but also in its visual power. We know that the artist is not fabricating monumental sculptures resembling stiletto shoes, instead he is fabricating small-scaled architectural spaces- that play out with the objects, making them look bigger than they seem. It is important to notice, as curator Tina Pandi points out that “the alteration of scale and reversal of the relation between object and environment, between imaginary and real space.”