Using repetitious and precise cuts, artist Robbie Rowlands manipulates objects and environments. They are monumental manipulations and demand your attention the moment you see them. He installs his work in abandoned homes, school yards, and gymnasiums,using elements from the space to create his sculptures. Doing so gives the place or object a mind of its own. The walls breathe and the floor is alive.
Writer Simon Cooper wrote about the work in an essay that accompanied Rowlands’ Disintegration exhibition in 2008. Despite the time passed, I find that his analysis is still apt for the artist’s current body of work. Cooper writes:
Rowlands bases his sculptural work on things that exist at the fringes of our awareness, utilitarian objects such as lampposts or desks. He refashions them into something altogether different yet in a way that never allows their original identity to be shed. The mass produced and functional designs are softened and framed in terms of a new aesthetic, giving the object a renewed energy or sensibility. The effect is to reveal hidden potential in what had come to be regarded as outmoded. If the former object is largely unrecognizable in the new sculpture, the process is not one of violence, rather there is a sense of redemption, as if the object has been liberated from obsolescence, from forgetfulness.
Rowlands repurposing gives us the opportunity to remember the thing or place, but place it in an entirely new context. Sometimes, the way something is cut and later posed feels like a cartoon. Take, for instance, the basketball hoop that has been cut. Seeing this hoop laying on the ground, like a turtle on it’s back, is simultaneously comical and sad. We’re reminded that while it has no practical use anymore, it didn’t before it was manipulated. Rowlands has saved it from total obscurity.
Tatiana Blass built a human body that leans over the spine of a chair. She built this body out of wax and gave it a spotlight to shine; however, its glow not only illuminated, but also curdled the figure’s shape with heat. Arms broke off and bone emerged. Soon the body itself was only spine.
Spine against spine.
On another day, at another location or time, Blass built another body, a lying down one. The heat was not on the back, but instead rising from below. The body melted and there was no bone. Only a puddle of wax, something similar to where the body began.
The dissolution is the performance, the performer is the object: it moves to mirror our horror, to show its aliveness: our aliveness.
This concept of sculpture as a temporary structure feels relative to Urs Fischer’s own monolithic candlelit figures which also weaken over time. Both generate a sense of narrative that we relate to instantly– feelings of loss or devastation amidst chaos. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Wax to wax. What slips through our fingers: a certain temperature from day to day. We cannot gauge. An inevitable ritual.
The music must come to an end, and it does, especially for Blass’s other installation (video above), as Thiago Curry pounds five easy pieces on the keys, while two men pour melted paraffin into the grand piano.
In 2013, conceptual artist Lenka Clayton created the “One Brown Shoe” project, in which she instructed participants to make a single brown shoe using materials found in their homes. The participants were 100 married couples that spanned 12 countries. They were asked to not discuss the project with their partners, and to construct their shoes in secret. Once each person completed their brown shoe, they could then share it with their spouse.
The type of shoes and materials used runs the gamut. Brown shoes were made from packing tape, knitting, animal crackers, corks, teddy bears, and much more. Materials were both conventional and innovative. One artist, for instance, made a stiletto heel from a nail. Another made use of a nest and quail egg. Some people used actual shoes, which seems like cheating (it isn’t). Despite living in the same household, no couple used the exact same supplies. Size of shoe was also noticeable; Some of them were meant for giants, while other babies.
In writing about the project, Clayton muses, “…each pair of shoes might be seen as a portrait – of two individuals, of one couple, and of the difference between the two.” It shows the artistic differences between the pair, as well as their individual ingenuity and knowledge of materials.
The fact that the shoe-making was in secret was the key to making this project successful. If they hadn’t, I don’t think these shoes would be as interesting. They might look forced, like they were trying (or not trying) to replicate their partner. One Brown Shoe allowed the participants to create freely without criticism. The eventual reveal of the two shoes, which are often very different from one another, is both amusing and telling. When left to their own devices, it’s fascinating to see how two people who share a life together would create something that is so alike or so different. (Via Junk Culture)
Austrian artist, Aldo Tolino, creates sculptural objects out of printed photographs. The printed-photograph-turned-sculpture is then photographed, and the end ‘result’ is what you see here.
The folding techniques vary and so do the photographs; this is what makes the work interesting, as there are infinite number of permutations that will work for this purpose. The redundancy of the project is much like a philosophical argument, one that loops around and is at some point, unanswerable.
The fact that the folded photograph is photographed is also an interesting factor, as it creates and thought-provoking dialogue between both the precision and the inaccuracy that the medium of photography inherits through time.
Besides being an artist, Tolino is also a philosopher and he is currently working on a book project called Interferenz, which precisely deals with the themes explored here: paper, folding, image, object, sculpture, texture and recursion. (via IGNANT)
The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze touts itself as being the Tri-State’s (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut) biggest and most exciting Halloween event. Their hubris is deserved; The glowing pumpkins and the elaborate installation of carvings are incredible.
The event features more than 5,000 hand-carved, illuminated jack o’ lanterns, and is set against the backdrop of the historic,18th-century riverside landscape of the Hudson River Valley. All displays are made out of pumpkins, and arranged into the likes of giant sea monsters, dinosaurs, snakes, and shrunken “Little Monsters.” It even features a Tunnel O’ Pumpkin Love. (If you’re wondering how that works, it involves gourd-filled Jack-in-the-Boxes springing up and bouncing around.)
