Photographer Brian McCarty combines the innocence of childhood with the horrors of war in his series WAR-TOYS. Violent scenes are reenacted with toys; Bombs are dropped on a pink plastic house, while toy soldiers gun down a giant-headed doll. McCarty’s source material is the drawings of children who live in war-torn areas like the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel.
The artist travelled to the sites where the children had been, which adds another level of sadness to these images. This project is not just the undertaking of McCarty, but he pairs with other aid workers as well. From his artist statement:
Employing principles of expressive art therapy, my process begins with observation and guided interaction with children under the care of humanitarian organizations operating in areas of active conflict. Specialized therapists and caregivers conduct art-based interviews on my behalf, inviting children to draw pictures about their lives and experiences. The resulting illustrations serve as art direction and basis for photographic exploration.
McCarty tries to involve the tiny artists, too, and uses toys that are acquired locally. You’ll see that a Disney Princess is in the line of fire. He writes:
When possible and under the guidance of specialists, I invite the children to actively participate and use the photographic process as a form of therapeutic play. The resulting photographs provide an interpretive document of witnessed events and context for the children’s accounts.
McCarty plans to continue this project and travel to Afghanistan, Sudan, and Colombia. (Via Huffington Post)
Photographers Pierre Javelle and Akiko Ida(previously here) found love through photography while attending art school, but they also found a way to combine their interests in gourmet food and miniature worlds by combining them all into playful scenarios. Their most comprehesive series, MINIMIAM, has been an exploration of visual solutions in miniature since 2002. Says Ida, “We’re both food photographer in our daily work, and we’re both quite crazy about cooking, eating and everything about food. So when we started this small people series, naturally we created the stories related to the food.”
The series (a portmanteau from mini and miam, meaning yum! in French), sets miniature figures in whimsical settings, opening up the possibilities of food photography and creating stories from visual puns. The figures are found from model train set kits (usually 1/87 scale), and seen sledding through icing like snow, blowing air into raisins with a handpump to explain the origin of grapes, and recalling Michelangelo by carving away the shell of a peanut to set free the trapped sculpture (peanut) within.
Mark Twain once noted, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to”, indicating more than just a lack of fur separates us from our fellow mammals. Swiss photographer Vicky Althaus is known for taking risks to achieve unique scenes for capture, but her newest series offers something even more primal.
Going beyond setting the human body in a natural environment, Althaus has set her subject in what appears to be the familiar scene of a natural history museum. This combination, rather than simply pairing a model with live or taxidermied animals in a more natural state, calls into question our ideas of conservation, our relationship to animals, as well as our relationship to our own bodies. Offering very little titillation, the model’s nudity mirrors the animals, though the interaction appears off-putting, enhanced by the dimly lit room and drab staging. Perhaps the most interesting observation is that the nude model, merely stopping in and solely as a visitor, appears as unnatural as the stuffed animals that are meant to portray some example of our natural world. (via juxtapoz)
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)