Photographer Edo Bertoglio was a pioneer of his time. He became involved in the scene in downtown New York in the 80s during a time of energy, creativity and luxury, and captured intimate moments of celebrities, art stars and night owls involved in that scene. His new book New York Polaroids 1976-1989 is a collection of those times and showcases a candid side to many people not rarely seen, and used the Polaroid camera in a way not commonly used. Bertoglio frequented clubs like CBGB and Studio 54, and snapped images of Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Grace Jones, Debbie Harry and Madonna. In fact, one image that Bertoglio had taken of Madonna was meant to be the cover for her Like A Virgin record, until the producers had a change of heart at the last moment.
He used the Polaroid SX70 because it was a portable, durable, instant camera, and meant that Bertoglio could easily travel at his will – from vacations to Greece or Porto Rico, to spontaneous motorcycle trips to Staten Island – and take photos easily. The native Swiss photographer has exploited the characteristics of the polaroid camera and used them as stylistic nuances. Blurs, light flares, and unexpected color spots become a feature of his work.
He infuses many of his polaroids with a distinctive pop quality, hyper-real, pre-digital, playing with an unmistakable intertwining of silhouettes and intense, lively, counterposed tones, faded mono- chrome atmospheres, clear-cut juxtapositions of subjects, forms and colors, close-ups and backgrounds. He has synthesized the narcissistic and decadent hue of his time.
His book is available to purchase here at Yard Press.
The German graffiti crew have covered Palmitas, a Mexican city with swirls of rainbow colors in a giant mural, hoping to change some of the damaging behavior and negative attitudes there. The community-focused team took to the hillside village and splashed neon bright paint all over the sides of houses, garden walls, fences, window frames and roofs.
Covering more than 209 houses, the super sized mural is dramatic, eye catching and apparently achieving quite dramatic results within Palmitas. Together, the graffiti group (called Germen Crew) and the Mexican government hoped the mural would be a step toward rehabilitation of the Mexican town. Known for drug-related problems, the community is quietly changing it’s focus. The power of color is working.
The mural directly affects around 500 families and apparently is eliminating youth violence and street crimes. The power of the mural is not overlooked and goes to prove that the graffiti crew really does focus their artistic skill on the community. Seeming like such a simple project, the psychedelic rainbow mural has definitely changed the character of the town, and no doubt the characters of the inhabitants. Such a great example of artist organizations and government working together to benefit the locals. (Via Bored Panda)
Throwing abuse at people is easy. Getting paid to do it is another matter. London based illustrator Mr Bingo does it with ease, and loves taking money for his efforts. The prankster receives offensive sayings from visitors on his twitter page, draws pictures to accompany the words, and sends the composited postcard to the chosen (willing, or unsuspecting) victims. For 50 quid, plus postage, you can receive a customized card that tells you exactly how crap you are. Quite surprisingly, the abusive service he offers has proven to be quite popular. Mr Bingo explains how it all began:
It all started one night in my studio in 2011 when I’d had a few drinks. I went on Twitter and said I will send a postcard with an offensive message to the first person who replies to this. (Source)
After receiving over 50 replies in a matter of minutes, he sent the postcard to ‘winner’ to Jonathan Hopkins from Forest Hill in London, stating that Mr Hopkins had shit legs. “Fuck you, Jonathan, fuck you and fuck your shit legs” the card read. Even though he was saying something that would be offensive, even repulsive to some, Mr Bingo’s card went down a treat and kickstarted a niche market for cards that knocked the receiver’s self confidence.
Essentially, what I was doing was enabling strangers to pay me to tell them to fuck off. All this is comedy. It’s clear that the hate mail is a joke and that I’m only sending it to people who want it. (Source)
Mr Bingo himself receives a lot of hate mail, but takes it all on the chin, as he expects his clients to do. He is the type of person that considers swearing funny, and in fact necessary, but refuses to poke fun at homophobia, racism, religion or disability. The cheeky illustrator has also launched a (successful) kickstarter campaign to fund a printed collection of his postcards. You can see that project here. (Via Juxtapoz)
Architecture duo known as Gijs Van Vaerenbergh have installed 186 tons of 5mm thick steel walls in Genk, Belgium, creating a dense labyrinth for visitors to navigate their way through. The dense maze is made from walls 5 meters high and creates an impressive structure of many corridors and industrial looking alleyways. The pathways and shapes of the labyrinth aren’t only rectangular, or flat either. The pair have cut out cylindrical and spherical shapes and voids in the maze, allowing for some very strange view points. The pair describe their project a bit more:
A series of Boolean transformations create spaces and perspectives that reinterpret the traditional Labyrinth is a sculptural installation that focuses on the experience of space. These Boolean transformations convert the walk through the labyrinth into a sequence of spatial and sculptural experiences. At the same time, the cutouts function as ‘frames’ to the labyrinth. Seen from some certain perspectives, the cut-outs are fragmentary, whereas from other viewpoints the entire cut-out shape is unveiled. (Source)
The pair are known for their ambitious, eye catching public installations and like to create architecture that reacts to or compliments the environment it is placed in. The particular installation is part of the 10th anniversary celebrations at the c-mine Arts Center which now stands where a coal mine once did. Gijs Van Vaerenbergh have taken ideas of the mine shafts below the surface and transferred them into their ideas for the labyrinth. They go on to say:
Furthermore, the production and construction processes remain visible in the final design. Visitors who ascend the mine shafts nearby, can view the labyrinth as a materialised floor plan and sculptural whole – a perspective that runs against what a labyrinth should do: conceal itself. (Source)
Artist Steven Spazuk really is a master of smoke and mirrors. Well, definitely of smoke. He literally makes his unique images from the burning grey stuff. Using an open flame candle, Spazuk places paper above the heat, collecting deposits of carbon and leaving marks of smoke on his canvas. He then uses feathers, brushes and scraping tools to build his incredibly detailed images of gas masks, dying birds, weapons and soldiers.