Pumpkin carving has a rich history in the UK. The Instagram blog describes it, writing:
Although only associated with Halloween as we know it today since the late 1800s, the tradition of gourd carving dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries in rural Ireland and England. People created jack o’lanterns for the old holidays of Samhain and All Souls’ Night when spirits were thought to be the most active. Grotesque faces carved into the objects were meant to frighten away any ghouls seeking to do harm.
Death becomes us all eventually, as we are exploring in the works covered in this two part article. In light of the Halloween season, and the historical implications of death of this season, we are highlighting artists who create work that addresses or is informed by death and dying. Part 1 included and discussed the works of Damien Hirst, Doris Salcedo, Angelo Filomeno, Konrad Smolenski and Joel Peter Witkin. Here we examine the work of Andres Serrano, Berlinde De Bruyckere, Tereza Zelenkova and Oskar Dawicki.
Andres Serrano has built a reputation creating imagery that is shocking and confronts the viewer with heavy content, unapologetically. His series on death takes this to the next level. Each image, a close-up intimate composition of the deceased subject, is titled according to the cause of death. The Death Series functions as a mirror of our own mortality, delivered rawly and beautifully in rich colors and blank stares.
The work of Berlinde De Bruyckere is rough and organic, abstractly anatomical and animalistic in delivery. The artist’s sculptural work emanates a quality that lies somewhere between a murder scene and a meat locker. De Bruyckere’s pieces have a realistic quality of flesh torn apart yet are executed with fairly common artistic materials such as wax, wood, iron, cotton and wool is captivating.
Tereza Zelenkova created a series entitled Supreme Vice during a journey through the deserts of the Southwest. Captured in the bleakest and most barren of environments, Zelenkova’s photographic works meditate on death through a poetic narrative that seems to address a spiritual continuum that overlaps life and death and creates a bridge between the two polarities. The black and white series, that spans grey areas of mortality, is bound in a book, also entitled Supreme Vice.
The obituary series by Oskar Dawicki which was first exhibited in 2004 in a show aptly titled “The end of the world by accident” is far more ironic than the previously mentioned works. The photographic works capture collages Dawicki assembled of actual obituaries he discovered in the newspaper. The names of the deceased in the images appear to be celebrities and other famous figures at first glance. The works toy with the spectrum of perception of significance in the value of human life and death.
Animal sculptures by Australian artist Natalie Ryan are inspired by taxidermy. While conventional taxidermy practices dictate that she preserve the skin/fur of the animal she is preparing, Ryan instead uses synthetic materials to cover casts of squirrels, bears, and monkeys. Her current portfolio cloaks these animals entirely in blue velvet.
While Ryan’s web presence is limited, her gallery representation, Dianne Tanzer Gallery in Melbourne writes about Ryan’s latest exhibition, Evanescere, stating:
Continuing to explore notions of the cadaver as a secondary form, a shadow of it’s living self, these works depict the internals of animals stripped of their dermis and identifying features. Evanescere looks at the body in a suspended state of disappearing. In conjunction with this, these works also explore the idea of the animal cadaver on display and museology as a resting place. These works combine bodies and elements of the landscape that reference the paradigm of Natural History Museum displays. They seek to question the role the body plays in the Museum and the loss of the individual as it becomes a subject to represent an entire species.
Ryan’s decision to color her work bright blue introduces a contemporary aesthetic to taxidermy. It references the trends of home decor over the past few years, in which loud, unnatural colors are applied to natural objects. When thinking about traditional taxidermy and how it uses real feathers and fur, the artist makes a statement about craft and preservation. The prevailing attitude of culture champions innovation and exploration of the new. Ryan is stripping this practice of its ritual, simply using foam casts and not real animals. She’s chosen a color and material that’s more en vogue. We are drawn to this work because it’s a twist on an old practice. She makes taxidermy fresh rather than just feeling old.
Kate MccGwire’s feather sculptures are awe inspiring in their detail; they are the type of thing that is marveled. Gathering, peeling, and layering are just a few ways she constructs her work. The materials, vibrant colors, and tactile quality gives them an uncanny feeling. Seeing layers of feathers, we expect a winged creature attached. Instead, MccGwire has created organic yet indistinguishable forms. Her sculptures wrap around themselves, like the ouroboros, eating their own tail. Like infinity symbols, they are never ending. These forms feel powerful, and the feathers play a large role in it. Their volume, combined with a high level of craft, make us do a double take and demand our full attention.Yes, MccGwire’s winged creatures are kept under glass so they won’t escape. But wait! They were actually real. This uncertainty is exactly what MccGwire wants. From her artist statement:
Kate MccGwire’s practice probes the beauty inherent in duality, exploring the play of opposites – at an aesthetic, intellectual and visceral level – that characterises the way we conceive the world. She does this by appealing to our essential duality as human beings, to our senses and our reason, and by drawing on materials capable of embodying a dichotomous way of seeing, feeling and thinking. The finished work has a consistent ‘otherness’ to it that places it beyond our experience of the world, poised on a threshold between the parameters that define everyday reality.
While we might try and figure out what MccGwire’s sculptures are supposed to be, that isn’t her top priority. The artist is much more interested in combining our uneasiness of the unknown with the beauty of the natural world. (Via Colossal)