Andi Schreiber Documents Middle-Age And The Need To Be Desired

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Andi Schreiber refuses to disappear. In her ongoing series, “Pretty Please”, she documents life as an aging suburban mom in a youth-obsessed culture. “Middle-aged mom” must be one of the least sexy descriptors around, redolent of yoga pants and stretch marks and sun-damaged skin. Yet as the years have passed, Schreiber has continued to feel young and sexual, even as she’s felt that society has closed those roles to her. She says:

“When I was in my thirties I heard the expression “Invisible Forties.” I couldn’t imagine how sexually inconsequential I’d feel throughout this decade.”

The powerful documentary style photos in “Pretty, Please” beg you to look. Honest and vibrant, they are not always comfortable. Victoria’s Secret has trained us to expect sexy lingerie on a young, taut body, not on folded and stretched skin. And yet, why isn’t this just as beautiful? Grow old or die, those are the only options. Why can’t we appreciate the child-scarred body of a woman who wants to be seen?

Self-portraits are interspersed with images from Schreiber’s life. A drop of blood on the toilet seat symbolizes her ebbing fertility; the lit interior of her closet holds neatly hung clothes and shelves of shoes, but also, stashed up and away, naked kewpie dolls, whimsical and eerie.

“You get into your 40s and things are very different, your perspective changes, and the way the world looks at you changes as well.”

In “Pretty, Please” we’re looking at Andi Schreiber and she’s looking back. This is definitively her — her life, her body, her blood — and yet this desire to be seen, to be valued on her own terms, could also represent the scores of middle-aged women who chose family and stability and have had their sense of self sacrificed to their suburban houses, and diapers, and carpools.

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Mystic Illustrations: Nicomi Nix Turner and Four Other Artists Illustrate The Occult

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Playing on the enticement of the black mirror, or, the darker recesses of our own perceived realities, fascinations revolving around the occult has infiltrated and renegotiated the perceivable world as we know it to be. Contemporary examinations of the occult and mysticism has surged in creating a more modern vernacular of symbology rooted in spiritualism, skewing the tangible under the scope of what is sensed and experienced as opposed to what is seen. Confronting the enigma of the unknown, investigations of the preternatural have transformed the material world through its semi-erotic explorations of the unconscious and the supposed spirit world. Evoking a sense of histories long since passed, fascinations with the paranormal are found not only within its connotations with Surrealism and Dada, but has since found itself increasingly commercialized through a dilution into popular culture.

The following artists present an elusive understanding and reflection on mysticism and the occult. Straying from any form of irony, kitsch or inapt nostalgia, their employment of the occult acts instead as a new means of dialogue and spiritual resolve.

Featured artists include Nicomi Nix Turner, Daniel Martin Diaz, Jas Helena, Amy Earles, and William Crisafi.

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Carla Richmond’s Poignant Photographs Of Women Wearing Ex-Lovers’ T-Shirts

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When all else is gone, it is often the things we most take for granted that endure, like an old, torn t-shirt. For her collaboration with writer and actress Hanne Steen, photographer Carla Richmond collects intimate portraits of the brokenhearted, women wearing shirts left behind by ex-lovers. Hanging loosely about the contours of bodies they do not quite fit, the shirts and their wearers remain anonymous, their words recorded only in unending, stream-of-consciousness style poetry.

Alone in Richmond’s tight frame, against a simple and unembellished background, the women clutch at the forgotten fabric, hugging themselves and bracing against the intrusions of memories. The irresistible poignancy of the work lies in the inextricable nature of the banal or incidental with the profound and monumental. The shirts’ unexplained tears, accidental stains left by the passage of time, and obscure graphic lettering collide with mournful faces, eyes both resolute and pleading. These t-shirts, gifted by accident or on purpose, serve as the painfully insufficient evidence of great loves, irretrievable losses, and things unsaid.

At times, the shirts themselves become integrated into the very fabric of their wearer’s being. A woman wears a grey-blue shirt and dusts her eyelids with shadow of the same hue; similarly, a scarf or ring might match the color of a now-faded garment. As the only tangible remnants of something that exists no longer, the shirts become reminders of something in danger of being forgotten, a soft comfort that may be turned to in quiet, private moments. (via Feature Shoot)

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

Heather Cassils

Heather Cassils

Laura Aguilar

Laura Aguilar

Aimee Hertog

Aimee Hertog

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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Woman’s Face Photoshopped In 27 Countries To Compare Beauty Standards In Different Parts Of The World

Left: Original portait; Right: Morocco

Left: Original portait; Right: Morocco

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We’ve all seen the “Before and After Photoshop” versions of photographs, displaying the ways in which various media distort our perception of ideal beauty. But what would these images look like in other countries? With her series Before & After, Esther Honig, a radio journalist based out of Kansas City, asked just that. With the help of Fiverr, a website for freelancers, she got in touch with artists from forty different countries; emailing each a self-portrait, she wrote, “Hi, my name is Esther Honig. Make me look beautiful.” When they did not understand the assignment, she simply told them to make her look like the most popular fashion models.

