On May 12th, the Nepal earthquake striked, killing dozen and injuring thousands. With a magnitude of 7.3, the earthquake was so large that it affected those living in India and Bangladesh. Documentary photographer Probal Rashid, who currently lives in Bangladesh, documented the aftermath through his lens. These photographs tell a heartbreaking story of those directly in the middle of the chaotic and horrific outcome of such an earthquake. Rashid masterfully reveals poignant images of mothers, fathers, and children living in the current state of their homes and villages. The emotions seen in his photographs strike you to your core, as you are shown a child looking right back at you in the midst of this catastrophe.
Allowing us to see a different aspect of the lives of the people affected by the earthquake, Rashid includes images of the remnants of people’s homes and belongings, creating a more intimate connection. A haunting photograph of the inside of a house in ruins displays an empty couch and chairs, with photographs of the family up on the wall. The city’s culture as well as its people was damaged, as we see a piece of beautiful architecture now almost completely destroyed. Rashid rightly has no sensor, as his photojournalism displays an uninhibited truth. Witnessing so much destruction, Rashid also finds compassion. Although so much desolation can plainly be seen, there is also a sense of hope. The photographer also chose to capture people trying to help; citizen’s aiding one another.
As humans often identify with each other, it is always difficult to see photos with this kind of content. However, it is very necessary for us to see and understand what is happening to others in a place we may not know very much about. Probal Rashid provides us with a better grasp on how the earthquake has affected Nepal and its people in this unforgettable series.
German artist Martin Roller constructs assemblages of objects in hilarious and astonishing ways in his body of work. Taking found object from the streets of Berlin, he photographs interesting mash-ups of everyday objects and remnants of trash, transforming their original function. Setting the scene similar to commercial photography, each newly created object looks as if it is on display in an ad, waiting to be bought. Who knows, maybe Roller’s banana shoes will be the next big thing, although they are not exactly wearable. This colorful and clever series is both aesthetically appealing, with its perfect color blocking, and intriguing, as each item is not altered digitally.
At first glance, you may think that Roller’s images are digitally spliced photographs that together create the finished product. Although this would take some skill, each object is more impressively built by the artist’s own hand, and therefore, actually exists in real life. Roller explains that we live in an age where technology has given us endless possibilities that are accessible to a vast majority of people. Because these digital alterations, as well hand-cut collages, are so common today, these techniques are of no interest to him. He instead aims to assemble his own “collage” from a more realistic source, the objects themselves. Each image displays an amazing combination of real life objects, with an eye on modern design.
Menstrual Designer Jen Lewis and Photographer Rob Lewis are redefining body politics in their series Beauty in Blood. Together, they create breathtaking images with an unlikely, and, more often than not, taboo material; menstrual blood. The idea of using her own bodily fluid as a medium came to Jen Lewis after deciding to use a different kind of feminine care product; reusable collecting cup that she would use and then dump its substance into a toilet. She explains that seeing such a bright, red liquid swirl around stark, white porcelain was absolutely stunning. Believing that menstruation is a beautiful, natural part of life that is all too often avoided, the artist decided to capture it in remarkable photographs to open up a dialogue and shed some much needed light on the subject. Jen Lewis explains that this series is not meant to be shocking or vulgar, but exactly the opposite. Her and her partner Rob create each striking image through a process of design, care, and selection.
This series is a celebration of femininity, a look into a healthy part of every woman’s life that we are often taught to be ashamed or embarrassed of. This dynamic duo aims to change the social norm of menstruation being hidden or taboo in society by allowing the viewer to get up close and personal with a natural part of life, not to mention part of the cycle that creates life. Each image claims the true and honest beauty that this significant and momentous part of life deserves. The aesthetic appeal and allure this series holds breaks down the politics of women’s bodies that contemporary society tends to control. Jen Lewis elaborates on this subject. (via FeatureShoot)
“In my experience, women and men are hungry for an authentic dialogue about menstruation and all that encompasses. It is clear the time is now to stand up and speak out on behalf of menstruation. It is a natural, messy but beautiful part of life.”
No matter what the medium, artist Shanti Grumbine manipulates her work by slicing it into fractals of distorted imagery. In her series titled Looking Awry, she uses front-page images from the New York Times, and prints them in large format. She then cuts and divides the image into hundreds of smaller pieces and rearranges them before mounting the squares onto wooden dowel. Each square resembles a pixel, creating a strange mix of visual information since they are not placed in their original spot. This hodgepodge of colors and shapes are referencing a digital file that is corrupted, in which we can no longer see what is originally intended to visually display. Although altered and skewed, we can still make out some of the original image in Grumbine’s work. If you look closely, you can see a woman’s face or remnants of a human body. Grumbine explains her journey while creating her wall reliefs.
These wall reliefs become monuments to the untold levels of mediation between my creative acts and the rest of the world.
Much like digital files move across digital highways or frequencies, Grumbine’s work seems to travel across the composition in waves. As each cut out “pixel’ is mounted on a wooden dowel, the dowels are all different lengths, creating a wall relief. These varying levels, confronting the viewer, form a new textural and visual element. Further engaging the viewers are small, square mirrors that Grumbine integrates into each piece, replacing some of the “pixels.” Now, each captivating piece is not just reaching out at you in waves of visual complexities, but also include fractals of the viewer and its surroundings. You are now a part of the piece, a part of an endless source of aesthetic, digital information. A master at carving new meaning into different materials, this Brooklyn-based artist also has a series of incredibly detailed newspaper cut-outs titled Zeroing, also utilizes New York Times newspapers. New visuals are sliced into each word, and even a wall relief in the shape of an orb is formed from its text.
