The work of South African artist Mary Sibande is complex much like the identities it addresses. Sibande creates life size sculptures, primarily of black women. The sculptures are arrayed in large ornate dresses which, rather than shed light on the subject’s identity, complicate it. The dresses seem to be a perfect blend of Victorian upper class and a maid’s uniform. Sibande’s grand installations efficiently comment on gender, class, colonialism, and beauty. To further underscore these issues, Sibande arranged for huge photographic murals of the installations to be displayed throughout Johannesburg.
This last decade in art has turned out a ton of larger than life sculptural work, specifically in the realm of inflatable sculpture. As adults, we never seem to get over the pure bliss of bouncy houses from our childhood, and as art lovers we are drawn to these works, made from thin plastic that are able to tower over us once filled with air. Artists have used this medium to make shocking and conceptually multilayered statements, such as Paul McCarthy’s “Complex System,” a building-sized pile of poo that made international headlines when it deflated in Hong Kong this past spring, leaving behind quite the brown mess. Other artists have merged inflatable sculpture with architecture and infused it with an interactive element that takes the classic “bouncy house” into a sophisticated architectural wonderland, such as Alan Parkinson (also known as “Architects of Air”) has done with his Luminaria. Other artists included below are: David Byrne, Eder Castillo, FriendsWithYou, Florentijn Hoffman, Chad Person, Tam Wai Ping and Geraldo Zamproni.
This Labor Day Weekend, enjoy the following parade of images that reviews some of the most exciting and celebrated inflatable sculptures that have emerged within the past ten years.
It may be more accurate to title the post Fine Art as Lawn Chairs. These sculptures from artist Patrick McDonough only resemble the outdoor furniture. They may contain familiar hardware and components such as a hinge or stray armrest. However, they are carefully constructed sculptures. As much as they resemble outdoor furniture, McDonough also seems to be referencing abstract painting. Chair frames mirror canvas frames, and the grid patterns that usually support our weight resemble Hard-edge Painting. The one thing both lawn chairs and fine art seem to hint at is the idea of leisure and a leisure class.
The artwork Andrea Hasler if nothing else is a critique of consumerism. Her Burdens of Excess series resemble the strange blend of designer fashion and a slaughterhouse. Fleshy blobs bulge between straps and buttons nearly turning the high fashion accessories into bizarre creatures. Zippers and stitching even begin to seem like biological features. Still, our “natural” biological sides as human is a jarring contrast to ideas as contrived as fashion, luxury, even money.
The press release from her recent show at Gusford Gallery in Los Angeles states:
“Hasler’s work focuses on constructions of identity and collective desires, and is characterized by a tension between attraction and repulsion. The works in the Desire series, in particular, focus on the obsession of projections of affluence and glamor. Reworking designer bags, shoes, and accessories into organ-resemblant sculptures, Hasler’s works engage with the psychological aspects of consumerism, blurring the lines between what you are and what you must have.
Through the transformation of GUSFORD’s Melrose Avenue gallery space into an indulgent, glamorous shop, Hasler’s installation embodies the epitome of luxurious excess, and looks to a dystopic future, where branded organs may one day be the ultimate fashion accessory.”
Watch a video of her installation at Gusford Gallery as well as a short interview with the artist after the jump.
Designer Armin Blasbichler‘s work is often jarring. His series ORSON, I’m Home strikes a special chord, though. The series is composed of three “dining sculptures” created primarily from the bodies of various farm animals. While we may be more accustomed to farm animals adorning plates on the furniture, seeing them as taxidermy furniture makes for a surreal juxtaposition. The furniture confronts its users with the consumption it usually facilitates. Interestingly, for the series Blasbichler features a quote from professor and writer Don Slater: “In talking of modern society as a consumer culture, people are not referring simply to a particular pattern of needs and objects […] but to a culture of consumption.”
You could say artist Aganetha Dyck creates her sculptures as much as she fascilitates them. Dyck uses honeybees to decorate these figurines. The bees create graceful lines and countours that seem compliment the existing shapes of the figures. Their honeycomb patterns don’t seem like strange additions but rather enhancements. Dyck begins her process with figurines, often broken or damaged in some way. Then collaborating with beekeepers and scientists, bees are allowed to add their distinctive pattern to each small statue. Dyck describes her process:
“To begin a collaborative project with the honeybees, I choose a slightly broken object or damaged material from a second hand market place. I choose damaged objects because honeybees are meticulous beings, they continuously mend anything around them and they do pay attention to detail. To encourage the honeybees to communicate, I strategically add wax or honey, propolis or hand-made honeycomb patterns to the objects prior to placing them into their hives. At least I like to think my methods are strategic. The honeybees often think otherwise and respond to what is placed within their hive in ways that make my mind reel.”
Paper is a surface used by artists all the time, however we rarely see the true versatility of it as a material explored to the extent that is seen in the paper art featured here by: Ryuji Nakamura, Kyosuke Nishida and Brian Li, Jeff Nishinaka, Tomas Saraceno, Matt Shlian and Jen Stark.
Tomas Saraceno is a master of transforming a space and infusing it with an interactive surreal quality. His installations that are constructed to provide viewers with the experience that they are walking on a cloud are absolutely captivating. The soft dream-like magic of his work is more tactile and intimate, however, in this paper installation Cloud House featuring cloud like formations made only out of smaller geometric matte paper structures.
Paper art has especially blossomed in the past few years. Few, perhaps none, are more meticulously detailed and worked the sculptures of Rogan Brown. His pieces seem organic, as if grown rather than cut. Their reflection of nature if further reflected in the medium, paper not far removed from trees. He says of his sculptures:
“My work is an exploration and re-presentation of natural organic forms both mineral and vegetal. I look for patterns and repeated motifs that run through natural phenomena at different scales, from the microscopic to the macroscopic, from individual cells to large scale geological formations.” (via)