A Giant Bouncy House Made Of Boobs And A Phallic Rock Wall Take Over NYC

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This unusual carnival certainly isn’t the kind you find at a kid’s party. For “Funland: Pleasures & Perils of the Erotic Fairground,” artistic duo Bompas & Parr show off a series of bold and whimsical installations at New York City’s Museum of Sex. Immersive artworks include “Jump for Joy,” a giant bouncy house composed of blow-up breasts and “Grope Mountain,” a rock wall featuring phalluses and vulvas. As visitors munch on tasty treats, they are invited into “The Tunnel of Love,” a maze that ultimately ends at the G-Spot, an erogenous zone in the vaginal canal discovered by Ernst Gräfenberg.

While this all may seem like fun and games, the exhibition also illustrates earnest cultural ideas. Here, the artists worked closely with Professor Vanessa Toulmin, the Director if the UK National Fairground Archive, to illustrate the historical associations between traveling fairgrounds and sexuality. Toulmin proposes that at the apex of the industrial revolution of the mid-19th century, carnivals began to emerge as sites for “immoral” behavior.

The St. Bartholomew fair, she notes, was singled out for its sensuous—and overtly erotic— atmosphere. In this uncanny universe of play and mischief, the puritan ideals of the upper classes were tossed to the wayside. The fast-paced amusement rides were quite the novelty at that time, and dark tunnels and cars allowed for discreet caresses to pass between lovers. Some fairgrounds even charged admittance for burlesque and strip-tease shows. Bompas & Parr’s “Funland” certainly captures both the thrilling and the farcical aspects of the carnival scene. Simultaneously amusing and disturbing, the exhibit engages both the mind and the body. The show is currently on view and will run through Spring 2015. (via Design Boom) Read More >

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Heather Cassils And Three Other Artists Present Alternative Narratives Of Female Sexuality And Identity

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In the digital age and generation of the selfie, a spiraling and often disorienting importance placed on consumerism and commodities permeates even the most remote of regions. Through the billboard jungles and beehive of mass media, images relentlessly promoting youth and sexuality haphazardly depict ideals of femininity. Creating a wormhole of inadequacies, the female form has found itself in a constant tug-of-war in either defending its natural state or scrambling to correct propagated notions of aesthetic shortcomings. As Barbara Kruger famously stated on one of her notorious gelatin silver prints from the 1980’s, “You Are Not Yourself”.

The following artists featured turn these preconceived notions on their head while reconstructing a refreshing narrative of female sexuality and identity. Featured artists include  Laura Aguilar, Aimee Hertog, Heather Cassils, and Marina Santana.

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Karl Lagerfeld Builds A Life-Size Chocolate Statue Of Model

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In what is perhaps his most extravagant creation to date, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has created a life-size chocolate sculpture of his top model and muse Baptise Giabiconi. The male face of Chanel, who travels most everywhere with Lagerfeld, is shown here as a solid mound of rich dessert, reclining on a bed inside a hotel room made entirely out of chocolate. The piece was presented in Paris in 2011 as part of a promotion for ice cream brand Magnum, for whom the designer directed a commercial staring Giabiconi and Rachel Bilson. The strange yet endearing sculpture holds a Magnum ice cream cone in his hand, which luxuriates suggestively over his thigh and a pair of tiny tighty-whitey briefs.

Lagerfeld, who has ignited anger and criticism over the past few years for his arguably classist sentiments, certainly does not spare any expense in this sweet and decadent installation. In some ways, the piece is an ironic epitome of a consumerist fashion industry. Laid on this pristine white bed, the chocolate man stands in for everything our culture devours: expensive food, lavish furnishings, and even sexual gratification. Do we consume fashion models in the same way in which we devour ice cream? As far as artwork goes, this is about as shamelessly commercial as you can get, and yet it maintains an undeniable charm in its blatant self-awareness. Lagerfeld’s statue is both hilarious and compelling, standing at the intersection of capitalism and sexuality. Take a look, and for more chocolate artwork, check out Anya Gallaccio’s dark chocolate-covered room here. (via Gawker, NY Mag, and Telegraph)
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Grotesque Photos Capture The Pains And Joys Of Womanhood

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In her visceral, raw still lifes, the 21-year-old photographer Madison Carroll captures the grotesque remains of meaningful moments gone by. Used condoms, pregnancy tests, and blood stains grace her compositions, punctuating a narrative that skips dizzyingly from girlhood to womanhood, from innocence to experience. As if plucked from last night’s waste basket, these soiled items emerge; in the context of Carroll’s clean, immaculate technique, they become all the more haunting.