Brushing the edges of Pop-Surrealism, Bill Dambrova’s expressive paintings explode with color and anatomical imagery. His work is hard to ignore, as his cartoon-like style hits you in the face with exaggerated facial and bodily features. Each piece is like a louder, more graphic and fun illustration from a medical or anatomical textbook. His technique is both abstract and representational, as he paints unnaturally colored organs and molecules moving through his compositions. Pulling inspiration from physical healing and spiritual growth, Dambrova’s work explores the stories and memories held in each of our biology, exposing humankind internally. The artist’s work uncovers not only human anatomy, but the insides of animals as well, unifying our biology. Each painting beautifully shows us the commonality in the biology in living things, while still exploring the unknown. This Phoenician artist investigates themes in science, animism, and archetypes in his work.
Although Dambrova’s work holds traditional imagery, such as animals and a human heart, they are shown in a different light. In his work, bodies are split open, organs function outside the body, and rays of organic light flow through each being. Each composition Dambrova constructs is as intricate as the human anatomy itself, with each color and shape intertwined with the next. The very talented artist is one of the recipients of the Contemporary Forum award given to emerging artists in Arizona. His work can be seen on view now through May 31st at the Phoenix Art Museum.
Artist Alice Smeets re-imagines 20th century tarot cards through contemporary photography. Having always been interested in spiritual themes and fascinated by tarot cards, Smeet recreates the many different faces of tarot cards using the streets of Haiti as her subject. Her goal was not just to interpret the deck of tarot cards through her lens, but to also have them hold a deep, personal element. Cards like “Justice” and “The Hanged Man” become more intimate by collaborating with each of her subjects represented in this series.
Each Haitian shown in her Ghetto Tarot cards are actually artists themselves. Smeet, aiming to keep authenticity in her work, collaborated with an artist corporation in Haiti called Atiz Rezistans, or “resistant artists”. The photographer worked with these fellow artists to construct her tableaus to capture the captivating imagery in each card. In fact, Smeet includes the work of each “resistant artist” as props in the series. Working in partnership with these artists, she was able to form a relationship and learn what the word “ghetto” means to them. Smeet states that by titling the series Ghetto Tarot, she is giving the word new meaning, a more positive connotation. By exploring this theme of reappropriation, she discovers new ways of changing ideas and implications about certain imagery and words. Smeet explains,
“If we realize that its a choice whether we look at destruction and see despair or to regard it as the start of something new, we can change the meaning of every word, action and sentiment.”
The abstract ceramic work of Netherland-based artist Mieke de Groot is full of repetitive patterns and geometric shape. Her vessels resemble natural archetypes found in nature, such as the winding pattern on an acorn or the perfectly balanced patterns in honeycomb. These spiky exteriors are somehow still warm and inviting, so full of texture, begging to be touched. Holding a precise shape with intricate detail, Groot’s work still contains an organic quality. Each piece displays careful incisions that exhibit a skillful and complicated method. However, this intricacy and density is contained in one unified, brilliant color, mostly hues of greens and blues.
The delicate forms in her work wind and bend around, obstructing which end is which. However, not all of her ceramic pieces contain such smooth glazes as the ones shown. A different approach this multifaceted artist uses is one in which she creates a rough, cracked surface, creating a much different aesthetically versatile exterior. Groot’s style molds and transforms along with her ceramic medium. Each piece seems to grow both organically and systematically, even though they are constructed by hand. Even more impressive, Mieke de Groot also is an established painter, on top of creating remarkable ceramic vessels. The Dutch artist has artwork in collection all over the world including the National Glass Museum in the Netherlands and The Corning Museum of Glass. She is currently represented by galleries in several different countries including Holland and Germany.
Like floating into a dream, Jason Mitchell’s photography takes you into a new place of existence, stuck between worlds. His series Dream Away displays ghostly bodies in a different state of being, exploring a sense of awakening. Inspired by metamorphosis, his figures are placed in a blank space, not knowing exactly where they are except for in a place of uncertainty. Even still, they seem tranquil and ready for whatever is to come next. Each image contains an ethereal quality, as the figures delicately glide through the air. In this series, we cannot tell if Mitchell’s figures are falling or floating, as there is no sense of direction, like they are underwater. With bright whites and light shadows, the absence of almost all harsh shadows creates an angelic atmosphere around these women.
Hinting at themes of afterlife and a higher state of being, Mitchell’s figures almost do not appear to be human. They are transcending their bodies on a journey of oneself.
“I ask my subjects to explore a loss of control, but a sense that they are being guided, pushed and pulled by another sentient being, as they make their way to a new self. They represent the soul of a magical creature on a journey through the limbo that connects their past understandingto this new unknown.”
– Jason Mitchell
Although all of Mitchell’s work holds a striking beauty, his series Dream Away truly exhibits stunning detail and imagery. Photographs from this majestic series will be on view at 111 Minna Gallery in San Francisco, CA until May 30th.