For her series of ceramic sculptures titled Shadow Circus, Kirsten Stingle draws upon her extensive training in the theater to create subtle narrative pieces. Incorporating found objects with her considerable technical ability, the artist summons dreamy stories through her command over gesture and shape; the blend of rusted objects and newly formed faces stands in for any physical movement normally employed to convey the passage of time.
Shadow Circus is evocative of miniature puppetry works like Alexander Calder’s legendary circus, where only the slightest details make the inanimate appear human. The narrative power of the circus lies of course in motion, which Calder once evoked with his pulleys and threads; Stingle impressively avoids the performative, and her painfully still works appear as if frozen, on the verge of animation.
In this way, each figure reveals itself like a funerary figure, meant to accompany not Cleopatra but the modern woman into her tomb, bringing with her objects useful in some imagined underworld: a machine-horse hybrid motorbike, a foreboding rowboat with wheels. The work’s religious iconography further realizes this thrust toward an otherworldly eternity; a Catholic-style papal mitre makes an appearance, surrounded by delicate symbols of the cross.
The artist also seems to pull from the work of women artists like Georgia O’Keeffe, combining fatalistic bleach white bone with the seductive prettiness of a pink rose, red lipstick, or a baby doll wearing pale bunny ears. Placed firmly within this feminine aesthetic, Shadow Circus is simultaneously blossoming and fertile and eerily disquieting; Stingle’s nuanced work appeals both to a fear of death and a hope for rebirth. Each piece, with its antique aesthetic and meticulously fashioned visage, is poignantly left eternally waiting for the movement and life that feels so inherent within her. (via Hi-Fructose)
Scott Dalton, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker based in Houston, Texas documents the pilgrimage devoted to Mexican faith healer, Niño Fidencio, in Espinazo, Mexico.
Through the years in Mexican cultural history, Curanderos (Faith Healers) have served an important role in peoples’ medical and spiritual lives. In fact, many of these healers become celebrities, as their miraculous healing creates huge followings. In the early 20th century, El Niño Fidencio became one of the country’s most celebrated healers; today he is regarded as a folk saint by thousands of his devotees, or, as they call them, fidencistas.
In 2009, Dalton traveled to Espinazo to document the festivities devoted to El Niño Fidencio.
“What interested me in the project was just the idea of faith, and how it takes a variety of forms in peoples’ lives. This project just looks at one part of that, but I think it serves a reminder of how important faith is for so many people throughout the world, and how we all come to terms with our own belief system within the context of our own society and environment.”
Fidencistas believe that modern-day curanderos can channel the spirit of Fidencio; these photographs show many of the rituals provided by these modern day healers. To us this looks unusual, cinematic and surreal, but to them these ritualistic activities only mean their salvation. Dalton said he witnessed transformations, in which the eyes of curanderos would roll back and they’d assume a high-pitched voice- taking Fidencio’s spirit in order to heal. (via Slate)
Teodora Axente is associated with the Cluj School, a group of Romanian artists making work after the 1989 Revolution, which ended Nicolae Ceausescu’s communist regime.
There is a dark sense of carousing in her work which examines the question of boredom in a secular world. Left to his or her own devices, Axente’s adult figures conjure up spirits or flights of whimsy in seemingly childlike ways, often seeking solace in shiny and tactile objects such as tinfoil, plastic wrap, or furs. However, translated to a non-secular world, each stroke Axente makes seem satirical or political, consciously examining religion or capitalism.
According to the artist, this dichotomy is the exact intention: “One of my concepts is to transform a real fact into a game . . . It is all about play from my perspective, the playfulness is more than a world of novelty in which everything happens and is reconstituted because of the freedom to act, to think.”
The stark sculptures of Al Farrow are jolting in their simplicity. His Reliquaries series of sculptures are houses of worship and reliquaries (a container for holy relics) built from weapons and ammunition. Stacks of bullets form walls, barrels form steeples, and muzzles form minarets. Farrow’s artistic commentary on violence in connection with religion is a powerful one. Using a provocative medium to create loaded imagery (seriously, pun not intended), Farrow’s work easily elicits strong responses from viewers.
The work of Gilbert & George is as intricate as it is bizarre. Never holding back their views on politics, religion, or homosexuality, this work always manages to offend, or at least shock, someone.
Gilbert and George beautifully contradict their visual and conceptual visions. This combination of a style that mimics stain-glass windows found in churches collides with negative connotations about religion and conformity to create an image that gets you thinking.