KOFTA is the brain child of Kiev based designer Konstantin Kofta. In his collections Hug, Born, Roots, he experiments with leather manipulation to produce surrealistic and elegant garments, accessories and wearable items. His pieces imitate body parts and look like they are extensions of the person wearing them. Including backpacks that mimic torsos, bags with raised vertebrae, straps with hands attached ‘holding’ onto the wearer’s shoulders, and shoes that look like feet, Kofta’s designs are delicately gothic. He describes his inspiration for the Hug collection further:
From birth, we try to stand up and take our first steps. We yearn to touch and be touched and to feel sensations for the first time. We can perceive objects with an unclogged consciousness. Pure perception without comparison. We know nothing other than that which we can see and feel… Spirit does not have form, but some forms can have spirit, vibration does not have a color but color can have vibration, mood does not have a texture, but textures can have a mood. In this collection we focus for the first time more on feelings than just on physical forms and we have created forms, colors and textures according to these sensations… (Source)
Designing with a emphasis on sensuality, Kofta loves to tease out an emotional response to his designs. He combines the unintentional and unexpected to produce durable, unique and wearable pieces of art. Kofta designs with the intention of adding unusual components to a person’s lifestyle, not just their wardrobe, and I would say his pieces achieve a lot more than that.
When Elana Pritchard was sent to the women’s division of the Los Angeles County jail for two months in July 2014, she decided to document her experience using only the paper available to her and a golf pencil. She witnessed strange, horrific, even threatening situations, but was able to turn the time into something productive and enlightening for her readers. Even right from the first moment on the bus from the court hearing to the jail, she observed some unbelievable things.
I saw some ugly things on that bus: prostitution, nudity, profanity. A group of male prisoners ganged up on me and thought they could pressure me to show them my breasts — in exchange for crystal meth. I tried telling them to mind their manners, but it didn’t work. I just had to sit there and wait for it to be over. Even though they were all in handcuffs and blocked off by a barrier, they still succeeded in making me feel uncomfortable. I’m not sure if the guards knew what went on in the back of the bus, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t care. (Source)
Subjected to a squat and cough every time upon re-entering the jail, along with 40 other people in the room, Pritchard fast learned to forget about any sort of dignity. Humiliation and verbal abuse were everyday occurrences for the inmates. Hygiene standards were questionable, and the ladies were supplied with used underwear to put on each week.
Every jail has it’s myths and legends, and Pritchard does a good job of accurately confirming or dismissing even the most outrageous ones. Read more about her experience and see more drawings here. (Via LA Weekly)
Elizabeth Tolson‘s range of interactive, light up futuristic styled dresses are a light-hearted look at quite serious topics. Called Vessel, the concept centers around two garments – the Fertility Dress and the Chastity Dress. Combining cutting edge technology, soft circuity, connective threads, connective garments, simple switches and plain white cotton, Tolson has created two innovative wearable art pieces that are dealing with feminist issues.
The Fertility Dress works in cohesion with the female body. It contains lights that change color depending on the woman’s menstruation cycle and fertility. The lights turn blue to indicate ovulation, red for menstruation, and glow white to indicate excellent hygiene, and finally, turn yellow to denote poor hygiene levels. This dress is meant to not only display internal bodily states, but also to remind us that woman are fertile beings, all day, everyday.
The Chastity Dress is a combination of lights and sounds, triggered by sensors that go off if certain parts of the garment are touched. Tolson explains more:
So the final result of the Chastity dress had sensors so when the girl in it was touched inappropriately, sensors went off to remind her of how she should behave. It was creating an audience for the girl as an object because she needs to watched over. It was a way for people to be aware of her actions, but she also needs to be aware. I also created a bra that has sensors so if you push her chest it creates a high-pitched noise. (Source)
Inspired by strange dating books she was sent from her mother, Tolson wanted to draw attention to some outdated attitudes that still exist about female sexuality. With a playful , tongue-in-cheek mentality, Tolson manages to raise awareness about gender politics, marriage equality, abortion laws, birth control and a whole plethora of topics most people love to avoid. Read more about her work here. (Via Design Faves)
German sculptor Stephan Balkenhol‘s carved, expressionless wooden figures and reliefs have many critics wondering just what they are about. Balkenhol sculpts stoic characters standing on top of plinths with minimal detailing, wearing basic, unfussy clothes and who are often staring off in space. His figures are everyday people, caught in a disengaged daydream. Working in African Wawa, Oak, or Lebanese Cedar wood, Balkenhol uses a hammer and chisel to reveal the figure, choosing to leave bits of shavings, knots, grains and cracks visible in the finished piece. The rough hewed sculptures are then painted over in bright block acrylic color, emphasizing the plainness of their shape. Balkenhol manages to remove all personality and emotion from his figures, effectively turning them into a blank canvas, ready for the viewer to project their own story, and interpretation onto them. The artist explains:
I’m perhaps proposing a story and not telling the end, just giving a beginning or fragment. There is still a lot for the spectator to complete… (Source)
Balkenhol has been carving the human form for a few decades now, and has shown it in many different forms. He has figures dancing on top of plinths, carrying out various dance steps; a lady in a green dress with an animal head, standing still with her hands on thighs; a man in black trousers and a white shirt with his hand slouched in his pocket. But all are as nondescript as the next. One critic dissects his work:
In the crowd, the individual is freed from the tyranny of distance and transcends the limits of his own person. If Balkenhol’s heads remain anonymous individuals, it is because they have a memory of the crowd embedded within them. (Source)
Blankenhol’s figures are a little bit of all of us – humans as individuals, and humans as a mass group; the everyday people.