When artists from twenty-seven countries replied, she was astonished with the results. Some edits were so dramatic that she yelped aloud; others, like the image from Morocco, in which she was given a hijab, stole her breath. Some cultures favor a bare face where others apply makeup. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the work is the overwhelming presence of Western feminine ideals: pale white skin, pink cheeks, a dainty nose, and wide eyes contoured with trimmed brows.

In the end, the series expresses the extend to which often oppressive beauty ideals are meaningless; where a woman is declared beautiful in one culture, she might be plain in another. Yet for all women, regardless of ethnicity and background, the pressure to be beautiful remains, propagated by the whims of the contemporary media. Writes Honig, “Photoshop allows us to achieve our unobtainable standards of beauty, but when we compare those standards on a global scale, achieving the ideal remains all the more illusive.” (via Buzzfeed)

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Mind-Blowing Body Painting Glows Under Black Light

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Fueled by his reverence for the natural world, the Northern Utah-based artist and photographer John Poppleton paints fluorescent landscapes onto the backs of nude bodies with temporary pigments. Photographing his models under backlight, he constructs starry nighttime constellations that conform to the curves of the female silhouette. As a commercial photographer with a passion for fantasy, Poppleton incorporates his masterful painting in this “Black Light Bodyscapes” series. Each piece takes a few hours to complete, and many of them are personalized or custom-made for his subject; one painting includes a teepee to honor its model’s Native American heritage, and the mountainscapes that are visible from Poppleton’s own window make numerous appearances.

Poppleton’s mesmerizing work is both current and timeless. While echoing the electrifying aesthetic of techno raves and the like, it also maintains ancient themes. Like mythologies surrounding the figure of the Mother Earth, the “Black Light Bodyscapes” tie the female to the natural world. In a manner reminiscent of the story of the ancient Greek goddess Gaia, the planet seems to spring forth from a fertile well of female power. Here, as with folklore surrounding the deities of Greece, Europe, Asia, and Africa, the silhouetted woman becomes equated with the moon and the lunar calendar; in darkness, she lights the way, delighting the eye with an irresistible shine. Dotted with radiant celestial bodies, backlight painting may be seen as a sort of divination, reminding us of the splendor of nature that we too often forget in this modern age. Take a look. (via My Modern Met)

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Eddy Stevens’ Magical Paintings Capture The Bond Between Woman And Horse

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In his soulful, surreal paintings, Eddy Stevens imagines a world dominated by intuition and emotion, abandoning the mundane for an ethereal landscape dominated by female sensual power. In his wondrous vision, the woman, a heroine modeled after his wife Sophie, sheds her clothes, forging a primal connection with the natural world. The horse, in his majestic equine glory, mirrors the innocent nakedness of the woman, his massive muscles rippling parallel to her bosom.

In Stevens’s evocative images, raw, exposed sexuality is a source of spiritual strength rather than shame, fueling miracles like levitation and mysterious candle lights. Here, the domestic space of the house cannot contain the divinity of woman, and its walls crumble at her feet; she, like the horse, is free to roam infinite wildness.

Stevens’s cornerstone motifs, the nude female and the white horse, are reminiscent of the work of surrealist master Salvador Dalí, whose 1946 painting The Temptation of Saint Anthony also imagined the gift of levitation. But Stevens’s impressive body of work differs in its treatment of the nude and the equine creature; where Dalí presents them as perverse and frightful temptations, both symbols of the desires of the flesh, Stevens depicts them tenderly, as embodiments of purity and strength. This vision is perhaps most fully realized in “Birth of a Dream,” a painting depicting a trinity of nudes following a horse as he ascends into the clouds above. In a stunning reversal of Dalí’s imagery, the parade is shown from the back; instead of falling to earth, they climb to the holy heavens. Take a look. (via HiFructose)

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Shocking Photos Capture The Last Remnants Of China’s Painful Foot Binding Tradition

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Her toes were broken when she was a kid, then constantly bound to make them smaller until she couldn’t walk straight anymore. At the age of 88, Zhang Yun Ying is among the last witnesses of China’s infamous tradition of foot binding.

It has been recently brought to attention by a British photographer Jo Farrell who is already known for documenting endangered traditions and cultures. Her ongoing project “Living History” captures the lives of some of the last remaining women in China with bound feet. According to Farrell, in the past year alone, three women she’s been documenting have passed away so she feels it is “imperative to focus on recording their lives before it is too late”.

Tiny feet (with the ideal being no bigger than 3 to 4 inches) were once considered to be the symbol of beauty and social status. Young women would crush and bind their feet hoping to marry into money. Concealing the bound foot from men’s eyes also instigated an erotic approach towards it. Even though the inhumane custom was banned in 1912 by Chinese government, it was still practiced behind closed doors.

Apart from showcasing the shocking photos to the public, Farrell wants to make a point that modern women are not so different from the elders she works with:

“In every culture there are forms of body modification that adhere to that cultures’ perception of beauty. From Botox, FGM, breast augmentation, scarring and tattooing, to rib removals, toe tucks and labrets.”

The project was successfully funded on Kickstarter and will hopefully develop into a full documentary. (via The Huffington Post)

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