As if part of some unusual crime scene, waste products are left out, forensically archived by Carroll’s lens. Here, rotting fruit and old bandaids mark not a murder but the more gradual, subtle trauma of growing up, of being woman. Like a pool of blood, tea spills from a delicate, shattered china cup; a lemon, once fresh and aromatic, rots. An egg cracks, the yoke spilling out into a satin pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear like a giant, monstrous ovum released during menstruation.

In Carroll’s disturbing yet thrilling realm, the dangers and joys of femaleness collide in a moment of brutal self-reflection. Death and fertility become indistinguishable. In a frilly, feminine doily, a cockroach lies dead, rotting beside a snuffed-out cigarette. A Clear Blue pregnancy test sits on an old rust-stained rag, the urine and tissue in the toilet simply a blurred afterthought.

Like a hoarder of significant items, Carroll’s lens seeks out that which might be thrown away, forgotten by time. A male lover, sprawled on the bed, is captured asleep, in a state of heightened vulnerability, his pale nakedness pressing against the border of the frame. At the artist’s feet, a condom evidences the intimacy that occurred minutes or hours before. (via Feature Shoot and iGNANT)
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Yung Cheng Lin’s Disturbing Photographs Capture An Erotic Drama

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The Taiwanese photographer Yung Cheng Lin presents the female body in unusual, erotic and sometimes absurd ways; his surreal, staged images capture a raw sensuality that oscillates between the fantastic and the grotesque. Here, women are seen initially as objects of desire, but they contort their bodies in ways that defy objectification and veer into abstraction.

Lin’s images, wrought with sexual tension, are at times uncomfortable to look at; a girl grips a box of milk, and its liquid ejaculates on and into her ear. Another woman holds a ripened, banana, which we might assume to be symbolic of the phallus, between her thighs; a finger penetrates and abstracted mound of flesh. A replica of the Mona Lisa sits between a woman’s legs, the part of hair mimicking a vulvar shape. The viewer, often seeing these female subjects from above, feel like strange voyeurs, peering into intimate rituals undetected.

Amidst Lin’s exploration of sexuality is a growing sense of anxiety that may be read perhaps a fear of female sexual power. A rose intimately penetrates a woman’s throat, and her head falls back and out of the frame as if in pleasure. But this symbolic intercourse is foreboding, dangerous: the flower is dead, wilted, and blood trickles down the model’s neck. Dead bugs infest the sets, sitting atop bananas and dangling from blood-red threads, signifying impending decay. Like drone bees who flock to mate with their queen only to die after the moment of fertilization, the insects fall at the feet of women. Take a look. (via Lost at E Minor and White Zine)
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Ingrid Berthon Moine Photographs The Testicles Of Ancient Greek Statues

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The photographer Ingrid Berthon Moine is taken with testicles, both figuratively and physiologically; turning to the anatomically accurate statues of Classical Greece for her project Marbles, she focuses her lens on representations of the male sex organ. Isolated from the rest of the statues, the male sex organs take on new meanings, their textured curves wrought in stone with masterly precision.

The careful renderings of the genitalia reveal tender folds of skin; set against the aged and worn marble, the apparent softness is complicated by durability. Testicles, as a cultural symbol, retain these nuances; they are simultaneously representative of sexual vigor and unfaltering power, but they are also framed as a physical weakness, an immensely vulnerable organ. As Berthon Moine explains, the word itself gave rise to aggressive, powerful words like “detest, protest, or contest or […] testify.” But the artist was also inspired by the theory of the neuroscientist John Coates, who posited that the testosterone hormone played a role in the financial recession; these marble testicles hope to express both the powers and dangers that we assign to them.