Tokyo born artist Ramon Todo splices pieces of stone, volcanic rock, obsidian, fossils, books and even pieces of the Berlin Wall with translucent layers of glass. Taking raw chunks of natural material and adding highly polished bits of glass, he creates sculptures that are unstated and surprising. The juxtaposition of the sharp hard glass surface wedged in between crumbling porous rock, or forced into obsidian, or slotted into an old frayed book cover is a quiet commentary on the nature of material. By combining these distinctly different materials, Todo is talking about fragility and stability. He questions the very nature of the objects he is working with, and exploits the properties that we understand them by having. He asks us: what makes a rock a rock?
Todo collects the original stones and fossils while out walking (he is based in Dusseldorf), and initially is drawn to them as artifacts of the culture and the land they come from. By inserting something alien into these pieces, Todo is effectively rewriting their history, and the place that these objects hold in the world. With titles like Artificial Stone of Paris; Bois de Boulogne Paris 2007 #4, and o.T. – Spitz, these art works are like something from the shelves of The Natural History Museum, or the Geology Department at a university. They are definitely objects of curiosity, and you can see more of them after the jump.
Rebecca Morgan is a wonderfully playful, expressive artist producing mostly drawings, paintings, ceramics and cutouts, all based on characters and stereotypes from her native Appalachian area in America. Long term fans of Morgan’s, we have actually featured her previous series of portraits of rednecks and peasants- ‘Deliverance‘, here on B/D. This time we are enamored with her latest ceramic collection of gnarled, twisted, almost gruesome jugs. As with her 2D work, Morgan takes inspiration from the off-beat “bumpkin” (as she calls them) folk she grew up around.
Her ceramics are quite the sight – with bulging eyes, leering at you, and with crooked smiles, mouths full of oddly shaped and yellowed teeth. Their colors are quite unsettling as well, some vases a sickly blue-green tone; another is bright pus yellow; some vases glazed in a metallic sheen; and yet another made from a dull grey ceramic with ghastly warts plastered all over it’s face.
Stylistically, Morgan embraces hyper-detailed naturalism, influenced by Dutch painters such as Memling, Brueghel, and Van Eyck, as well as absurd, repulsive caricature suggestive of underground cartoonists like R.Crumb. (Source)
The influence of underground comics are definitely evident in Morgan’s work and she makes sure to embrace a healthy dose of lewdness, as does Crumb. She obviously delights in pushing the boundary between repulsion and attraction; the grotesque and the ordinary. Thankfully these vases are neither repulsive, nor grotesque, and they are far from being ordinary.
The photographic studio founded and run by Robert Staudinger and Andreas Franke (based in Vienna) have been experimenting with many different post production techniques for a while. Their recent fascination is with water. Photographing different women just beneath the surface of water, their series Barrier is like a ghostly fairytale. The women seem to either be sinking down into the depths below, postmortem, or in a state of serenity and peace, enjoying a moment of calm. We are not quite sure whether the barrier is a help or a hindrance; something to protect the women or to hurt them. The images capture an intrusive moment, either like watching someone during their final moments of life, or having an intimate bathing experience. Whatever it is, Staudinger and Franke exploit the tension between tranquility and unease; push and pull; immersion and separation.
Playing with the concept of water in the past (The Phantasy Fairytales), Staudinger and Franke seem interested in exploring the quietness and other-worldliness of the substance. By including the element in their images, it changes the mood quite drastically, and in most cases makes it seem more surreal, ethereal and eerie.
Franke has also shot an old shipwreck off the coast of Key West (Vandenberg Project), digitally adding in components later on to complete the shots. Including ballet dancers, kickboxers, a girl holding a butterfly net, a woman hanging out laundry, and a whole lot of other surreal details, Franke became experienced in recreating watery effects on his subjects to blend them in seamlessly, and somewhat believably. To see more of their beautiful skills see here. (Via Art Fucks Me)
Chen-Dao Lee paints highly stylized pop images that are a kind of Taiwanese version of a Quentin Tarantino neo-noir film. Painted in candyfloss pinks, reds and blues, his work borders on anime, or a kind of twisted superhero comic. His subjects are powerful women (and peculiar men) who have a cynicism, sexuality and also a sickly sweetness about them. Posed together, armed with guns and wearing frilly socks and high heels, or engaged in a semi-erotic masked wrestling fight, Lee’s characters are contemporary individuals, expressing the whole spectrum of emotions.
In his recent series, Lee has shifted from depicting a logical scenario in his paintings to focusing on the figures entanglement to describe emotions or relationships which are ambiguous, embarrassing or even helpless. Beautiful young women and fallen heroes frequently appear in Lee’s works as a symbol of the projection of modern people’s inner contradictions. (Source)
With titles like Cat fight – Love Kick, Boss, Not The Hero Type, Valentine, BFF, Lee embraces a kind of feminism with a dark sense of humor. He paints scenarios loaded with sexual innuendo, but instead of them being erotic, or about power plays, he focuses on ennui. The women (and men) show a lack of enthusiasm and engagement, but rather a nonchalance about what ever is going on around them.
His past series have included paintings of women guiltily carrying loads of fast food, indulgent night life scenes with money being tossed around, strange card nights, groups of men eating sushi off a blow-up doll, and overweight men with bad tan lines wearing cute costume masks. Lee is able to blend sarcasm, skepticism and empathy to create instant modern day classics. (Via Illusion Scene)