His new series of work has just opened at Reed Projects Gallery in Stavanger, Norway (runs until Aug 23rd) Called Smoking Gun and Feathers, the exhibition is a haunting collection of warning images. They are a glimpse into our possible future if we keep abusing the world we inhabit.
Spazuk exposes our collective and institutionalized hubris: the arrogance and entitlement that leads to overconfidence, abuse of power and a distorted vision of success. The plight of birds is contextualized in harsh, yet stunning image compositions, symbolizes the vulnerability of all species in the face of such human egotism. His current work provokes a reflection on the drastic and global impact of our lifestyle on the Earth’s ecosystems. (Source)
We have also previously featured Spazuk’s work here on Beautiful/Decay, so even if you can’t make it to the exhibition, be sure to check out the back catalog of his amazing work.
At the best of times, embroidery can be impressive and time consuming, but this project shows us just how much of an art form it can be. Flickr user NanaAkua has been uploading pictures of her grandmother’s embroidered balls for a while now, educating us all about an ancient art form popular in Japan. Called Temari balls, they are folk art that originated in China, but were quickly adopted by Japan. And this very talented Japanese grandmother in particular has been embroidering Temari balls for over 30 years – building a collection of over 500 balls. Made from the threads from old kimono, the Temari balls are intricate, full of imaginative patterns and as diverse as they are colorful.
They are traditionally cherished as objects of friendship and loyalty. The bright colors symbolize luck and happiness for the recipient of the gift. And it isn’t only considered an honor to receive a Temari ball, but also to produce them. To qualify as a Temari ball artist, the individual has to display a high level of skill and technique.
Here’s a little bit of more information on the amazing art form that are Temari balls:
Traditionally, temari were often given to children from their parents on New Year’s Day. Inside the tightly wrapped layers of each ball, the mother would have placed a small piece of paper with a goodwill wish for her child. The child would never be told what wish his or her mother had made while making the ball. (Source)
The dark paintings of Martin Wittfooth depict a frightening dystopia that could be our reality if we are not careful. The world he shows us is a grim and desolate one, void of humans, but full of casualties that our species could easily cause. We see a world of animals suffering from our actions and learning to adapt to their new environment for survival. His paintings are a stark reminder of what could happen if we aren’t aware of, and don’t cease the damage we are causing.
Wolves creep around in a burning wasteland, probably looking for food to eat, or some substance somewhere. Bears tip over old water jugs, or some sort of relic from a time past. Tigers are sprawled out over the hood of a rusty car, surrounded by flowers sprouting out of the trunk. The beak of an albatross is stuffed full of trash, the bird unaware that his chosen items are harmful, and not healthy. The sight of these animals that we (should) cherish trying to survive in an undesirable place should bring out the emotions in us that Wittfooth wants.
Everywhere and at all times, we’ve been busy making things in our present for the simple purpose of communicating something, and thus sending messages into our future. What a peculiar habit. We’re the only species inhabiting this planet that routinely behaves this way, and there’s something really beautiful and profound about that. (Source)
His paintings full of the consequences of climate change, over use, excess pollution and unnecessary producing and consumption may seem dramatic, but are actually just a glimpse into a future that could happen, sooner than we think. Wittfooth paints with a sense of urgency; with a need to tell people things could be getting quite bad, quite quickly. He goes on:
I often think about what the psychedelic thinker Terence McKenna called “The Archaic Revival”: a yearning to look into the past to see meaning, connection, the sacred, looking back at us. I need those reminders sometimes, when the current state of human affairs seems dire and in need of a new perspective. (Source)
French artist Frédéric Fontenoy is enamored with the human form. In his striking photography, he explores different representations of the body and eroticses, or ostracizes it’s different parts. In his new series Metamorphosis, he manipulates his photographic medium and produces images of bodies that are stretched, extended and disfigured. His snaps look like they are of weird aliens passing through earthly landscapes.
Being raised surrounded by artistic and political family members, Fontenoy quickly identified with a particular artist that he felt embodied his own ideals. Hans Bellmer’s The Anatomy of the Image, continues to be a major inspiration for the artist. Here he reflects on his own practice:
I always created erotic work, since I started taking pictures: first more intimate, then evolving into a more conceptual work, a photographic fiction, referring to our collective unconscious. The mindset of my photography is erotic, but a photo itself doesn’t have to arouse lust. (Source)
Throughout his 20-something year career of taking photos, Fontenoy not only works with different narratives that are connected to the body, he also includes himself in the situation and reflects on his own involvement as a fellow person. He sees the relevance of having himself somehow reflected in his images:
[The] crucial point of these “scenes of the darkroom”: the photographer is also in the frame, the main male character. Grand officer of these stagings, this double devilishly imaginative and wicked madness seems to make its most ambitious expression, which is Art. (Source)