In a world where artworks depicting naked women outnumber works by women artists in our most renowned art museums, Berthon Moine’s work serves to turn the male gaze in on itself. She explains that until recently, only women were made to feel aware of being watched, judged by their sexual allure. She sees this dynamic shifting to expose both genders to the gaze of others, and this series, uncomfortable to some and amusing to others, is a part of that transition. (via Hyperallergic)
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Alexander Paulus’ Grotesque Paintings Are Straight Out Of A Child’s Nightmare

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The painter Alexander Paulus works in the grotesque, visualizing the ecstatic realm of human excess; in his disturbing images, desires of the flesh are celebrated as both revolting and magnetic. In the Primitivist style of Paul Gauguin and Paul Klee, the artist weaves viscerally-charged narratives that center around the erotic self. Through Paulus’s masterly, globular brushstrokes, the human body becomes a site of lust, gluttony, and a disgusting brand of pride.

Here, the allure and seductive powers of the flesh veer into excess and are thusly robbed of their beauty; a painting titled Blond haired blue eyed beauty imagines the female embodiment of Western beauty ideals as a rounded, egg-shaped monster, her ravenous, gummy open mouth revealing gnawing teeth. Similarly, in a piece titled Bette Davis eyes, the artist reinterprets the famed Kim Carnes song; in his rendition, the teasing seductress has an absurd about of tiny, beady eyes, and she takes the form of Queen Elizabeth I, a historical figure renowned for her spurning of male suiters.

Within Paulus’s intentionally crudely-rendered paintings lies a harsh indictment of modern culture. The works, dripping with satire, lay bare society’s worshipful treatment of sexual satisfaction; Crowing glory hole shows a roughly drawn anus adorned with a primitive crown, and Mount blue balls elevates thirsty and desirous phallus and testicles, complete with an ironic smiley face, to awesome level of the tallest natural peak. In Just the tip, thick, messy brushstrokes are also equated with the phallus and sexual desire left unquenched. In Paulus’s expertly seen world, the beautiful is merely an illusion, masking our basest desires. Take a look.
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Joel-Peter Witkin’s Grotesque Yet Beautiful Photographs Capture Private Erotic Longings

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The legendary photographer Joel-Peter Witkin, previously featured here and now on view at LA’s Jack Ruthberg Gallery, weaves strange erotic narratives through his staged images, some of which take weeks to complete. His body of work reads like a love poem to the grotesque, transforming what society deems taboo into miraculously beautiful scenes.

Witkin’s images avoid judging the body, opting instead to reveal mankind’s universal but most private erotic yearnings and fears. In his reinterpretation of Canova’s famously sensual yet demurely reclining Venus, for example, naked male genitalia slip from cover as if by accident, the organ poignantly vulnerable, delicate, and human, seemingly caught between erection and flaccidity.

Sexual hunger again becomes the subject of another image that seems to deconstruct Romantic paintings like Theodore Gericault’s The Raft of The Medusa, famed for its haunting depiction of dead, drowning flesh. Here, a suspenseful, tragic rescue effort is transformed into a sort of desperate orgie on the verge of climax; a pair of heaving breasts is grabbed like melons.

The erotic, though filled with the dangers of physical and spiritual nakedness, is often elevated to the divine. A shirtless woman, her breasts bared, inserts her finger into a book much like the Virgin Mary in Renaissance paintings of the Annunciation. In these photographs, nuns pose alongside nudes, and horns (symbolic of lust) are merged with crowns of thorns (symbolic of Christ)

The gorgeous set of images challenge societal ideas of social acceptability, implying that the most exquisite beauty is often found in our most frightfully private moments of lust and longing. Within all of us, lies erotic impulses that can manifest in magical and dangerous ways. Be sure to check out Witkin’s work at Jack Ruthberg Gallery, where he will exhibit alongside his long-estranged brother, the legendary painter Jerome Witkin. (via Lenscratch and Etherton Gallery)
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